Journalists like to refer to South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg as a "moderate" and "centrist." But it is probably time we retire those descriptors for the 2020 Democratic primary candidate.
Buttigieg flirts with the middle, yes, but he is also a big fan of the Beto O'Rourke strategy of promoting even the wildest left-wing talking points to excite the Democratic base. So much so, in fact, that it seems the mayor's supposed centrism is more a put-on for gullible pundits and journalists.
During an appearance, this weekend, at Greenleaf Christian Church in Goldsboro, North Carolina, Buttigieg was pressed by Rev. William Barber to give his views on illegal immigration. "Why can't we just own in America that some of the people that are trying to come from Mexico here are coming back to land we stole, and the reason we took the land is because people wanted to keep their slaves?"
Buttigieg nodded along silently in apparent approval.
On June 27, during the second night of the first round of 2020 Democratic primary debates, Buttigieg raised his hand when the candidates were asked if their "government plan would provide coverage for undocumented immigrants." The mayor has voiced support for packing the Supreme Court. Buttigieg is fiercely anti-religion, probably more so than anyone else in the 2020 Democratic primary. The mayor has called for the abolition of the electoral college. He has engaged in performative acts of resistance to appease the base, including returning donations from lawyers who represented Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. Buttigieg has even embraced the Stacey Abrams voter suppression conspiracy theory.
It is not that surprising, then, to see the mayor nod along with Barber's assertion that illegal immigrants are merely taking back stolen land.
The weird thing is, this strategy of weirdly provocative radicalism failed O'Rourke, but it's working for Buttigieg, making the mayor a real player.