The Democratic Party is set to have a historic primary season with 18 major candidates already announcing their run for president. The party has also amassed the most diverse primary field in history with more women and minority candidates than ever before.
Five women have already announced their candidacy. Among them is Kamala Harris, a biracial woman, whose father was Jamaican and mother was Indian. Also in the field is Julian Castro, whose grandmother immigrated to the United States from Mexico. There is also Cory Booker and Wayne Messam, both African-American politicians. And a rising star in the primary, Andrew Yang, is Asian American.
Such a diverse field of candidates makes me incredibly proud to call myself a Democrat. And in addition to all of the candidates already mentioned, Pete Buttigieg, an openly gay man, is running for President. Not only is he running, but he’s quickly climbing in the polls and is becoming a solid choice among millennials.
If elected, Buttigieg would become the first openly gay man and the youngest person elected as President. This is incredibly refreshing, as it seems like so much of our politics is dominated by older generations who are out of touch with modern-day society. Buttigieg is also the son of an immigrant father, who came to the United States from Malta in the 1970s.
While sometimes it seems like the U.S. is frustratingly slow at making progress, I am so proud of the progress we’ve made regarding the LGBTQ+ community. Just 13 years ago, in 2006, 53 percent of Americans said they’d be “very uncomfortable” or have “reservations” about having a gay or lesbian president. In 2019, 68 percent of Americans said they’d be “enthusiastic” or “comfortable” with a gay or lesbian president. Over half of Americans, 54 percent, said they’d be comfortable.
This is amazing progress, and it makes me proud to be a member of the Democratic Party, whose platform champions LGBTQ+ rights.
There’s a lot to like about Buttigieg. As a millennial and a member of the LGBTQ+ community, it’s exciting and humbling to have someone like you running for president. To know that he truly understands the struggles of millennials and of the LGBTQ+ community, he is a great representative of these demographics. And being the ones who have to endure the decisions of an administration for decades to come, this is a very positive thing.
While having such a diverse field of candidates is really cool and great for discussion, it’s important to remember that policy is also important. Identity can shape policy but the policy that a president will use to shape the country will have profound effects and must be taken seriously. Without a solid platform, it’s hard to take a candidate seriously.
There are still some questions surrounding Buttigieg that will ultimately determine if he has my vote in the primary. Most notably, he has not released a policy platform yet. His website does not feature an “issues” section and only describes his background. Other than being a Democrat, it’s unclear what his policy positions are. In fact, he currently seems more focused on storytelling than actual policy.
This is a stark contrast to some other candidates like Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Sanders has a well-defined platform, championing issues like “Medicare for All,” tuition-free college, a Green New Deal and fighting wealth and income inequality, among other things. And Warren has made opposition to the power of corporations a staple of her campaign.
In a time when urgent problems plague the nation, identity politics is not enough. As a party, we need to focus on policy. The best way to defeat President Trump is to show that Democratic policies are far better for the country than Trump’s. We need to give tangible reasons for voters to show up to the polls.
It’s still early in the primary season and the first debate isn’t until June, so there is plenty of time for Buttigieg to remedy this. Until he does so, I will continue to look on in admiration at his run for the White House but he will not have my vote. The future is too important.