Buttigieg Scolds 'Sanctimonious' 'Virtue Signaling' Chick-Fil-A Protesters

March 28, 2019

South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg—the first openly gay candidate to run for a major party's presidential nomination—continues to delve into the political controversy surrounding Chick-fil-A, a beloved chicken restaurant.

"I do not approve of their politics," Buttigieg said of Chick-fil-A earlier this week during an appearance on "The Breakfast Club" radio show, "but I kind of approve of their chicken."

The restaurant has been the a source of political anxiety for years due to the socially conservative views of its president, Dan Cathy, a vocal opponent of gay marriage. The Chick-fil-A Foundation has also made charitable donations to religious organization many liberals find problematic.

Buttigieg expanded on his earlier remarks during an interview with BuzzFeed News on Wednesday, offering a critique of liberal efforts to boycott Chick-fil-A over the political views of its leadership. While he sympathized with the views of Chick-fil-A opponents, Buttigieg expressed concern that such efforts could devolve into "sanctimonious" "virtue signaling" that betrays a lack of consistency.

"If you’re turned off, as I am, by the political behavior of Chick-fil-A or their executives—if that leaves a bad taste in your mouth, so to speak, and you decide not to shop there, I’d certainly get it and I’d support that," Buttigieg said. "But the reality is, we, I think, sometimes slip into a sort of virtue signaling in some cases where we’re not really being consistent. I mean, what about all the other places we get our chicken from?"

Buttigieg cautioned liberals not to "overrate ourselves in terms of our ability to be pure in this regard" when it comes to protesting and boycotting politically problematic corporations.

"I just want to make sure that we’re not too sanctimonious about this, because sometimes we put ourselves in this position of judgment that doesn’t really hold up under scrutiny," he said. "My belief is that we should primarily deal with political issues in the political arena."

Buttigieg is currently enjoying a "boomlet" of sorts in the Democratic presidential race. Pundits are swooning, the media coverage is ramping up, and Democratic voters appear to be catching on. A recent national poll found Buttigieg winning 4 percent of Democratic and Democratic leaning registered voters, a new high for the South Bend mayor, tying him with Elizabeth Warren for fifth place, several points ahead of rival candidates Cory Booker and Amy Klobuchar.