Pete Buttigieg will not be the next President of the United States. That’s not surprising.
But what may be more surprising to you is how well he did in his campaign. He raised a ton of money, at points ran high in the polls, and essentially tied for first place in the Iowa caucuses.
Question: If I’d told you when Buttigieg announced he was running that he would win the Iowa caucuses, would you have believed me?
I’ve said multiple times over the years that one of the things that hurts the Midwest is its lack of ambition. Unlike people on the coasts, you rarely see Midwesterners shoot for the moon. Perhaps that’s because people in the Midwest tend to make a realistic assessment of their chances at success before doing something, and often decide the risk/reward just isn’t good enough to make it a wise choice.
There’s a place for wisdom, but as Mayor Pete shows, there’s also a place for audacity. By being ambitious enough and audacious enough to run for President, despite only being the mayor of a relatively small Rust Belt city, he made himself a national figure and set himself up for a likely prominent role in the next administration, should the Democrat win in November.
Buttigieg understood that you can’t win the game unless you are in the game.
As a born and bred Hoosier, Buttigieg shows that Indiana and its people can compete on the national stage – if they want to and are savvy enough about how to do it.
Too often Midwesterners try to keep playing by yesterday’s rules. Pete Saunders likes to use sports as an analogy for this. Recruiting a bunch of in-state talent and using strategies like “three yards and a cloud of dust” or the motion offense don’t work anymore. The world has changed.
Pete Buttigieg avoided that mistake. He understood the rules of the modern era and set about building his success by acquiring and utilizing elite credentials and networks. He didn’t just work his way up through some old state political machine.
Maybe not all of us can replicate his success. But I think Pete Buttigieg’s outsized success in his run for President is a hopeful sign of what Indiana and the Midwest can achieve with the right ambitions and a 21st century approach.