His book is titled “Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future.” He was born in South Bend, Indiana, in 1982, after his parents moved there from El Paso, Texas. His father is a first-generation American who was born in Malta. He attended Harvard and graduated with honors. Then he was named a Rhodes Scholar and attended Oxford University in England. He got a job at a consulting firm, McKinsey & Co., working for various clients, but he says he did not find that work very rewarding. In 2004 he worked on John Kerry’s unsuccessful presidential campaign.
In 2009 he joined the United States Navy Reserve, becoming a Lieutenant. In 2010 he ran for State Treasurer of Indiana but lost. The following year, he ran for Mayor of South bend and won with a big majority. As mayor, he focused on the local issues of importance, including modernizing the sewer system, the implementation of a 311 system, and municipal budgeting. One of his signature achievements was a “1,000 properties in 1,000 days” initiative to repair or demolish many of the city’s vacant houses. In 2014, while he was mayor, he was deployed to Afghanistan and served for one tour of duty. He took a leave of absence as mayor to fulfill his military commitment.
In 2015, after returning from active military duty and resuming his mayoral duties, he came out publicly in a column he wrote for the South Bend Tribune in which he revealed his sexual orientation to one and all. Also in 2015, he spoke out against an anti-gay Indiana state law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which was signed by then Governor Mike Pence. Later that year, he was re-elected with an even larger majority.
A few more notes on Mayor Pete Buttigieg:
- He plays the piano!
- He’s also really smart and speaks multiple languages, although he does not brag about this in his book.
- He met his husband, Chasten Glezman, on a dating app, and they were married in 2017.
- Together they adopted a rescue dog and named him Truman (after the President).
- His second term ended on January 1 of this year, so now he is former Mayor.
In his book, he talks a great deal about his hometown, which was among the hardest hit in the Rust Belt. He also reflects on the vapidity of the catchphrase used by the current occupant of the White House. In the concluding, and best, chapter of the book, he points out that what’s printed on that red hat is actually a backward-looking slogan based largely on fear. He articulates many of the feelings I have had myself about this for some time now. Therefore in today’s book report I will let the Mayor have the final words:
“There is no going back. South Bend cannot and should not rewind to the Studebaker heyday of the 1950s, just as America cannot restore the old order in which families obeyed a single, male head of household, each race had its so-called place, average weather was the same from one decade to the next, and a job was for life.
“We don’t actually want to go back. We just think we do, sometimes, when we feel more alert to losses than to gains. A sense of loss inclines us, in vulnerable moments, to view the future with an expectation of harm. But when this happens, we miss the power of a well-envisioned future to inspire us toward greatness.
“There is nothing necessarily wrong with greatness, as an aspiration, a theme, or even as the basis of a political program. The problem, politically, is that we keep looking for greatness in all the wrong places. We think we can find it in the past, dredged up from some impossible ‘again,’ when it reality it is available only to those who fix their vision on the future.
“South Bend, for all our struggles, has formed my faith in a great future.”