What’s Going On: Is America ready to elect a homosexual president?
I’ll be the first to admit, 11 years ago, I never thought it was possible.
From what was considered at the time a crowded field of eight candidates, a relatively unknown congressman from Illinois emerged as the front runner for the Democratic presidential nomination.
I wrote then it would be a mistake for the Democrats to place him atop the ticket if they really wanted to win back the Oval Office for the first time in the 21st century. He was too much an unknown to garner votes or dollars. He was too young. His name was too weird.
And most importantly, he was too black.
Living in Missouri at the time, where a confederate flag still flew at a nearby cemetery as well as at several private residences, I didn’t think the country was capable of electing a black man to lead it.
Obviously, I was wrong as Barack Obama would be elected not once, but twice.
Fast forward to 2016 and voters got another chance to elect a previously oppressed minority to the Oval Office when Hillary Clinton became the first woman to receive a major party’s presidential nomination.
We all know how that turned out, but I don’t think it had anything to do with the fact she was a woman but more because she was a Clinton, and not the fast-talking, charismatic one who could smile his way through anything.
And now, the Democrats may go for the historical hat trick by nominating an openly gay man for president.
But is this country ready to elect a homosexual?
Last week, “Uncle” Joe Biden made it an even score.
With the former vice-president’s announcement he too would seek the nomination, there is now an even 20 people seeking the honor of opposing (most likely) Donald Trump in the 2020 election.
To put that number into perspective, disregarding 2012 when there was an incumbent, there has been only 26 Democratic candidates this century to seek the nomination with a high of nine in 2004, less than half of the current field.
Of those 26 nominees, several were relatively unknown candidates who withdrew from the race either quickly or without much impact; names such as Lyndon Larouche, Mike Gravel, Carol Mosley Braun and Lawrence Lessig.
Needless to say, with 20 candidates and the list possibly growing, there are plenty of those “unknowns” this time as well. In fact, I would argue most Americans have probably never heard of at least half of the candidates such as Julian Castro, John Delaney, Tulsi Gabbard, Jay Inglee, Wayne Messam, Seth Moulton, Tim Ryan, Eric Swalwell, Marianne Williamson and Andrew Yang.
There are several familiar faces and names along with Biden, including some from the “establishment” camp like Senators Elizabeth Warren, Corey Booker, Kristen Gillibrand, Kamala Harris, Bernie Sanders, and of course, our own Amy Klobuchar.
And then there’s “Mayor Pete.”
He’s referred to that way for two reasons. One, he’s the mayor of South Bend, Ind., which pretty much encompasses his entire political experience, and two, he has a last name that’s equally hard to pronounce as it is to spell: Buttigieg.
The fact that his political experience is very limited, to say the least, is one thing he has in common with our current president; and many would argue, the only thing.
Beyond being a “political outsider,” which played well for President Trump in 2016, Buttigieg is pretty much the complete opposite to our current leader.
Words such as “calm,” “thoughtful” and “diplomatic” have been used to describe him. He’s young, eloquent and difficult to antagonize. Beyond their very different demeanors, their backgrounds are also in stark contrast as Buttigieg was raised in a middle class, rural Midwest home and would serve as an officer in the US Navy, including a deployment to Afghanistan and a medal for his work in counterterrorism.
Another stark difference: he’s only been married once, and it is to a man.
As a man married to another man, Buttigieg is clearly not trying to hide the fact he’s a homosexual. That kind of goes with the “open” part of his lifestyle.
And while he doesn’t try to hide from that, he also doesn’t want to be known as the “gay” candidate. And I can’t say I blame him. He’s very smart and has a lot of ideas about how to improve this country which he believes (like most Democrats) has a lot of problems.
But unfortunately for him, he is going to be known as the gay candidate and that’s exactly why he’s the wrong person at the wrong time for the Democrats.
First, its important to acknowledge the historical significance of Buttigieg’s ascension and candidacy. Not only has an openly gay individual never received a nomination for president, there hasn’t even been one to seek it. Buttigieg is literally going where no man, or woman, has gone before. The same can’t be said of Obama or Clinton.
The American voter had already been introduced to the possibility of a black and a woman as a viable candidate, whether it was Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, Geraldine Ferraro, Sarah Palin, or Braun, a black woman who ran in 2004.
But a homosexual? That’s a new one.
More importantly, President Trump is simply the wrong incumbent for the first homosexual to run against.
If Trump loses in 2020, it will be because he lost some of the absolutely essential Evangelical Christian support he had in 2016. Considering his actions and words, its not hard to imagine some of those voters either supporting someone else or simply staying home, especially after already getting two conservative judges on the Supreme Court.
But if the “other” candidate is a homosexual? I’m doubting they would be so apathetic.
It would seem President Trump would agree. Last week in an interview with Sean Hannity, he indicated he was “rooting” for Buttigieg.
I think I know why.
Don’t misinterpret may statements as a condemnation of Buttigieg’s lifestyle because they aren’t as more of a commentary on our current political landscape. And again, I’ve been wrong before.
But right or wrong, I don’t think I am this time.
Gregory Orear is the publisher of The Journal. His award-winning weekly column, “What’s Going On,” has been published in four newspapers in three states for more than 20 years. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.