Buttigieg to Mike Pence: You don't have a problem with me being gay, you have a problem with my creator

I’m rooting for this guy in the primaries now, just because I want the 2020 general election to become a referendum on whether God makes gays gay, whether they choose it in defiance of God’s wishes, or whether it’s some in-between thing where they’re born straight but something beyond their control happens during their formative years to alter their orientation irretrievably.

Maybe we can get an independent candidate who’s bi in the race to represent the last position. Sinema 2020?

I don’t recall Pence having said a word about “Mayor Pete” or his sexual identity. Well, except:

He’s had plenty to say about gay-rights policies but he’s also known to say things like this:

If Pence believes being gay is a choice and also believes widespread acceptance of homosexuality is bad for society, I’m baffled as to why he’d want to penalize a business owner who objects to people choosing to engage in socially destructive behavior. But that’s a discussion for October of next year, when the Trump/Buttigieg race is boiling down to the Important Issues.

For now it’s enough to say that Buttigieg’s frequent attacks on Trump, Pence, and their evangelical supporters for religious hypocrisy is extremely clever strategy by a guy looking for an angle to boost himself into the top tier. One of Buttigieg’s talents (and one which many young politicians share) is how he presents himself as essentially guileless, a fawn wandering America’s foreboding political forest. “Mayor Pete” speaks from the heart; it’s the desiccated dinosaurs who’ve spent the last 50 years serving time in Washington who obsess about “strategy.” Except that’s garbage, of course. Needling Trump and Pence on morality is a strategic decision, and a shrewd one as it efficiently signals all sorts of virtues to progressives. It shows Buttigieg is a fighter willing to engage the right on “their” turf; it seizes the moral high ground in anticipation of attacks on Buttigieg’s sexuality; it tells the left that they, not the right, are actually the more Christian of America’s two political camps, an intoxicating message to religious (and even irreligious) partisans. It also “elevates” Buttigieg by pitting him against the sitting vice president in headline after headline. You can ignore the mayor of a small Indiana city. You can’t ignore a candidate who’s on offense against our very religious VP on the subject of faith and homosexuality.

Approach it from Buttigieg’s perspective before the start of the race: What’s your “niche,” exactly? Right, right, you’re the “gay candidate,” but (a) there’s diversity of all kinds in the Democratic field and (b) being gay is still a liability in a general election, particularly against a reactionary president whose alpha-male image may have given him a decisive advantage in 2016. (Buttigieg would argue that he’s a veteran, unlike Trump, and therefore he’s the true alpha male in the race but plenty of voters would resist that conclusion.) So if being gay isn’t your “niche,” what’s your niche? Well … you could be the religious candidate. Contrary to popular stereotype, there are plenty of religious lefty voters and they are *extremely* underserved by a party that’s trending ever more strongly towards secularization. That “lane” is wide open. Jump into it, pick a showy fight with the religious conservative most despised by the left, and wait for people to notice. On a visceral level, even non-religious Democrats will enjoy the spectacle of Mike Pence and the right being asked to play defense about their Christian beliefs in a national election:

Trump’s anti-immigrant stances are evident in more than just his policies, according to Buttigieg, who said it also comes down to the president’s conduct.

“Foot washing is one of the central images in the New Testament, and we see the diametric opposite of that in this presidency,” he said, adding, “not chest-thumping look-at-me-ism, but humbling yourself before others.”…

“Even on the version of Christianity that you hear from the religious right, which is about sexual ethics, I can’t believe that somebody who was caught writing hush money checks to adult film actresses is somebody they should be lifting up as the kind of person you want to be leading this nation,” he said.

At the most basic level, Buttigieg’s decision to attack along religious lines shows unorthodoxy, which is useful for a candidate who needs to somehow turn his youth and inexperience into assets. If he can get voters to believe that he’s thoughtful and that it’s because he hasn’t (yet) been spoiled by age and political corruption that he attains that thoughtfulness, he has a shot.

Since you’re wondering by now how far his faith extends, the answer is no, of course it doesn’t extend as far as to prevent him from being a fanatic about abortion. Strangely, the “creator” doesn’t seem to factor into that calculation for Buttigieg. Late-term abortion is a pure matter of women’s freedom, with women being insufficiently free if their reproductive choices are “being dictated by male politicians in Washington,” as hacky and thoughtless an answer that a leftist could conceivably barf up on this subject. Bright side, though: At least he didn’t try to justify abortion on religious grounds. If we’re destined to have a left-wing version of “Jesus would surely agree with all of our policy preferences,” let’s at least make an exception for that one.