3. Overthink it a little bit: Young people hate him because he’s a traitor to his generation.
Generational identity is arguably the most important dividing line in the Democratic Party—more than class, race, or education. As I’ve written, the young left has become a kind of third party awkwardly domiciled within the Democratic Party. Buttigieg, however, is a traitor to his generation; he is a 30something Millennial who appeals mostly to middle-aged and older white voters.
In this way, his candidacy violates a certain unwritten law of U.S. electoral politics. American voters have historically appreciated candidates who, from a socioeconomic perspective, identify “down”: Franklin D. Roosevelt was a traitor to the upper class; Trump is the real-estate billionaire who speaks for coal miners; Bernie Sanders is the septuagenarian senator who rallies the young left. But there’s not a deep history of successful candidates who appeared to identify “up,” like a young, non-millionaire, small-town mayor who aligns himself with cosmopolitan capital. Identifying down can be a proxy for authenticity, but identifying up invites accusations of inauthenticity. By rejecting young progressive activism, Buttigieg betrays his generational-class identity.