Pete Buttigieg’s speech late tonight in Minneapolis lasted exactly 30 minutes and 50 seconds. He made news on a national police database, and a bunch of other stuff. The whole thing is newsy throughout, and absolutely worth reading. The following is a transcript of Pete Buttigieg’s speech in Minneapolis, extremely late at night on 5/2/2019.
Thank you. Thank you. Thank you so much.
Let's hear it one more time for Councilmember Cunningham and Mayor Hodges. Longtime friend from the world of mayoring and a new friend that I'm so glad to have been able to get to know. Thank you.
And thank you all for being part of this. And for -- I have rarely felt so welcome in a new place. I used to come up here once a month.
Little buzz there -- I'm gonna see -- is this less buzzy? All right, we'll just live with the buzz.
So -- used to come up here every month for for Navy training. I know you don't think of this as one of the great naval places in the union, but they used to send me up here every month. I got a taste of Minnesota winter. I got a taste of Minnesota nice. Got a few tastes of Minnesota beer.
I also was put in touch with one of the reasons we need to remember that the Democratic Party need not be a coastal party only, but that we actually are coast-to-coast and the Midwest has a rich progressive tradition that is alive and well here in this state.
It is written into the name of the party here that farmers and laborers ought to be together and ought to be together under our banner.
And I love that because part of what I'm trying to do is help people imagine a broader picture for the Democratic Party. Of course, we love our friends on the coast. But we don't want it ever to get written into stone that the middle of the country has to be bright red. We know better. And it's one of the many improbable things about my candidacy, and perhaps would be an improbable thing about my presidency, that we might begin a new progressive era with a Midwestern millennial mayor.
Now, the idea of a mayor running for president was pretty exotic too -- a lot of eyebrows went up when I said that we're going to do this, but it's a moment that I think is calling for a different kind of leadership. I know it's traditional to get marinated in Washington for good 10, 20, 30, years before you run for President.
I’m one of those who believes we would be well served if we could get Washington to look a bit more like our best run cities and towns instead of the other way around.
You will never, for example, see a city government shut down because of an ideological disagreement. It's unthinkable. Because we deliver water and you need water to live. And so just doesn't work. We figure out how to solve problems. Doesn't mean we don't have politics. It doesn't mean we don't have fiercely contested politics. But those politics are always about getting better results.
And a mayor of a city of any size is living the challenges that we're experiencing as a country, whether it is equitable economic development, whether it is racial justice, whether it is social justice, all of these things cash out somewhere in particular, they're not abstractions, they're not theories. And while we talk about people as though they were just categories, like right now a lot is being lot of hate is being directed in the category of immigrants. At the local level, we know that these are human beings because they’re are neighbors and coworkers.
And whether it is disabled people or black and brown people or queer people or people who worship differently than we do. We know at the local level that these are also members of our community -- that we have moral as well as political relationships with.
So why not send a mayor to Washington to change things a little bit out there?
And yes, I am aware it is traditional for a candidate for the American presidency to have a little more silver hair than I've got just yet. Although I promise you every time I open Twitter, a new gray hair turns up right around my temples.
But isn't it time for generational change in our leadership too? And when I see around this country, what I see when I'm campaigning, whether I am in rural Iowa or whether I'm in one of our great cities, whether I'm in this room -- is the makings of a generational alliance for change. People of all ages, who care about what the world's going to look like in that year. I like reminding everybody about, 2054, when I get to be the current age of the current president, hopefully, put my feet up, celebrating all the progress that America has made.
But remember, a message about 2054 -- by definition -- cannot be a message that revolves around the personality of the current president.
Now, it is going to take a lot of discipline for us to change the subject because this President, like all this presidency itself, like all grotesque things is hard to look away from.
And of course, it needs to be called out when it does something wrong. And of course, he needs to be called out when he lies. But that's not a message. Not alone. The message can't be about him because if it's all about him, then it's not about you.
So our message is not about their candidate. It's not about our candidate. It is about freedom, democracy and security and what they mean in the 21st century.
We know that there's a lot more to freedom than cutting taxes and regulations. We know that there's more than government that can make you unfree. Your neighbor can make you on free. That's one of the reasons we invented government in the first place.
Your cable company can make you unfree.
Your county clerk can make you unfree if they get to tell you who you ought to marry.
