As we hold our collective breath in this country today, it’s of little comfort that the distance to the next election can now be measured in months instead of years. As Americans, we must sit with the fact that we are helpless in many ways, at the mercy of a corrupt government led by an insecure, pugnacious toddler who has demonstrated no understanding of long-term strategy or the significant task of keeping Americans safe, both at home and abroad.
I would love more than anything to say I stand behind my president today. But I can’t deny in my heart that I have no faith in the Trump administration to prioritize international stability over its own personal thirst to hold power, smear domestic opposition, diminish the importance of the press, and keep us intentionally confused, helpless and afraid. We have all been witness to the pillars of leadership Trump prefers: impulsiveness, stonewalling, lying, complaining, and bullying the members of his own party to remain in lockstep or face his wrath on Twitter. It is truly pitiful.
There is also the additional concern of Trump ordering the assassination of Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani without any congressional authorization or notice, and having it done in such a blatantly public way that for Iranians to consider it anything other than a deliberate slap in the face is impossible. These are the actions of a man who invites – dares – our enemies to retaliate. Does our president expect that in cutting off one head in such an overt fashion, many more won’t sprout up in its place, feeling even more justified in taking whatever actions necessary to preserve their national dignity, regardless of the additional crushing chaos it may impose on the Middle East?
Whichever Democratic candidate we are supporting, I personally would feel better having any of them over the man we have in power today. Pete Buttigieg, Joe Biden, Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, regardless of policy differences, have all demonstrated a clear understanding of our nation’s pivotal role on the global stage. All strive for cautious, reasoned approaches to handling conflict. Their words about our enemies are measured and careful. They advocate approaches that tend not to invite threats of revenge, and don’t dare adversaries to defend their national honor through bloodshed. They understand that though negotiating is often imperfect, arduous, and frustrating, it beats butchery.
But of those four, only one of the candidates has actually been boots on the ground, defending the Untied States as Naval Intelligence Officer in a hostile, foreign land.
In his statement today on the killing of Suleimani, Pete Buttigieg made clear his understanding of the role of the Commander In Chief: “Before engaging in military action that could destabilize an entire region, we must take a strategic deliberate approach that includes consultation with Congress, our allies, and stakeholders in the Middle East. And the American people deserve answers on how we arrived at this point, the national security infrastructure we have in place, and the basis for this decision.”
Throughout his campaign, as he has been called to do, Pete Buttigieg has delivered transparency and answers to the voters he intends to represent in his administration. The police issues in South Bend, releasing the names of his clients at McKinsey, his meeting with Michael Harriot of TheRoot, his opening of fundraisers and his disclosure of donors. Pete understands the true measure of leadership is proving to the voters that he deserves their vote, and re-affirming his pledge to remain upfront and honest with them, again and again.
Now the democratic candidates, five of whom are preparing to debate on January 14th, will inevitably shift from domestic issues like health care and financial inequality, to topics of preventing war, preserving peace and the value they truly place on our American system of government. I am anxious to see Pete take the stage. I long to hear him speak on these issues as he always brings me a measure of peace. And I’m grateful the field has been trimmed down to a small handful of candidates who will have more time to engage and discuss, and hopefully present a united front against an administration of tyranny, greed and oppression.
And as for us, it’s so easy to feel overwhelmed, scared, and maybe even depressed at what we are facing. We should take comfort in the fact that the careful, deliberate construction of this country, its checks and balances, has held firm against attack, both foreign and home-grown, for hundreds of years. And so far in the Trump years, it continues to endure.
While Trump expects the fear he instills to paralyze us into resisting change this November, it is now more important than ever that we stand up and loudly support Pete Buttigieg as the man we choose to expel the current White House inhabitant from an office he never deserved, never wanted, and has never earned.