Mayor Pete's Brilliant Essay in Support of Bernie Sanders

When he was valedictorian of his high school class in 2000, Pete Buttigieg wrote this essay which won him an award from the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, MA. https://www.jfklibrary.org/learn/education/profile-in-courage-essay-cont...

The subject of this prize-winning essay? The integrity and political courage of an independent politician from Vermont by the name of Bernie Sanders.

Here's the complete essay.

2000 WINNING ESSAY BY PETER BUTTIGIEG

Bernie Sanders
By Peter Buttigieg
St. Joseph’s High School
South Bend, Indiana

In this new century, there are a daunting number of important issues which are to be confronted if we are to progress as a nation. Each must be addressed thoroughly and energetically. But in order to accomplish the collective goals of our society, we must first address how we deal with issues. We must re-examine the psychological and political climate of American politics. As it stands, our future is at risk due to a troubling tendency towards cynicism among voters and elected officials. The successful resolution of every issue before us depends on the fundamental question of public integrity.

A new attitude has swept American politics. Candidates have discovered that is easier to be elected by not offending anyone rather than by impressing the voters. Politicians are rushing for the center, careful not to stick their necks out on issues. Most Democrats shy away from the word “liberal” like a horrid accusation. Republican presidential hopeful George W. Bush uses the centrist rhetoric of “compassionate conservatism” while Pat Buchanan, once considered a mainstream Republican, has been driven off the ideological edge of the G.O.P. Just as film producers shoot different endings and let test audiences select the most pleasing, some candidates run “test platforms” through sample groups to see which is most likely to win before they speak out on major issue. This disturbing trend reveals cynicism, a double-sided problem, which is perhaps, the greatest threat to the continued success of the American political system.

Cynical candidates have developed an ability to outgrow their convictions in order to win power. Cynical citizens have given up on the election process, going to the polls at one of the lowest rates in the democratic world. Such an atmosphere inevitably distances our society from its leadership and is thus a fundamental threat to the principles of democracy. It also calls into question what motivates a run for office – in many cases, apparently, only the desire to occupy it. Fortunately for the political process, there remain a number of committed individuals who are steadfast enough in their beliefs to run for office to benefit their fellow Americans. Such people are willing to eschew political and personal comfort and convenience because they believe they can make a difference. One outstanding and inspiring example of such integrity is the country’s only Independent Congressman, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.

Sanders’ courage is evident in the first word he uses to describe himself: “Socialist”. In a country where Communism is still the dirtiest of ideological dirty words, in a climate where even liberalism is considered radical, and Socialism is immediately and perhaps willfully confused with Communism, a politician dares to call himself a socialist? He does indeed. Here is someone who has “looked into his own soul” and expressed an ideology, the endorsement of which, in today’s political atmosphere, is analogous to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Even though he has lived through a time in which an admitted socialist could not act in a film, let alone hold a Congressional seat, Sanders is not afraid to be candid about his political persuasion.

After numerous political defeats in his traditionally Republican state, Sanders won the office of mayor of Burlington by ten votes. A successful and popular mayor, he went on to win Vermont’s one Congressional seat in 1990. Since then, he has taken many courageous and politically risky stands on issues facing the nation. He has come under fire from various conservative religious groups because of his support for same-sex marriages. His stance on gun control led to NRA-organized media campaigns against him. Sanders has also shown creativity in organizing drug-shopping trips to Canada for senior citizens to call attention to inflated drug prices in the United States.

While impressive, Sanders’ candor does not itself represent political courage. The nation is teeming with outspoken radicals in one form or another. Most are sooner called crazy than courageous. It is the second half of Sanders’ political role that puts the first half into perspective: he is a powerful force for conciliation and bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. In Profiles in Courage, John F. Kennedy wrote that “we should not be too hasty in condemning all compromise as bad morals. For politics and legislation are not matters for inflexible principles or unattainable ideals.” It may seem strange that someone so steadfast in his principles has a reputation as a peacemaker between divided forces in Washington, but this is what makes Sanders truly remarkable. He represents President Kennedy’s ideal of “compromises of issues, not of principles.”