You're not free if you're not able to go start a small business because you're afraid that if you leave your job, you're gonna lose your health care.
Or if you're not able to organize for a good day's pay for a good day's work.
Teachers are not free to concentrate their efforts on teaching their children.
And women in this country are less and less free to make their own healthcare decisions.
So we're going to remind everybody what freedom really looks like. And we're going to remind everybody what security means in the 21st century where there's a lot more to it than just putting up a wall from sea to shining sea.
A wall can't keep out a cyber attack.
A wall can't protect our elections from hostile foreign actors.
And a wall is certainly not enough to deal one of the biggest security threats of our time, which is a rising tide of violent white nationalism.
And in order to fight it, we first have to name it and we're not afraid to do that.
So we're going to work to keep each other safe from all of those threats and perhaps the biggest threat of all, which is climate disruption, and lives are on the line.
And to get any of that done, we got to fix our democracy. We're called the Democratic party or the Democratic former Labour Party -- if you prefer -- for a reason. For good reason, which is we’re the ones who believe in democracy,
We all live democracy, the experience of making sure that our government works for us instead of the other way around. And that depends on having free and fair elections.
Which is why we would be well-served to make sure that our districts are drawn so that we actually get to choose our politicians instead of politicians choosing their vote.
It's why you in Minnesota, and I, in Indiana have an obligation to our fellow U.S. citizens in the District of Columbia in Puerto Rico to make sure they get representation too.
And yes, that's why we might go so far as to restructure our presidential election so we just give it to the woman or man who gets the most votes.
Simple minded Midwestern common sense ideas. Maybe we ought to be given a chance.
We can achieve all of this and more and I can see it because frankly, I was expecting to spend the better part of the spring and summer just getting people to be able to say my name and -- and clawing my way into the top half of candidates or so and then try to win later on.
Now I'm still working on getting people say my name…
MAN IN CROWD: We know your name, Pete!
[crowd chanting boot-edge-edge]
That's pretty good.
Well, the good news is that I don't think we have to make the case anymore that we belong in the Presidential campaign. We just got to win.
But I need your help. And you're here, which means I'm getting your help, for which I'm thankful. So thank you in advance for everything else that we may ask you to do.
Because I'm preaching to the choir, you've heard the message, and you see some value in and you understand what's at stake with freedom, democracy and security. You understand why somebody who is completely different just might be the right answer for the White House.
But when I asked you for your help, I'm not just asking you to go do things that are going to help me.. not just to take this campaign out there and make sure that we get our way -- although we're certainly working to persuade people -- but I'm also addressing you because this room full of people is -- in a very important sense -- is our campaign. One of the first thing you things you learn as a mayor, that it's the city, it's the community that is actually doing the doing. You're conducting, you can set a tone, you can set a tempo, you can pick out the music, but they're the ones with all the instruments. It's the same thing on a presidential campaign. And so I need you to invite more people to be part of this process. And I need you to invite people not only to support this effort, but also to help shape it.
You know, this is something that needs to reflect the values that we're preaching. In its character, and its conduct, in its tone, and its diversity. I need your help. And so I'm asking you to talk to people to listen to people to feed information into this organization and also carry this message out, and shout it from the rooftops because I believe that we have a message that will get us all the way to the White House.
So I didn't aim to come here just for a monologue. I think with the help from some friends. We're gonna have some some questions that we've gotten from the audience. Oh, look at that. All right.
We have the questions.
Councilmember Cunningham. Are you ready? Yes, ma'am. Would you like to draw the first question, please? Yes, ma'am.
Q: All right. You've mentioned that you support democratic elections in Venezuela. Can you talk about your stance on regime change wars?
A: Great question.
Q: We don't mess around here.
A: Well, one simple way to put it, is that the next president has to commit to putting an end to endless war.
Now, in the case of Venezuela, I'm very troubled by what the regime is doing. There's no question about that. The regime has given up its legitimacy in many ways. But that doesn't mean that the U.S. as the Secretary of State did yesterday, ought to go around casually threatening to use U.S. military force.
