Jacobin - December 2019

"His attitude toward black voters and black leaders has also been jaw-droppingly disrespectful. Dogged by criticisms over his relationship to black communities in South Bend, he has struggled to attract any black support at all. His solution to this has been creative —disruptive***, even. Some candidates would attempt talking to black voters, or even creating a better platform that might appeal to the middle and working classes to which most black voters belong. But these strategies are for plebes. Mayor Pete took the far more edgy strategy of simply making stuff up.*** As Ryan Grim reported in theIntercept, Buttigieg’s campaign recently published a list of South Carolinian “supporters” of his “Douglass Plan” for the “Empowerment of Black America.” But some of the prominent black leaders on it were not in fact supporters of Mayor Pete or even of his plan, nor had they agreed to join such a list."

Last time I wrote about Mayor Pete Buttigieg here, I analyzed him as a phenomenon (as well as a phenom), a symptom of an upper-middle-class preoccupation with achievement and narrowly defined “smarts.” I went easy on his brief “career” and on his politics. Now that he’s a more of a significant player, it’s time to remedy that. Yes, Mayor Pete is an annoying, entitled nerd. He’s condescending to everyone to his left, from Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren to his black constituents in South Bend, no matter how much more knowledgeable they might be. He’s that guy who always thinks he knows better than you. But he’s also worse than that.

First, look at what he’s trying to communicate to his base: the finance industry and others in the top 0.1 percent. By choosing Lis Smith as his campaign spokeswoman, he’s letting them know that he’s friendly and comfortable with Democrats who might as well be Republicans. Smith was the spokeswoman for Jeff Klein, the leader of the Independent Democratic Conference (IDC), a group of Democrats in the New York state senate who chose to install a Republican leadership in the chamber in order to made progressive legislation almost impossible. The IDC was voted out of power a year ago, and as a direct result of their ouster — as well as, equally importantly, the election of some genuinely left and progressive representatives — New York has passed strong, historic legislation on a range of issues, including climate, abortion rights and housing, all of which would have been unheard of in the IDC era.

Lis Smith was the public face of political hopelessness in New York state. Her New York moment has passed, and she should never have been heard from again, but Buttigieg would like to bring that sense of doom back to the national stage. Mayor Pete chose the person who represented the bleak nihilistic cynicism of pre-2018 Albany to represent his own campaign.

In the midst of the current upsurge of a vibrant youthful left, he is living proof that young people can be just as awful as older people.

Much has been written both about Buttigieg’s tenure at McKinsey, one of the worst consultancies on earth. Duff McDonald, author of The Firm, a book about the company, told Time magazine that it “might be the single greatest legitimizer of mass layoffs in history.” While most companies lay off workers in hard times, he argued, McKinsey pioneered the idea of advising firms to do it in good times “simply to juice profits.” Nice place to spend your idealistic boyhood!

Mayor Pete’s McKinsey work does not seem to have pushed against the grain of the firm. It may have led to mass layoffs at Blue Cross Blue Shield and may also have prompted the firm to recommend layoffs at the US Post Office. Mayor Pete also worked on a McKinsey contract in Afghanistan exploring how best to extract and exploit that company’s natural resources; the project sounds deeply environmentally destructive and has also been criticized as a huge waste of US taxpayer dollars. He was strongly chastised for his initial refusal to disclose his client list or the exact nature of his work at McKinsey  even by the editorial board of the New York Times. If he were merely a centrist boy-wonder rather than the corporate enemy of the public interest that he is, the Times would be his biggest fan. Buttigieg repeatedly cited the nondisclosure agreement he signed with the consultancy, signaling that he cared more about his loyalty to McKinsey and the corporate elite it represents than about his obligation to the public.

His attitude toward black voters and black leaders has also been jaw-droppingly disrespectful. Dogged by criticisms over his relationship to black communities in South Bend, he has struggled to attract any black support at all. His solution to this has been creative — disruptive, even. Some candidates would attempt talking to black voters, or even creating a better platform that might appeal to the middle and working classes to which most black voters belong. But these strategies are for plebes. Mayor Pete took the far more edgy strategy of simply making stuff up. As Ryan Grim reported in the Intercept, Buttigieg’s campaign recently published a list of South Carolinian “supporters” of his “Douglass Plan” for the “Empowerment of Black America.” But some of the prominent black leaders on it were not in fact supporters of Mayor Pete or even of his plan, nor had they agreed to join such a list. ...
Read full report at Jacobin