Sanders has used his unique position as the lone Independent Congressman to help Democrats and Republicans force hearings on the internal structure of the International Monetary Fund, which he sees as excessively powerful and unaccountable. He also succeeded in quietly persuading reluctant Republicans and President Clinton to ban the import of products made by under-age workers. Sanders drew some criticism from the far left when he chose to grudgingly endorse President Clinton’s bids for election and re-election as President. Sanders explained that while he disagreed with many of Clinton’s centrist policies, he felt that he was the best option for America’s working class.

Sanders’ positions on many difficult issues are commendable, but his real impact has been as a reaction to the cynical climate which threatens the effectiveness of the democratic system. His energy, candor, conviction, and ability to bring people together stand against the current of opportunism, moral compromise, and partisanship which runs rampant on the American political scene. He and few others like him have the power to restore principle and leadership in Congress and to win back the faith of a voting public weary and wary of political opportunism. Above all, I commend Bernie Sanders for giving me an answer to those who say American young people see politics as a cesspool of corruption, beyond redemption. I have heard that no sensible young person today would want to give his or her life to public service. I can personally assure you this is untrue.

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JekyllnHyde's picture

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A riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma

Not Henry Kissinger's picture

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Tom Steyer is my favorite billionaire. Let's eat him last.

Pricknick's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger
you bring that picture up.
Will the catholics vote for him with his being gay?
It's not a determining factor for me but I'm sure the righteous will scorn him.
My factor is that he has shown to be a hypocrite and I'm not down with that.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

Pricknick's picture

I will spread this far and wide.
Thanks so much.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

Pricknick's picture

some brave individuals who can still post to kos, step up and cross post this to them?
Please let me know when you do because I would go there for this.
Thanks again Hyde.

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

@Pricknick @Pricknick @Pricknick but that would end the second I posted this. Still, might be worth it; I haven't been there in a long time.

Update: I searched for "Buttigieg" on DK, and found some negative posts about him, with a lot of recommends. But I also found a post titled "The only non-Biden nominee scenario I can see is a Bernie/Buttigieg ticket". It had 158 comments and only 2 likes. But the poster is still able to make comments, so maybe the ban hammer isn't as active as I'd expect.

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Not Henry Kissinger's picture

So much to unpack....

Let's see, how about we start with the endorsement:

"Fortunately for the political process, there remain a number of committed individuals who are steadfast enough in their beliefs to run for office to benefit their fellow Americans. Such people are willing to eschew political and personal comfort and convenience because they believe they can make a difference. One outstanding and inspiring example of such integrity is the country’s only Independent Congressman, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders."
~ Pete Buttigieg

So Pete loves the man, but hates the message, because it's just so unpopular!

Sanders’ courage is evident in the first word he uses to describe himself: “Socialist”. In a country where Communism is still the dirtiest of ideological dirty words, in a climate where even liberalism is considered radical, and Socialism is immediately and perhaps willfully confused with Communism, a politician dares to call himself a socialist? He does indeed.

Here is someone who has “looked into his own soul” and expressed an ideology, the endorsement of which, in today’s political atmosphere, is analogous to a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

Even though he has lived through a time in which an admitted socialist could not act in a film, let alone hold a Congressional seat, Sanders is not afraid to be candid about his political persuasion.

The 18 year-old, closeted psychodrama is strong in this one. Also, Political persuasion ... is that a genetic thing?

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Tom Steyer is my favorite billionaire. Let's eat him last.

Pricknick's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger
For most, it is a payed for political disease.

Political persuasion ... is that a genetic thing?

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Regardless of the path in life I chose, I realize it's always forward, never straight.

mimi's picture

@Not Henry Kissinger
to shoot at himself? For whom and for what reason?

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Centaurea's picture

@mimi
which NotHenryKissinger was quoting in his/her comment.

