Better get out your intersectional scorecard. In her Slate piece entitled, “Is Pete Buttigieg Just Another White Male Candidate, or Does His Gayness Count as Diversity?” Christina Cauterucci is handicapping the 2020 democratic presidential field. For the voter playing at home, it can be a little difficult to rank the highly diverse field of candidates according to their identity-specific worldview. All of them generally fall on a scale that stretches from “run-of-the-mill white guy” at one end to “oppression olympics gold medalist” at the other. If you were tempted to place Pete Buttigieg, the openly gay Democratic Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, anywhere on the spectrum above run-of-the-mill white guy, think again. According to Cauterucci, “in a primary for the overwhelmingly pro-gay Democratic Party, Buttigieg can be more accurately lumped in with his white male peers than with anyone else.”
Got that, folks scoring at home. Mayor Pete gets no oppression points for being gay. Cauterucci explains why in her piece, and it essentially boils down to he’s not gay enough. His white maleness pretty much delineates all of his gayness. Cauterucci writes, “Buttigieg isn’t just gay–he’s also white, male, upper-class, Midwestern, married, Ivy League-educated, and a man of faith. These other elements of Buttigieg’s identity all contribute to the image voters are being asked to evaluate, and they’ve each shaped Buttigieg’s life just as much as–if not more than–his sexuality.”
So the problem with Mayor Pete, as Cauterucci makes abundantly clear, is that he allows all these other aspects of his character, which she associates with white maleness, intermingle with his gayness. If Mayor Pete just ran on his sexuality, then he could possibly break free of the run-of-the-mill white guy pack. Here’s a measure of how gay he needs to be according to Cauterucci: “Most people who are aware of his candidacy probably know he’s gay, but his every appearance doesn’t activate the ‘hey, that’s that homosexual gentleman’ response in the average brain.’”
What the hell? I hear Mayor Pete is quite an accomplished piano player as well. Does that mean he has to run around acting like Liberace or Little Richard to elicit the “‘hey, that’s that homosexual gentleman’” response? Not to mention that, “Hey, isn’t he that homosexual gentleman?” sounds a lot like something my long deceased grandfather might have said.
Well, I guess you’ve got to credit Cauterucci for her honesty. At least she’s coming out and saying she’s judging prospective presidential candidates first and foremost by their immutable, identity oriented characteristics. If I’m following correctly, she’s asserting that at all times Buttigieg must be out there putting his gay self front and center, and his failure to do so makes him just another straight white guy. In the world of three dimensional intersectional chess, content of your character be damned. Color of your skin, gender and sexuality are the criteria for which one is judged.
Thankfully, most Americans are more sensible than Cauterucci and her Slate colleagues. In a recent Quinnipiac University National Poll, Mayor Pete ranked in an improbable tie with Elizabeth Warren and only a few points behind Kamala Harris. Also in that poll, 84 percent of voters said race is not an important factor, including 75 percent among black voters. Additionally, 84 percent said gender is not an important factor, including 83 percent among women. One can only conclude that publications like Slate and writers like Cauterucci aren’t paying much attention to these polls, or they’re purposely writing for a small fringe minority as they aggressively push their identitarian agenda. Perhaps this disconnect with the political mainstream accounts for why so many online news outlets like Slate find themselves laying off journalists and struggling to attract readers.