The Democrats have a tough decision make in 2020: Do they follow the ever-more-progressive path that their party is on in choosing a candidate to face President Trump, or do they neuter their ideology in order to nominate someone who could actually beat Trump, (if that person is even running at this point).
In the first camp are candidates like Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, both highly progressive Senators from Vermont and Massachusetts, respectively. These two represent the ideological future of the Democratic Party itself with their focus on wealth inequality and their dabbling in the ideas of socialism and universal health care.
In the center are former Vice President Joe Biden and South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg, both of whom are believed to possess the ability to snatch away some moderate midwestern votes from the incumbent Trump come the general election.
And make no mistake about it, these two centrist Democrats understand this explicitly, and are actively working to court these conservative voters they encounter in the wilds of the heartland.
In this pursuit, Mayor Pete just scored himself a rather poignant victory.
As Buttigieg entered the Prairie Winds Events Center in downtown Orange City, a crowd of around 200 instead roared in a standing ovation.
Regan Harms, a 22-year-old senior majoring in biblical studies at Northwestern College in Orange City, said she wasn’t at all surprised with the turnout. As she introduced Buttigieg, she described him as a neighbor and fellow midwesterner, one who understands life in rural America.
“Iowans long for someone who understands them,” Harms said. “The second you meet him, you get that impression that he almost knows you. Of course he can come into Orange City, and people will like him. There’s that common bond among midwesterners.”
Buttigieg’s sexuality has been seen by some as an obstacle to courting conservatives.
In nearby Sioux Center in September, the Sioux County Conservatives alleged a restaurant was “celebrating sin” by hosting Pride brunch on a Sunday.
When asked whether people in Orange City cared about whether Buttigieg was gay, Harms said she wouldn’t answer that question.
“It’s a divisive topic here in town, of course,” she said. “Obviously, some people care, but look at this crowd. Others don’t.”
Buttigieg maintains he’s the candidate who can blaze the trail. After he announced he was gay, he won a second term in South Bend with a greater share of the vote.
But will any of these small advances make a dent in the juggernaut that is the Trump reelection train? It is far too early to tell, and Buttigieg still has to get through centrist and shoe-in Joe Biden to find out.
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