Last spring, inspired by his laser focus on climate change, I supported Governor Jay Inslee for president. So did his mother; that was about it. When Inslee dropped out, my allegiance switched to Senator Cory Booker, who made an excellent showing at CNN's climate town hall. Alas the senator has not found traction with many voters -- his polling tires, you might say, are as bald as his head -- and I've grown tired of his endless texts and emails to join some contest to have dinner with him and his girlfriend, actress Rosario Dawson. After a while, it got a little creepy. Breaking up, it turns out, wasn't that hard to do, and off I sallied yesterday in search of a new candidate who is both committed to addressing climate change and who can defeat, soundly, our current president.
It was clear sailing north on I-93 from Boston, but not for the poor souls stuck in southbound commuting traffic, a car clog stretching to the New Hampshire border. Along the way I learned from NPR that the House of Representatives would vote to authorize impeachment proceedings of Donald Trump. There's a new children's book about fry bread and Native Americans. The Celtics beat the Bucks at the Garden! And the Chinese are beating us to 5G phone technology, which basically means it's time to download Chairman Xi's digital Little Red Book.
Soon I pulled off at the Derry, NH exit and parked behind Mary Ann's diner, where I ordered the #2: two eggs over easy, two fat slices of french toast, and too much home fries, beans and toast, all for $6.99. Fifties music played and the table was plastered with ads for local businesses. "Score Big -- Get Cash for Scrap Metal!" promised one. The eagle emblem for Wayne's Tattoo World contained an acronym that either refers to a computer process, File Transfer Protocol, or to a lack of faith in local law enforcement.
Not here, not on this day. The Mayor of South Bend, Indiana seemed relaxed on stage. Warm, personable, and almost dynamic. Not magical, certainly but I guess I've grown cynical over the years. I could be the grandfather of that idealist campaign worker. Good G-d, I could be Mayor Pete's dad! It was especially heartening that Buttigieg introduced climate change just three minutes into his stump speech, and then again several minutes later, calling the issue "the global security threat of our time." I also liked the way he didn't shy from speaking about freedom and patriotism, words that Republicans have "captured and caged." Patriotism, for Mayor Pete, is a shared national value. "But you can't love your country," he stated, "if you hate half the people in it."
He didn't make a big deal about being a veteran who served in Afghanistan. He didn't make a big deal about being gay and married to a schoolteacher named Chasten. He didn't even mention his adorable rescue dogs, Buddy and Truman. He was articulate, thoughtful and a bit corny. None of the questions from the audience were about climate change, but he still managed to weave the issue into a response about partisanship. Our fast-changing climate, he reminded us, is a fact that should not be believed based on party politics. For his full climate plan, here's the relevant page on his website.
Then I hustled back to the car, drove home, and sent Mayor Pete fifty bucks. We have a new horse for the next leg of our desert journey.