Pete Buttigieg should be our next president

Photo+Creds%3A+Bizuayehu+Tesfaye%2FLas+Vegas+Review-Journal+via+AP
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Pete Buttigieg should be our next president

Photo Creds: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP

Photo Creds: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP

Photo Creds: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP

Photo Creds: Bizuayehu Tesfaye/Las Vegas Review-Journal via AP

Drue Cappawana, Opinion Editor

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I am often asked the question “What do you look for in a leader?” And that conversation generally turns into what I look for in a president. Last election cycle, as in 2016, I  would have said somebody who is qualified for the job. By that criteria, I would have supported Hillary Clinton. I did back Clinton, but not for the sole reason that she is more qualified than Donald Trump. Since the 2016 election, Trump has been a disaster for the presidency and for the United States on the world stage. So, I’ve begun to more define what I want in a president on sharper grounds. And it’s a complicated conglomerate of traits, for sure. So, I will take time to outline those traits, and come to a conclusion on who I will, thus, support in the 2020 presidential election.

The primary quality I look for in a president is prior political experience, and especially executive experience. Being President of the United States is the ultimate executive role, more than a CEO or the Governor of Pennsylvania (sorry, Governor Wolf). Going into the 2016 election, neither Trump or Clinton had extensive executive experience. The Libertarian Party ticket of Gary Johnson and Bill Weld had more individual political executive experience than Trump and Clinton combined. And the Johnson/Weld ticket only had a combined four terms of gubernatorial experience at the time! Think for a second: the presidential candidate with the most political executive experience going into the 2016 election was Gary Johnson. He was a two-term Governor of New Mexico, and notorious for not knowing what Aleppo, Syria, is. These people are vying for the highest executive position in the country. Alas, I digress. A president should have prior executive experience. Or, at the very least, political experience of some sort. Having political executive experience means that you already know what it’s like to run a system, whether it is a state or a city. You know the difficulty of making an executive decision, and you know how to delegate power. A president ought to know how to do those things. And it isn’t just me who likes to see a president have experience, as sophomore Corey Czyzyk said “The person I vote for should know the world of politics and know how it works. It’s the same thing with any other job, you’d rather hire someone with previous experience to a higher up position due to them being more qualified.”

As every American should believe, a president should be intelligent. A president should know that the sound of windmills doesn’t cause cancer, that their father was born in New York, not Germany, and can pronounce the word ‘origin’. Most of our quintessentially successful presidents since the turn of the 20th century attended prestigious universities and were incredibly intelligent when compared to their contemporaries. Immediately, presidents such as Woodrow Wilson and George H. W. Bush come to mind as successful presidents with impressive educational backgrounds. Wilson attended Johns Hopkins University, where he earned his Ph.D., and Bush attended Yale University. Bill Clinton was a Rhodes Scholar, although he later withdrew from Oxford University. Theodore Roosevelt attended Harvard University. Do you get my point? Highly educated presidents are often very successful. Even Richard Nixon, a graduate of Duke University, was successful until the Watergate Scandal. However, Nixon was also a vehement anti-Semite, exemplified by a quote from Nixon in political commentator David Gergen’s memoir Eyewitness to Power: “… he complains to Bob Haldeman, his chief of staff: ‘I want you to look at any sensitive areas where Jews are involved…you can’t trust the [expletive]. They turn on you. Am I wrong or right?” (It is worth noting that Gergen makes especially clear in the exposition of his memoir that he refuses to quote somebody directly unless he can make especially certain that he is accurately quoting them, otherwise he would paraphrase.) That leads me into my next qualification:

A president shouldn’t be racist. Or sexist, or homophobic, or transphobic, or Islamophobic, or anti-Semitic, et cetera. This needs no explanation. It’s simple: be a decent human being.

The final major quality I look for in a president is servitude to the United States in some way. Whether it may be serving in the United States Armed Forces, or serving in the U.S. Congress, or a state assembly, any servitude to the United States in some manner makes a candidate more qualified.

So, who do I want to be our next commander-in-chief? If you’re caught up on the 18 Democratic presidential candidates who have declared, you may notice that my qualifying traits describe one presidential candidate: Mayor Pete Buttigieg. He ought to be our next president. He’s certainly young at 37 years old, but so are Emmanuel Macron (President of France, 41 years old), Jacinda Ardern (Prime Minister of New Zealand, 38 years old), and Leo Varadkar (Taoiseach of Ireland, 40 years old). The current Chancellor of Austria, Sebastian Kurz, wouldn’t be eligible to be the U.S. President because he’s too young. World leaders are becoming younger, as all three of those leaders were elected in 2017. Buttigieg would be a very nice change of scenery from older men being president to becoming America’s youngest president if elected.

Despite his youth, Buttigieg also has more executive experience than his assumed opponents, if he wins the nomination. Buttigieg has been the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, since 2012. President Trump had no executive experience before his administration, and Vice President Pence had four years of executive experience before the Trump Administration as Governor of Indiana. The other Democratic candidates with executive experience are John Hickenlooper, former Governor of Colorado, Jay Inslee, current Governor of Washington, and Wayne Messam, mayor of Miramar, Florida.

Buttigieg is also incredibly intelligent, as shown by his educational background. He graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University in 2004 with a Bachelor’s degree in history and literature. He also studied at Oxford University in London, England, as a Rhodes Scholar. There, he received a Bachelor’s degree in philosophy, politics, and economics in 2007.

Although his educational background doesn’t separate him from the rest of the Democratic field (Kirsten Gillibrand is a graduate of Dartmouth University and UCLA, for example), Buttigieg’s servitude to the nation is one that does. Pete Buttigieg served in the United States Naval Reserve, earning the rank of Lieutenant, for eight years. He served in Afghanistan during the Afghanistan War in 2014, and he retired from the Navy in 2017. Alongside Buttigieg, Tulsi Gabbard and Mike Gravel are the only other Democrats who have served in the military before their run for president. Richard Ojeda, who ended his campaign for president in January, also served in the military.

All these traits combine to form the candidate best fit to be our next president. Buttigieg’s policy proposals are solid, advocating for democratic capitalism, intergenerational justice, and finally taking climate change more seriously. Addressing climate change is something very important to sophomore Shelby Souders, who said “When I look for a presidential candidate, I want to be certain they have the same views as me [when referring to climate change] so I can ensure they will represent my interests in keeping our planet’s future in mind.” He also can win elections in areas where Democrats have struggled. South Bend is in Indiana, which has become more conservative since Barack Obama won the state in 2008. Yet, Pete Buttigieg, a progressive Democrat, won the mayoral election of that city with over 80% of the vote in 2015. It’s worth noting that South Bend is in Indiana’s 2nd Congressional District, represented by Republican Jackie Walorski. The Democrats ought to nominate someone from the so-called “forgotten areas” of the United States, primarily from the Rust Belt and Midwest. Buttigieg’s qualities should propel him to the front of the pack of Democrats vying for the presidency, and he must get the nomination from the Democratic Party in 2020.

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Pete Buttigieg should be our next president