Pete Buttigieg and I disagree on many policies, which you might expect, because he describes himself as a progressive and I’m a conservative. I believe his views on abortion to be extreme, for example, and his approach to religious liberties to be uncompromising. But I can acknowledge those differences while also acknowledging the admiration I have for Buttigieg, who dropped out of the Democratic presidential race yesterday.
My admiration goes beyond the fact that in a field that at one stage exceeded two dozen, a 38-year-old former mayor of a city of roughly 100,000 people—who started the race a year ago without great personal wealth, no national base, and a staff of four—finished in the top four in the first four contests.
More impressive to me was the core theme of Buttigieg’s campaign, which he referred to as a “new kind of politics.” In the pre-Trump era, that may well have come across as an empty slogan; in the age of Trump, it captures an urgent national need.
During his campaign, Buttigieg spoke about what he called “rules of the road,” values that he wanted to make hallmarks of his candidacy and that included respect, responsibility, discipline, excellence, joy, and truth. This is what the Buttigieg campaign said about the latter:
Honesty is in our nature, and it is one of our greatest means of restoring faith in our democracy among everyday Americans and building a national movement rooted in trust and faith in our country and our beliefs. Internally and externally, our effort will be characterized by fidelity to the truth.
That is the kind of language and ethos that once would have appealed to Republicans, who now, under the spell of a president of corruptions without borders, have given up on virtue as a touchstone of political life. Politicians and presidents attempting to foster a climate of trust and mutual respect are snowflakes—or so many in the modern GOP and right-wing-media complex would have you think.