Guest op-ed from Dennis Cole of Shenandoah, Iowa, past Page County Democrats chair.
As Iowans, we have a very important responsibility in our democracy.
The first-in-the-nation caucuses bestow upon us a great opportunity to lead America in the political and moral direction of our choosing, by allowing us to winnow the field of presidential candidates every four years. Iowans take this responsibility very seriously and put forth great effort to make the best decision. Winners come out of Iowa with momentum for the next set of primaries, and more often than not, eventually secure the nomination of their party.
Consequently, I deliberated long and hard on my caucus decision. After hours of research and debate viewing, I had eliminated several candidates, but still had a list of three or four possibilities.
In September, my family and I made the two-and-a-half hour drive to the Polk County Steak Fry in Des Moines. Seventeen presidential candidates were scheduled to attend, and I promised myself I was going to commit to a candidate by Oct. 1, so this event would play a large part in my decision.
The weather was dreary that day, misting off and on, but 12,000 hearty Iowans overcame the conditions for what proved to be an afternoon of plans, policies and political spectacle. Several candidates came and went, including some on my short list, but nothing happened to move me one way or another.
Then, Pete Buttigieg, the mayor of the small Midwestern city of South Bend, Indiana, came to the stage. So did several hundred of his yellow-clad, enthusiastic supporters. I had seen this entourage, the largest of any candidate, earlier in the day, and I noticed how remarkably organized they were. I had seen a display like this only once before, at the Harkin Steak Fry of 2007, led by an upstart senator named Barack Obama.
As Mayor Buttigieg spoke, something else happened that I had not experienced in quite some time. A tingle began running down my spine. I was feeling hopeful. I was inspired. This was my candidate. This was my president.
America is more divided now than it has been in any other point in my lifetime. Pete Buttigieg is the candidate this country can unite behind, while bringing civility back to the White House. He wants to work with all Americans to solve the problems this country has and repair the relationships with our allies throughout the world.
Buttigieg is an Afghanistan war veteran, one of only two veterans in this large field of candidates. He served as a lieutenant in the U. S. Navy Reserves, and has more combat experience than any president since George H. W. Bush. For his counter-terrorism work, he earned the Joint Service Commendation Medal.
Pete Buttigieg will not recklessly deploy our sons and daughters in wars we should not be fighting. However, he will not hesitate to use force when there is no other recourse. Mayor Pete will not betray our allies by abandoning them and leaving them with the choice of fleeing their homes or being slaughtered as this President has done.
I believe climate change is the greatest threat to humanity we have ever faced. As the youngest candidate in the race, Pete Buttigieg has more incentive to deal with climate change than any other candidate.
In western Iowa, we’ve seen how 500-year floods are happening less than a decade apart. California’s annual wildfires are costing billions of dollars of damage per year, and millions of people may be displaced in my children’s lifetimes due to sea level rise. Pete’s detailed climate plans prioritize building a clean energy economy, reducing greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050, investing in technologies to trap carbon emissions, and once again joining the rest of the world to fight this impending crisis.
A centerpiece of Buttigieg’s policies is the health care plan known as “Medicare for All Who Want It.” It allows people to buy into Medicare if they choose, which is the next logical step beyond the Affordable Care Act. If you don’t want to buy into Medicare, you may keep your private insurance plan, allowing the American people to choose what is best for their own families.
Personally, I’m happy with the coverage of my employer-sponsored insurance. I wouldn’t want to suddenly be forced off it onto a government program without first seeing how sustainable and cost-effective this program is. After having time to evaluate the plan, I may elect to buy into Medicare.
I believe, as Buttigieg does, that Medicare will be the better option, and it will win out over private insurance. We will make that transition in a gradual, free-market way with “Medicare for All Who Want It.” This is a progressive policy, but it’s a pragmatic progressive policy.
One of the first things to interest me about Mayor Buttigieg was his faith. The right doesn’t have a monopoly on faith, and Democrats should not be afraid to discuss their beliefs.
Pete Buttigieg is arguably the most faithful presidential candidate we have seen for some time. Christ loves all of us, and Mayor Pete’s Episcopalian faith is a driving principle in his personal life. I’m ready for a candidate that proves the religious left does in fact exist, and our faith is just as strong.
Mayor Buttigieg was a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford, and a graduate of Harvard University. He has more government experience than the current president of the United States. He has more executive experience than the current vice president. And, perhaps most remarkably, he was re-elected as mayor with 80% of the vote in Indiana.
More than anything on that day in September, I was struck by how genuine Pete Buttigieg was. An honest, faithful, and thoughtful president that wants to bring this divided country together beginning on day one is exactly what we need at this point in history.
Buttigieg has the intelligence, experience, personality, and commitment we need to heal the wounds in American society. As he stated in his dominating performance at the Liberty and Justice Celebration last weekend, Buttigieg is “here to launch the era that must come next.”
On Feb. 3, when the eyes of the world look to Iowa, let’s make a statement on what we want that era to look like by caucusing for Pete Buttigieg.
To volunteer for Pete with me in Southwest Iowa, contact Alex Flood at firstname.lastname@example.org, (502) 802-5302.
By Dennis Cole