Slate Problems: Is Buttigieg’s ‘Gayness’ Diverse Enough?

As South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s star power rises in the Democratic Party’s 2020 presidential field, left-wing blog Slate is asking the tough questions about the 37-year-old candidate.

“Is Pete Buttigieg Just Another White Male Candidate, or Does His Gayness Count as Diversity?” said a headline by Slate’s Christina Cauterucci.

While the political left races to the “progressive” bottom, the factions into which it has divided itself are now beginning to war against each other, as demonstrated by Slate’s piece.

“But with momentum comes backlash, currently in the form of frustration that the well-qualified female and black candidates in the race are getting shoved aside for another white guy,” the piece said.

Slate cited a couple commentators who went to battle on Twitter over the “white guy.”

“Mayor Pete seems head-and-shoulders smarter than the other candidates running, and IMO that should count for quite a lot,” self-described “tax policy guy” Alan Cole said.

Writer Jill Filipovic fired back, suggesting that Cole was a sexist.

“Warren, who taught at Harvard, was one of the most well-regarded law professors in the country and one of the most intelligent people to serve in the senate, but we don’t politically reward, let alone even identify, that kind of fierce intelligence in women (esp older women).” she said.

Cauterucci then described the existential crisis of a party that, wrapped up in identity politics, has lost completely lost sight electing a presidential candidate based on merit:

These aren’t just random tweets; the conversation is at the heart of a broader debate on the left about identity and representation. After Democrats failed to win what looked like an easy general election for the country’s first major-party female presidential nominee in 2016, some progressives worried that Democratic voters would be too spooked—or too sexist—to nominate a woman again. Maybe Dems would be safer, some wondered, with a nice progressive white guy. But for many liberals, a return to the old pattern of putting forward white men in the mold of the disproportionate majority of American politicians would be a capitulation to American voters’ worst biases.

Then Cauterucci described how Buttigieg will appeal more to straight, white, males – which in this context is used as a denigration.

Straight white male voters will likely find it easier to see themselves in Buttigieg than in the women or people of color in the 2020 field. They’ll be right to do so: Buttigieg’s life experiences—how he’s been perceived, how he’s gotten paid, what he’s believed himself capable of, what opportunities have been available to him—almost certainly have far more in common with those of Sanders and Biden than those of Harris, Booker, and Warren.

Ultimately, the piece reached no conclusion about whether Buttigieg as a gay, white, male is more or less oppressed than any other group of “marginalized” Americans. Rather, Buttigieg was chided for not using his “gayness” to play the victim.

“But Buttigieg suggests that being gay has had ‘no bearing’ at all on anything else he’s done in his life,” the piece said. “There’s nothing objectively wrong with such an assimilationist perspective, especially for a newly out man who seems ready to lead on trans rights and other LGBTQ political issues. But it does makes him less exciting as the supposed gay trailblazer some on the left desperately want him to be.”

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