Letter from America: with KENNETH MUFUKA
When the ancient Romans saw the African horse (the zebra), they announced that those who want to experience wonders must visit Africa. Today, the surprising showing of 37-year-old Pete Buttigieg, a gay operative, mayor of a small town in Indiana, in a field of 23 experienced politicians, has taken Americans by storm.
I shall leave the juicy part to the end.
The first two Democratic Party primaries in Iowa and New Hampshire are over. While Senator Bernie Sanders (79), a 40-year political veteran, is supposed to be technically ahead, he was cheated of victory in Iowa and his thunder stolen in New Hampshire by Mayor Pete.
Democrats are the intellectual party and as such they are innovators. In their political dialogue, they love fresh ideas and handsome young men: JF Kennedy, the wild Bill Clinton and recently the handsome Barack Obama.
Mayor Pete is handsome; looks like a college kid, girls and boys swoon over him and sneak in to touch him. He served in Afghanistan and came home with honour and some epaulettes, capturing the mayor ship of South Bend at 29.
That by itself is a fairy tale.
The real story is that Pete sent his treasurer to all the multi-corporations with a simple message: INVEST IN PETE. Forty corporations and billionaires swallowed the hood, among them Microsoft, University of California, Alphabet and Walt Disney.
Then there was the problem of name recognition.
With 23 Democrats, and names like former vice-president Joe Biden, Senator Bernie Sanders and Senator Cory Booker, the shocker was that Pete, with less votes than Sanders, had more delegates to the conference. The story was repeated in New Hampshire, allowing Pete to make a victory speech.
Biden was badly beaten — Pete the college kid had 55 944 before midnight to Biden’s 20 240 votes.
Pete is cool under fire, a quality much admired in Obama.
Pete, calmly, without rancour, explains that the US must give way to new thinking. The old fogies (the Bidens and the Warrens) must give way.
This new thinking involves accepting social realities like weed smoking. Buyers and sellers of such products are sick really, and the police should dump them at some recovery centre rather than throw them in a jailhouse.
Now that is really cool-headed thinking. The under-30 generation loves him.
With 40% young black males in jailhouses, we know what the policy of “lock them up” has done to people of colour.
This looks very cool indeed.
Pete did an “Obama thing” the other day which may carry him a long way with the black voters. Brother Michael Harriot, a senior writer at the black newspaper, The ROOT, went berserk on the mayor. Michael called the mayor a liar followed by an F-word. Pete’s offence was his suggestion that one reason for the failure of black males in school was lack of family role models.
“There isn’t someone (in the black family) whom kids know personally testifies to the value of education,” he said.
Like Obama, Mayor Pete did not blow his stack. Instead, he called Michael for a pow-wow. Michael has since said some nice things about Pete, and in future, if Pete wins, he may consider working with him.
So, with that recommendation, that he will be guided by their wisdom, Pete now faces South Carolina black voters, a test of whether he is viable among people of colour.
Do or die
Pete has tremendous advantages. Americans want to go where no man has gone before. Young voters want to raise the middle finger against their parents by supporting a gay guy.
The churches cannot, in my opinion, come out loudly against Pete as the news media has already bracketed them in Trump’s camp — the deplorables, bigots, racist and homophobic.
But I have been advised that there is a way out for evangelicals and the black church patriarchs. They can simply advertise the wedding picture of Pete and his husband Chasten Gleizman.
There is a second way also. Pete made a victory speech last week.
“New Hampshire has shown the way for a new generation of leadership.
Thank you to Chase (the husband) — the love of my life.
We have the freedom to do what we want, not what the government wants us to do.
We must live free or die.
We are (the gays) here to stay!”
Biden is hoping that blacks are conservative enough not to look with favour upon Pete’s way of life. There are biblical examples where social renegades demanded freedom or death. There is no freedom outside the law, was the retort.
March 3 marks Super Tuesday. Fourteen states will come into play all in one day. Because of the expanses of the areas candidates must travel to show their presence, Pete has a personal jet-line which will carry 66 staff and journalists.
On the 1st of January, Pete’s bag of money which contained
US$75 million with some more cheques coming. Biden had US$35 million when I last checked.
Pete could very well win Hollywood and Silicon Valley. It is a combination of gay and lesbian groups in that state which combined with Silicon Valley and Hollywood to finance and propel Obama to victory.
The state boasts of 20% gay and lesbian population. It brings to the table 500 delegates. That is almost halfway to the 1 900 required for the nomination.
I am intuitively inclined to believe that Biden is backing the wrong horse. Religious groups are losing influence, partly due to the general acceptance of gay life. In college campuses gay kids are regarded as “coolest”.
l Ken Mufuka is a Zimbabwean patriot who writes from the US. He spent 10 years researching Life and Times of Robert Mugabe, Dream Betrayed, available in Zimbabwe at INNOV Bookshops and in the world at kenmufukabooks.com