You know, when when when you put up your right hand and take that oath, to become part of the military, you're doing that with the expectation that the commander-in-chief and the policymakers who hold those decisions over war and peace, are not going to take them lightly. You're not going to casually throw around the idea of getting involved militarily unless core fundamental life and death issues -- here in the homeland -- are at stake. Now, we can be part of an international community that undertakes legitimate actions, especially using diplomatic and international economic tools to try to bring about better outcomes. And to the extent that we can promote and defend human rights and democracy that way we absolutely ought to be there. Of course, that's only going to work if the U.S. has some moral authority.
When I was downrange, I can't explain how but I could feel the extent to which the flag on my shoulder was perceived as representing a country that kept its word. And my life depended in some way on that fact. And as we lose that, we become not only worse off morally, but also less secure and the next President has a lot of work to do to establish once again, U.S. credibility around the world.
Q: What will you do in your first hundred days?
All right, so we'll just fix everything. I think it's probably the best way to go.
No, job number one is democratic reform. So you take H.R. 1, the anti-corruption, pro-democracy bill that was passed in the House, only to die in the Senate. That's a good starting point.
But we're going to build on that, actions that serve to begin the conversation about structural reform top, like Supreme Court reform and -- and Electoral College reform.
Now, It's not because I think you can do this overnight in 100 days, or even some of these reforms in in one term, but this is what I mean, when I talk about laying the groundwork to win an era. We can't just think a few years at a time. What we do now sets the tone for what the next 40 years are going to be like.
And the issues we care about from -- from climate to gun violence, to immigration to education are going to be really hard to tackle as long as we have a warped democracy. So I think on day one, we defend our democracy. And then we get to work right away on climate change.
Q: What are your thoughts on how to leverage technology as appropriate to assist government in being more productive?
A: All right. If we had another 20 minutes or so I talked about how South Bend came to have the smartest wastewater system in the world. It's one of my favorite subjects -- but I will -- it's -- [laughter] -- it's in the book -- [laughter] -- you can read about it -- [laughter] -- the book, if you like that kind of -- [laughter] -- the point is, good technology can make government dramatically more efficient. We can serve people better, we can do it at a lower cost.
We use it for everything from helping us fill potholes to -- to making sure that we're able to build trust between the police and the community by publishing line-by-line data about use of force incidents.
But that doesn't mean it's all good because what one of the things you can automate really easily is bias.
So I'll give you a simple example that I learned about recently. It may have been corrected, but up until recently, it was the case that if you went into Google Translate, and you keyed in the phrase, “she is a doctor, he is a nurse” and you translated it into Turkish which doesn't have gender pronouns -- I'm told. I don't speak Turkish. But that's -- I guess, how this works.
Q1: Give him a week.
Anyway, the important thing is there's not gender pronouns. Then you you open up a new window, and you type in what you copy pasted. You know what you got in Turkish and you put it back in English, it comes back to you as he is a doctor, she is a nurse.
Now, that is not because some sexist programmer at Google on the Turkish module was going “I’m -- make sure there's no more female, right?” It happens because artificial intelligence is only as good as what it drinks up from the rest of us. And if it's inhaling the biases of a biased world, it's going to reinforce and steep in those biases and those inequities, so at a time when artificial intelligence, machine learning, automation, and technology, are going to change everything, not just government, but the private sector, blue collar white collar, I don't care, our relationship to the working world is changing.
We've got to work extra hard to make sure that it does so in a way that's consistent with the right values, rather than unthinkingly repeating some of the worst weaknesses that we as human beings have.
Q: How would you bring back the burn-the-house-down voters?
A: Ah. great. Question is, “How you gonna bring back the burn-the-house down voters?” In other words, people who voted for this president -- under no illusion about whether he's a good guy -- but as a way to send a message that everything had let them down and they just want to burn the house down.
And this is important because even though very little what this president says is true, there is a sort of what you see is what you get quality to him, in a way.
And part of it's this idea that we're just going to smash everything to the ground. And so we need to make sure that we're addressing the causes of which he is a symptom.
This is really important. Don't get me wrong. I'm not saying we excuse for one second, the racism, the xenophobia, or any of the other hateful dimensions that helped bring this President to power. I'm talking about asking ourselves how our country got to the point where a figure like him could even get within cheating distance of the Oval Office.
Because that doesn't just happen if things are going along just fine.
It happens when our economy and our democracy are warped to where they're no longer delivering for people. And then that makes people vulnerable or susceptible to messages that brings out the worst in us.
