Tuesday, May 28, 2019

Pete Buttigeig: Is America Ready?

By Delia Harms

Pete Buttigeig is a 37-year-old democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana. He announced his presidential candidacy in early April. He is the first openly gay person to run for president. Many people are wondering: is America ready to elect a gay president?

For the most part, the polls say yes, we are ready, but there may be a different story behind the numbers. An article on CNN by Harry Enten states, “A new Quinnipiac University poll finds that 70% of voters (including 86% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic) say they are open to electing a gay president.” (Enten) However, according to that same poll, “36% of voters (including 40% of Democrats and independents who lean Democratic) think the United States is ready to elect a gay president.” (Enten) One theory behind the difference in these two numbers is that people actually do not think that they are ready, but are not willing to admit that so instead say others are not.

This concept has shown up before in the history of presidential elections in 2007 for Obama and in 2015 for Hillary Clinton. The majority of voters polled said they were ready to elect an African American, then female president, but most said the country was not. However, there is one major difference in the statistics. Today, there are 25% of Americans who say that they are not willing to vote for a gay man, no matter what his qualifications are. In 2007 and 2015, less than 5% of Americans said they were not willing to vote for a qualified African American or female president, respectively. (Enten) This shows that our country holds more prejudice towards gay people than they do towards African Americans or women. Part of this may be that voting age people have had less time to “adjust” to the concept of gay people. People who are younger than voting age or who are young voters may be more willing to vote for a gay man because that is not an unusual concept to them.

In an interview with Raymond Buckley by Jeremy Peters, Buckley is talking about Chris Papas, a gay congressman elected last year. He says, “Not one person that I know of said, “Oh, I’m voting for him because he’s gay,” or, “I’m voting against him because he’s gay.” That is such a victory, such a huge leap.” (Peters) This is an important part of this discussion. It is not the fact that Buttigeig is gay that makes him qualified or unqualified to run for president. We should be looking at him and considering his political opinions just as thoroughly as any other candidate. We should be making our decision based on that, not basing the decision the fact that he is gay.

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