Mayor Pete Rolls Out Hard-Left Platform

Proposals put Buttigieg to the left of Bernie Sanders in 2016

Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg / Getty Images
May 17, 2019

Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg announced his first slate of policy ideas Thursday, a series of leftwing proposals that show how far the Democratic field has shifted in just a few years.

Buttigieg was for a time seen as a potential front-runner for the Democratic nomination. But his poll numbers flagged following the entry of former Vice President Joe Biden, meaning that he may be following fellow candidates Beto O'Rourke and Kamala Harris in "rebooting" his campaign with a flashy new set of policy proposals.

In a new "Issues" section of his website, Buttigieg has outlined three broad categories of policy stances: "Freedom," "Security," and "Democracy."

By "freedom," Buttigieg appears to primarily mean more government spending. Stopping short of backing a universal single-payer system, Buttigieg instead supports "Medicare for All Who Want It," to convert Medicare into a public option. He also supports free or heavily subsidized college, like his competitor Sen. Elizabeth Warren.

At the same time, freedom entails expanding federal entitlements to protected minority groups. Front and center is a proposal to "create a commission to propose reparations policies for Black Americans." This idea puts Buttigieg to the left of even Sen. Bernie Sanders, who refused to back reparations in 2016 and has only recently come to support a bill to "study" the issue. Buttigieg's "freedom" proposals also include other far left plans like repealing the Hyde Amendment and passing the Equal Rights Amendment.

Buttigieg is a former Navy officer, but the first item on his security list is not enhancing America's military preparedness. Rather, it is passing a Green New Deal, a proposal expected to cost nine trillion dollars a year and have essentially no impact on global temperature. In addition, Buttigieg would also create a "nationwide gun licensing system," one of three candidates to propose federal tracking of gun owners.

Other proposals in the "security" section include legalizing marijuana, abolishing the death penalty, and raising the minimum wage to $15.

Lastly comes Buttigieg's suite of overhauls to American democracy. Front and center is abolishing the Electoral College, which handed President Donald Trump the White House in 2016. However, recognizing that the EC will not be abolished "overnight," Buttigieg also supports the National Popular Vote Interstate Compact to convert it into a de facto national vote. Additionally, Buttigieg is refloating his Supreme Court packing plan, which even left-leaning Slate acknowledged is unconstitutional.

It is unlikely that Buttigieg—currently in fifth place with less than six percent of the primary vote—will garner his party’s nomination. However, as a young, rising star, the South Bend mayor's proposals mark the direction of Democratic politics in the coming years. Many of these proposals would have been well outside the bounds for a serious presidential contender just four years ago; today, they are increasingly mainstream.