I assume that teenaged Pete meant it as a compliment to Bernie's courage in daring to go against the grain knowing that doing so was politically risky.

In my opinion, it was a clumsy way for Pete to say it, and a bit over the top. Bernie's openly acting on democratic socialist principles was politically risky, yes. Politically suicidal, no.

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"Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep."
~Rumi

"If you want revolution, be it."
~Caitlin Johnstone

Not Henry Kissinger's picture

@Centaurea

In my opinion, it was a clumsy way for Pete to say it, and a bit over the top. Bernie's openly acting on democratic socialist principles was politically risky, yes. Politically suicidal, no.

Basically, Pete is saying he'd rather shoot himself in the head than become a Socialist, and judging from his debate performances twenty years later, it's an ideation he apparently continues to entertain to this day.

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Tom Steyer is my favorite billionaire. Let's eat him last.

Situational Lefty's picture

It seems to me that Mayor Pete! needs to get back in touch with his inner child.

Maybe then, he'll stop taking Super-PAC donations and compete on a level playing field with Bernie and others who have pledged to reject corporate money.

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"He is the truest friend; he has the farthest vision; he is the greatest man I have ever known." --Winston Churchill on Franklin Delano Roosevelt

Hell of an essay for a high school senior though. Did Bernie get him into Harvard? Quid pro quo is a thing you know.

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Centaurea's picture

@davidgmillsatty

but I wonder how Bernie could have gotten Pete, or anyone, into Harvard?

The elites at Harvard hate Bernie Sanders. To the extent that they were aware of Congressman Sanders in 2001, I'm sure they had disdain for him even then. Asking Bernie for help getting into Harvard would have been a risky business for young Pete.

Pete's from Indiana. Bernie's originally from Brooklyn, went to college in Chicago, and represents Vermont. Harvard is in Massachusetts, and is decidedly not a socialist, or democratic socialist, or even a social democratic institution.

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"Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep."
~Rumi

"If you want revolution, be it."
~Caitlin Johnstone

@Centaurea To the Dean and threatened to get M4A for all Harvard Students if Buttigieg wasn't accepted and given a free ride. And as far as I know the Harvard students never got M4A. Of course this is hearsay, but I have been told that a whistleblower has come forth who was listening in on the call and is willing to testify to the quid pro quo. And I am pretty sure Bernie should be impeached over this because this is a high crime or misdemeanor or maybe just bad behavior.

But I will gladly testify before Congress if the price is right. An ambassadorship to Epstein Island wouldn't be asking for too much would it? I've heard there is a vacancy in the position.

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Centaurea's picture

@davidgmillsatty
We'll do anything you say. Just don't do that M4A!

Lol

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"Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep."
~Rumi

"If you want revolution, be it."
~Caitlin Johnstone

@Centaurea
lectured at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard before his election to congress in 1990.

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Centaurea's picture

@FuturePassed
for the info. I wasn't aware of that. Makes me think a little bit better of Harvard, or at least that particular school.

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"Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep."
~Rumi

"If you want revolution, be it."
~Caitlin Johnstone

mimi's picture

Is he a do-gooder for life now?

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Raggedy Ann's picture

Thanks for bringing this to us. A shining endorsement of the Senator from Vermont! Ah, Pete, thanks! Bernie should put this in one of his ads, lol!
Pleasantry

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“The trouble [with injustice] is that once you see it, you can’t unsee it. And once you’ve seen it, keeping quiet, saying nothing, becomes as political an act as speaking out. There is no innocence. Either way, you’re accountable.”
-- Arundhati Roy

moneysmith's picture

n/t

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Hell is empty and all the devils are here. William Shakespeare

Situational Lefty's picture

Mayor Pete! endorses Bernie Sanders for President. That would make for one hell of an endorsement.

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"He is the truest friend; he has the farthest vision; he is the greatest man I have ever known." --Winston Churchill on Franklin Delano Roosevelt