And so there's two things that we can do to confront that. The first is to offer up a message that brings out the best in us.
It's harder -- it's harder to use the language and the machinery of politics to make people feel secure and open hearted and forward-thinking than it is to use the language and the machinery of politics to make people feel closed off and frightened and insecure and backward-looking and exclusionary, but it can be done otherwise, we shouldn't even be here.
And the other thing we need to do, and the premise of this campaign is that we have to pay attention and fix the actual fundamental problems in our economy and our democracy that helped make presidencies like the one we're living through even possible
Q: At what point will you shift from a discussion on shared values into technical policy? What issues merit being discussed sooner and in greater detail?
Right. So there's always this balance in presidential politics where you got to make sure you make it clear where you stand on every individual issue. And you also need to make it clear why. And I'm trying to have a campaign that -- that launches long on the why and on the values part.
But no one should have any trouble understanding where we stand on any particular issue. And so you're going to see more and more from us -- we’ve already created a search tool that will help you find what I have to say on everything from something as technical as whether we should terminate the tax ability, the Income Based Repayment forgiveness on student loans.
Yes, we should.
To -- you know, the fact that I think freedom is good and kind of everything in between.
But we will continue using old fashioned strategies like -- like, given the policy address, that's how you're going to find out in a more kind of targeted and easy-to-navigate form what I would have to say about foreign policy and U.S. national security policy, to making sure that there's enough content on the website that you have, you can kind of grab hold of the different areas we care about most. And to answer the question of what those areas are: I mean, obviously, we're gonna have to weigh in on just about everything in some way.
But you'll be seeing a lot of attention to climate. You'll be seeing a lot of attention to economic empowerment, including not only lifting wages, but also labor standards.
And you're going to see some honesty about what it's going to take to pay for all the things we want to do with education, healthcare and infrastructure.
Q: I think that's it for questions, but I'm guessing Mayor Pete's not quite done. Thanks, everybody.
One more. Thank you for Mayor Betsy Hodges and Councilmember Felipe coming up.
And there's another pathbreaking elected official with us tonight. I don't know if you've noticed Hennepin County Sheriff Hutchinson's here to -- oh, where's Chasten, the question of the night -- Last time -- I -- he was touring a school. He's -- he's taking care of some stuff in New York, but he is bummed out to be missing tonight. So I should probably bring him back to Minneapolis, what do you think.
Let me just end on that note, by the way, i’s a great story -- profile on him in the Washington Post today, if you haven't had a chance.
Maybe we'll end with that, actually. So -- because this is -- I don't usually go around telling everybody about my own press clips.
But -- but this is, I think, really important because I get asked, I just was again, I get asked from time to time, why I don't seem angrier. And I get that because there's a lot to be angry about right now. There's a lot to be upset about. There's a lot to be despondent about in the trajectory of this country.
Patterns are setting in, in the life of this country that have the darkest echoes in the history of our country and in the history of civilization.
But it was Dr. King, who reminded us the darkness cannot drive out darkness. Only light can do that.
In a room like this, I see a chance to lift each other up to show rather than tell where our country ought to be, and what our president ought to be like, as an alternative to this horror show we have right now in Washington. And that the thing I want to leave you with is that being involved in politics, in any way, is an act of hope.
Running for office is an act of hope. Sending money to somebody running for office is an act of hope.
Staying on your feet in a crowded venue and listening to somebody running for office is an act of hope. We are building a community that thinks all of this is worth it, not because we are naive, on the contrary, because we were so alive to the cost of not doing something.
But we also have great grounds for hope. And in my own lifetime, I've seen what some of those grounds for hope are. And if you're wondering whether it is worth being hopeful today about our future, if you're wondering whether politics and political processes, and the decisions made by people in those white buildings in Washington can ever do any good.
Tomorrow morning -- and I'm saying this to you as somebody whose marriage could not have existed in my home state as recently as five years ago -- as somebody who could not have served openly on the first day I set foot at the at the Navy facility -- by the airport here -- tomorrow morning -- if you feel like it -- you can go to the newsstand. And you can grab a copy of Time Magazine.
And you can see the headline, “FIRST FAMILY.” And you're going to see a picture of a man and his husband sitting side by side. Does that make you feel hopeful? So can I count on your help? Then I can't lose. Thank you.