Halfway There — Maybe   3 comments

I’m continuing my rundown of the massive Democratic primary field, starting with the lowest ratings and working my way upward. You can check out my previous articles by following the links below. And, you’re always welcome to comment.

Assuming he didn’t blow it in the debates over the weekend, Pete Buttegieg is poised as a front-runner for the 2020 Democratic nomination.

pete buttegieg

The mayor of South Bend, Indiana, Buttegieg does not hold an office that traditionally serves as a springboard to the presidency. That seems not to matter in the Trump era. Democrats find Buttegieg is thoughtful, even intellectual. He’s a Rhodes scholar, attended the University of Oxford, served his country in the Navy and was deployed to Afghanistan, and worked in the private sector before returning to his hometown where he took up politics. He’s a married gay man, but he’s managed to avoid engaging with his fellow presidential candidates in the culture war’s unwinnable arms race.

And while his fellow presidential aspirants are pandering to the lowest common denominator, promising the world and ignoring constitutional impediments, Pete Buttegieg is talking about ideas. Among them, the very concept of liberty itself.

“We’ve allowed our conservative friends to get a monopoly on the idea of freedom,” Buttegieg conceded in a recent speech to a group of supporters in South Carolina. But the kind of freedom conservative syndicalists promote was, he argued, defined too narrowly. “Freedom from,” he explained. “As though government were the only thing that could make us unfree.”

Oddly, though, he went on to illustrate that it is, in fact, coercive governmental institutions that are most often responsible for curtailing liberty.

And that’s a problem for some Democratic observers, who say Buttigieg sounds a lot like a libertarian. Democratic journalists really don’t know much about libertarianism, which is based on the founding principles, including voluntary association.

A thoughtful politician, Buttegieg’s intellectual journey seems to have led him halfway to small government libertarianism. Perhaps nothing better illustrates this internal conflict better than his response when asked where he stands on fast-food chain Chick-Fil-A, whose owners oppose same-sex marriages like his own. “I do not approve of their politics, but I kind of approve of their chicken,” he said. “Maybe, if nothing else, I can build that bridge.” Maybe he can, but the current behavior of the modern Democratic Party wants any hand in its construction.

For libertarians, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, appears to be a welcome addition to the far-left-leaning Democratic primary. After all, his views on foreign intervention and free college are small consolations in a field that is largely set on growing the scope of government.

Some of Buttigieg’s other positions, however, put him at odds with libertarian voters.

Several Democratic candidates have expressed a desire to expand the Supreme Court in hopes of weakening the influence of conservative justices. I guess they feel that if they can’t get a majority with nine, they’ll manage one with 15. This has been tried before and it scared the Supremes enough that they did whatever FDR wanted for a decade, must of which was later ruled to be unconstitutional.

In a speech at the New Hampshire Institute of Politics, Buttigieg suggested expanding the court to 15 justices. This new court would be composed of five conservative justices, five liberal justices, and five rotating appellate justices, each unanimously agreed upon by their peers. That might sound good if you despise simple majority decisions, but there are a number of complications immediately recognizable, but I’m just going to note one.

The proposal gives justices more power by choosing who gets appointed. This both goes against an important check on the judicial branch, and is likely unconstitutional, as presidents are the only people allowed to appoint justices.

Buttigieg has previously invoked his military service to criticize endless war. He’s also used his experiences to speak positively about national service. Though he hasn’t presented any official positions, his sentiments on the latter indicate that he would be comfortable with mandatory national service. While his proposal remains vaguely stated, he explained to Rachel Maddow that he sees national public service as a means ot bridging social divides. And he may well be right. Take 18-year-olds, force them to work for the government for a couple of years, brain-wash them with propaganda and, viola, you’ve created a whole generation of youth corps drones.

Though Buttigieg has yet to truly commit to a major campaign proposal, his thoughts should not be taken lightly. If libertarians are looking for a mainstream candidate who will not join pointless wars, then Buttigieg aligns with their views. If they’re looking for a firm commitment to shrinking the size and scope of government, they may not find much common ground in this candidate.

3 responses to “Halfway There — Maybe

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  1. Pingback: Is He Making Things Up? | aurorawatcherak

  2. Pingback: A Moderate Choice? | aurorawatcherak

  3. Pingback: If I Were A Democrat… | aurorawatcherak

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