• David Wolfe Bender

Pete Buttigieg Addresses Young Democrats of America in Indy, Uses His Youth as a Selling Point

Updated: Jan 30


Pete Buttigieg speaks at the Young Democrats of America Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana.

Not long ago, the Young Democrats of Indiana announced that South Bend Mayor and 2020 Democratic candidate Pete Buttigieg will headline the 2019 Young Democrats of America convention in Indianapolis, Indiana. Over 1,000 delegates attended the convention, many of whom were packed into a convention hall downtown to hear the youngest member of the crowded Democratic field speak.


Kieth Potts–a rising star in Indiana Democratic politics running for Indianapolis City Council–opened for Buttigieg, emphasizing how the millennial generation will make a significant impact in the 2019 and 2020 election seasons.


"We are the generation that rallied around the message of love and hope that earned three million more votes than the message of fear and division," Potts said, referencing the 2016 popular vote victory for Secretary of State and 2016 Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton. "[The millennials] are the generation that unapologetically believes that black lives matter."


Buttigieg opened his speech with a series of jokes directed as his youth. "I'm proud to consider myself at least a relatively young Democrat," he said. "[Especially] by the standards of the Presidential election."


While some view Buttigieg's youth as inexperience, he fundamentally takes a different opinion, asserting that his generation will suffer many of the consequences of the actions of previous generations.


"I belong to the first generation that's gonna spend most of our adult lives on the business end of climate change," he said. "I was in high school when the Columbine shooting happened...and now we see a second generation emerging with school shootings as the norm."


"I was in high school when the Columbine shooting happened...and now we see a second generation emerging with school shootings as the norm."

Buttigieg frequently touts his policies on climate change, gun prevention, and urban development as ones that he can cater to the youth population. And while some Democrats, including young people, support his policies, there are many that feel they do not go far enough to prevent the impact of climate change.


"Mayor Buttigieg's policies, if he were to win the nomination, would be destructive to the climate effort in the United States," climate change activist Isabella Fallahi said. "We need a Green New Deal, but [Buttigieg] says that's impractical. His policies are supportive of the fossil fuel industry."


Buttigieg, however, used the speech to paint a picture of how he viewed a series of conservative policies throughout his life.


"As I made my way through high school, I saw Republicans telling us 'just keep cutting taxes on the wealthiest, and it'll pay for itself,'" he said. "In the 2000s, the big message from the Republican side of the aisle was 'we really need to deregulate the banks more.'"


Buttigieg continued to utilize examples throughout his speech where Republicans enacted policies that he believed hurt members of his generation, such as endless wars in the Middle East.


The Students United Network secured press credentials to the event and attended the press gaggle after the speech, where Buttigieg expressed his belief that college tuition is getting too expensive.


"We've got to press states to stop off-loading more and more of the cost of college onto students."

"We've got to press states to stop off-loading more and more of the cost of college onto students," he said to a Students United reporter in the post-speech gaggle. "We also need to support students with an expanded Pell Grant program. This time, we ought to do it in a way that you can actually use [the money] on living expenses, as well as tuition and fees."


Buttigieg also expressed his support for an expanded public service loan-forgiveness program that would aim to pay off loans for students who enter either military or civil service positions in the United States.


The Iowa Caucuses–the first election in the primary season–is being held on February 3rd, 2020. Despite the fact that it is a long way off, the FiveThirtyEight polling average places Buttigieg in third place at 11.8%, behind Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders (17.8%) and former Vice President Joe Biden (26.5%).


Buttigieg is, however, posting impressive fundraising numbers. He raised almost $25 million in the second quarter, more than any other Democratic contender in the race. He was asked about what that means for him after the speech. 


“It only matters in terms of what we do with it,” he said. “It’s not so much about the bragging rights as the ability to put those resources into the ground and use them to hire organizers. We’ve got a lot of work to do to build that team.”


(Editor's Note: This article was published by the Students United Reporting Network, a student-organized news network that publishes news packages. This article was accompanied by a live-stream on Periscope and a live interview with City Council Candidate Kieth Potts. Additionally, as a free student news wire service, we grant permission for all student newspapers to reprint this story on their platforms, so long as author credit is granted to "Students United." For more information on Students United and how you can get involved, click here.)

© 2020 by David Wolfe Bender.

Photos courtesy of the Freedom Forum Institute.