Well, a week is a long time in politics, and since this was first public, Buttigieg has quit the presidential race (no doubt to the disgruntlement of all those journalists who struggled so hard to learn how to pronounce his name). Still, the basic point of this piece remains valid: is America really ready for a gay president?
President Donald Trump is surely the world’s most pathetic, useless homophobe. This supposedly gay-hatin’, poofter-bashin’ queer-baiter has an odd habit of doing stuff like waving the rainbow flag from the Republican podium.
Even worse, he’s endorsing the idea of a gay president.
This is no mere theoretical, either. Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is one of the front-runners in the race to be the Democrat presidential candidate for 2020.
Still, while Trump is ready for a gay president, is the rest of the America? Trump certainly doesn’t seem to think so, arguing that his sexuality “doesn’t seem to be hurting him very much”. Polling seems to back Trump: Nearly 80% of Americans would vote for a gay president (less than half would support a socialist, suggesting that Buttigieg has the edge over Bernie Sanders).
On the other hand, the persistent giggling and nudging and winking whenever Buttigieg’s name comes up suggests something less than cosmopolitan sophistication.
I have to admit that, despite my admittedly smutty sense of humour, it took me a while to twig to the comedic potential of Mayor Pete’s name. Probably as a consequence of marrying into a large Maltese family, the name “Buttigieg” just didn’t seem that unusual to me. At least, until I read Jim Goad, snickering about “Mayor Butt-Plug”.
Oh, yeah. A gay guy whose name starts with “Butt”. Okay, that’s funny.
But, like liberals still slapping their knees and haw-hawing in 2020 about “Donald Drumpf!”, is it time to grow up and move on?
Or does all the nudging and guffawing about Pete’s “Butt” give the lie to the notion that Americans are grown-up sophisticates?
When Rush Limbaugh asked, “OK, how’s this going to look, 37-year-old gay guy kissing his husband on stage?”, it’s easy to dismiss it as just another rant from an evil right-winger.
But, despite the predictable fainting fits, Rush wasn’t being a homophobic asshole, he was actually making a reasonable point. “Despite all the great progress and despite all the great wokeness, and despite all the great ground that’s been covered, America’s still not ready to elect a gay guy kissing his husband on the debate stage.”
Even some Democrats agree. South Carolina Democrat Jim Clyburn argues that older, and especially black, Democrats would find it difficult to support a gay candidate. Data supports his view: polling showed that significantly fewer black voters than white supported gay marriage. Another core Democrat group, Muslims, likewise lag far behind the general American population in tolerating homosexuality.
The ambivalence of even Democrat voters might perhaps be illustrated by the video of a voter in the Iowa caucuses, who, on learning that Buttigieg is gay, immediately wanted to switch her vote. “I don’t want anybody like that in the White House. So, can I have my card back?”
So, Jim Goad may be crudely blunt (his stock-in-trade, after all), but there’s an uncomfortable truth to his observation that, “All the entire world can think about is that later tonight, he’ll be batting around his husband’s testicles as if they were ping-pong balls and his tongue was a paddle”.
In the end*, though, if Buttigieg’s sexual preference shouldn’t be a factor in his candidacy, then why are the media so fixated on it? Not just the giggling and “Butt” jokes, but every media puff-piece that inevitably runs, “Pete Buttigieg, who is gay…”?
What Mitt Romney called his “comma problem” (as in, “Mitt Romney, who is a Mormon…”) cuts both ways. If it shouldn’t adversely affect a candidate, by the same token, it shouldn’t be used to promote it, either.
This is the bed the Democrats have made for themselves by so thoroughly submitting to the nonsense ideology of Identity Politics. As Sam Harris has said, when your argument is predicated on identity, that’s not a rational argument. Logically, a person’s race, gender, sexuality are irrelevant. Politically, policy is all that should matter.
And that’s the problem: Buttigieg, while not quite as lunar as Sanders or Elizabeth Warren (for instance, he opposes free college), is still far to the left of much of America But, for all that, neither of them are particularly original: they’re carbon-copy for the 2020 field. So, it’s far easier to pander to identity politics, instead.
If the Democrats are going to promote Buttigieg’s sexuality, then they can hardly cry foul when other people dare to notice his sexuality. And even make silly jokes about it, no matter how childish.
*OK, I snickered when I wrote that. Clearly, I have a lot of growing up to do.