He should be the darling of young liberals. He’s physically attractive. He’s young. He’s energetic. He’s gay. Sounds like someone young people would want to fight for, but “Mayor Pete” Buttigieg (former mayor as of Jan 1) just can’t attract millennials.
Politico tries to understand it.
“Mayor Pete” has been perpetually dogged by a major issue: the youngest and most activated voters in his party all seem to—how to put this delicately?—hate his guts. . .
Why is the enmity from young, left-wing activists toward Buttigieg so visceral? It’s true that they favor Bernie Sanders, but Buttigieg comes in for a type of loathing that surpasses even that they hold for Sanders’ older rivals, Joe Biden and Elizabeth Warren. . .
Buttigieg does not enjoy considerable support among young people. In a recent New York Times/Siena poll of Iowa voters, he placed a distant third among 18-to-29-year-olds, behind Sanders and Warren.
Their answer is that today’s young people think they can have the same political potential the Boomers once had. They want a brand of socialism—“one for all, and all for one”—and they feel that Mayor Pete is not just a heretic, he’s a traitor to his generation.
Buttigieg is a young professional with an elite pedigree who’s chosen to buy into the system as a reformer instead of attacking it as a revolutionary.
As George Bush once said, “if you’re not with us, you’re against us.”
The young left don’t want to “make nice,” they want to make change. However, many young people do want to work within the system.
The path to Washington may be clearer for them than their radical counterparts, even as more millennials age into political life. The youngest Democratic member of Congress is, of course, the 30-year-old AOC, who seems all but inevitable to succeed Sanders as the standard-bearer for democratic socialism in America. But if you look at the next 10 youngest Democrats in Congress, they include mostly moderates: the venture capitalist Josh Harder, the military veteran and Blue Dog Max Rose, and Conor Lamb, whose district lies deep in Pennsylvania’s Trump country.
The Atlantic also discussed Mayor Pete’s problem with his generation (or vice versa).
The online left is not the electorate, and its views don’t represent a generation of voters. But youthful distaste for Buttigieg isn’t an internet illusion. In a recent Quinnipiac poll, Buttigieg placed second in the Democratic field among voters over 50. But he earned just 2 percent support among voters under 35. His popularity among those aged 35–49 is about as high as his overall numbers. Buttigieg hate is tightly concentrated among the young.
The irony is that Mayor Pete is hated, while the front-runner is a centrist who is still the odds-on favorite to the nomination.
Buttigieg receives the sort of scrutiny one might expect from a front-runner despite being way behind in national polls. Joe Biden represents the far greater threat to the young left’s favored candidate, Bernie Sanders. But Biden seems to avoid much of the highly personal animosity heaped on his co-runner in the competitive lane of B-Surnamed Moderates.
The Atlantic goes on to list why Buttigieg is in trouble with his peers.
1. Don’t overthink it: They hate him because he’s not a socialist—and his early-state poll numbers are rising.
This is the obvious answer and, frankly, it might be the only answer. In the past two months, no candidate has gained more than Buttigieg in the early states. If he wins in Iowa and New Hampshire, he could block Bernie Sanders’s path to the nomination. . .
2. Keep not overthinking it: They also hate him because they think he’s a liar.
There’s no question that Buttigieg, glimpsing an opening in the moderate lane, has tacked toward the center in the past few months. He initially seemed to support Medicare For All, and now he openly criticizes the effect it would have on private-insurance employment. He initially proposed radical government reforms such as packing the Supreme Court and removing the filibuster, but now he’s recast himself as a moderate unifier. . .
3. Overthink it a little bit: Young people hate him because he’s a traitor to his generation.
Generational identity is arguably the most important dividing line in the Democratic Party—more than class, race, or education. . .
4. Overthink it more: Young people project an extreme hostility toward Buttigieg on the internet in part to exorcise their own anxieties about success and increase their in-group status. . .
Young educated liberals look at Buttigieg and see a nauseating caricature, not of the person they are, or even the person they wanted to be, but of the person they’ve felt pressured to emulate but never quite became.
Buttigieg is much more liberal than Biden, and has little chance of winning the nomination, so why the animosity? One of the reasons is that animosity is what passes for thought these days. If you read our comments, after the nausea, you’ll be struck with the fact that these commentors don’t just disagree, they hate, and the venom is lethal. Left is left and right is right “and never the twain shall meet.”
It may be heretical to bring Ronald Reagan into this discussion, but he had powerful and effective political instincts. He realized that it takes people to make change, and that means gathering people together, not forcing them to take a litmus test on every issue. He famously said, “if you agree with me 80 percent of the time, you’re an 80 percent friend and not a 20 percent enemy”
Gathering people on his side was only half the equation. You also have to work to keep them there.
Throughout his political career, Reagan preached what he called the 11th Commandment — “Thou Shalt Not Speak Ill of Another Republican.”
The vitriol in our comment section is not just left against right, but also left against far-left, and right against far-right. The right invented “RINO” to denigrate centrists who can’t pass the right’s litmus test on any issue. So far, the far-left doesn’t seem to have an equivalent epithet, but the hateful mentality is certainly there.
It is that hate that is bringing Mayor Pete, the rising young star, down to earth. And now, let the hateful comments begin. . .