On our first week in Iowa, we attended a rally for Presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg. Some of Buttigieg’s main policies include supporting Medicare for all who want it; setting him apart from Sanders and Warren, more affordable higher education, racial justice, and investing in teachers. He is also one of the first openly gay presidential candidates.
Whilst he may be unlikely to overtake Warren, Biden, and Sanders in vying for the Democrat Presidential Candidate, he made a statement that I think is important to share:
“There is no honest politics that revolves around the word again – there is only the future and making it better”
Trump’s tired jargon of “Make America Great Again” and rhetoric surrounding nationalism, which correlates with our own Brexit dilemma back home, portrays a misunderstanding of our past and present political climate. It has also encouraged racism and anti-immigration thinking. Brexiteers have used the tired rhetoric of sovereignty and “we want our country back” – as if leaving the EU will somehow return us to this wonderful promise land. In reality, the past is the past. It is something we can learn from, not something that we can return to. When looking to the future and how to make it better I don’t see Donald Trump or leaving the EU as the solution. Today the United States has been engulfed with police racism and brutality, gun violence, and an inhumane border crisis. Whilst tackling these issues, most of the democratic presidential candidates are also trying to push for universal health care, more affordable education, a universal minimum wage, etc. These things can make the future better, and this is the goal we should be focused on.
There is a real element of an identity crisis here. By looking to the past as the goal for the future, we’re disregarding our current political and social climate and our place in it. When you really think about where you’re going in life, are you looking to the future? Are you learning from your past, and trying to see the lessons you have learned from the positives and negatives, in order to inform your present and future? That’s the biggest piece of advice I could give from this, and really if you’re someone that believes that everything happens for a reason, why would you ever try to return to your past?
One thing I always enjoyed about studying history in school was being able to see the pattern between the past and present. History has informed our present and will inform our future. Honest politics should always recognise the past, and learn from it, but should focus its attention on how we can make the future better. The past is an example of how to improve. As soon as we try and repeat the past, we are completely diverging our attention to an unrealistic and unobtainable goal.
Whilst Pete Buttigieg may not make it as President, he has launched his political career beyond his accomplishment of Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, something he has already achieved at a young age. Many have also speculated that he would be a successful Vice President. What I take from Pete Buttigieg is a powerful message, that I think sums up our current political crisis at home (particularly with Brexit) and in the United States. We need to focus on making the future better, and this needs to be achieved by going forwards and not back.