Pete Buttigieg is the Brené Brown of Politics

He’s living out Brené Brown’s principles on the national stage.

“Have you heard of Brené Brown” is not what I expected to come from my lips when I had the tremendous opportunity to meet Mayor Pete in person.

Let me back up a little, to help you understand how unlikely and how timely it was for me to be able to meet Mayor Pete. I started this website in April with the goal of sharing people’s stories on why they support Mayor Pete because I know the power of storytelling, thanks in large part to Brené Brown.

When I listened to Shortest Way Home, I felt like I was listening to Brené star student. His conversational tone made you feel like you were sitting across the table from him sipping your favorite coffee. His vulnerability and authenticity left you feeling like he was an old friend.

Walk back a little further with me, then I promise to bring it all home.

Two years ago, life as I knew it blew up in my face, and without the support of an amazing friend and her continued evangelizing of Brené Brown, I don’t know where I would be. Probably not here, that I can say for sure.

Brené Brown, my husband and my therapist helped me get on a path toward wholehearted living. I’m not there yet, because I think it’s a lifelong journey, but I’ve come a long way in the last two years. In a nutshell, I went from an insecure wallflower who wanted everyone, anyone to like her to an unashamed human who, on most days, loves and accepts herself. Dr. Brown’s books, Rising Strong, Daring Greatly and Braving the Wilderness changed my life. I know that’s not the order she published them, but that’s the order I read them, and they were each exactly what I needed, exactly when I needed them.

I have made tremendous strides but things are far from perfect. I published a book, but I have a hard time being brave enough to promote it. I discovered something minor that I’m proud of, but I’m still afraid to share the details with the world. And though we have a lot to be grateful for, this summer has been particularly difficult on my family. We are dealing with the common struggles of living paycheck to paycheck: anxiety, sleep deprivation, economic insecurity (which is a real thing and not necessarily synonymous with racism). Right now, we are pretty much, as Bernie Sanders likes to say, “One paycheck away from poverty.” I like Bernie, y’all. I was all in for him in 2016. I love his “damn the man, save the empire” attitude, but this year calls for something different. Sanders would’ve been a great successor to Obama, and so would Hillary Clinton, but we need the antithesis of Trump in 2020, and you couldn’t get more different than Trump than Mayor Pete. Like Trevor Noah said, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he has the world’s largest hands.

When I found out Mayor Pete was going to be speaking at Essence Festival, I knew I had to be there. Logistically, it was going to be difficult, but what an opportunity. I missed my chance to see the future president back in 2008 when Obama spoke at Tulane. I wasn’t as involved in politics as I am now (becoming a mom later that year changed me). Still, I thought it would have been really cool to say, “I saw the president speak” if he were to clinch the nomination and defeat the Republican challenger. You all know how that turned out. So, here I am, over a decade later, much more politically active (though still woefully behind where I’d like to be) finding out that my top choice in the primaries is coming to my city so early on the campaign trail.

Then, I found a flyer for a fundraiser which was to be held immediately following Essence and thought, “Oh my gosh, I can do more than see him, I can meet him!” My bubble burst as soon as I saw the ticket prices. I know candidates have to raise money, and I respect that, but I was sad. I was thankful to see him at Essence, but like I said, it’s been a hard summer, and I knew meeting someone I admire would be a break in the clouds.

I lamented to some friends who understood my plight, which graciously led to me getting a ticket to the event. I couldn’t believe it. I was going to meet Mayor Pete. Or so I thought. I really didn’t know what to expect because I’m not the type of person to attend political fundraisers. I hoped I would meet him and not make a fool of myself. Spoiler alert: I did and I did.

At the event, I was among his supporters, and our mutual admiration for him, and the hope he inspires in us, connected us across age, sex, gender, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, religion and political affiliation. We were a mostly white group, which I think is important to acknowledge, even though I don’t think it’s a reason to write him off before hearing his message. That’s another topic for another day though.

Mayor Pete brings out authentic people because authentic people can sense authenticity. He has said, “The more you know about exclusion, the more you think about belonging,” and “We have a crisis of belonging in this country.” Brené Brown’s work is based around vulnerability, authenticity and belonging.

So, here I am, having been given this awesome opportunity to shake his hand and get a picture with him and I lose my chill. (by the way, huge shoutout to his team member who graciously and effectively kept things moving, like a boss. I’m sorry I can’t remember your name) Instead of telling him how much he inspires me, instead of telling him that I think he’s the best person for the job, instead of telling him what amazing supporters he has, I said, “Have you heard of Brené Brown?” ::facepalm::

I had been casually wondering if he was familiar with her work, since he’s basically her work, personified, and I guess since I was, I don’t know, kind of starstruck, and I blurted out what had been on my mind these last few months.

Naturally, he was taken aback so I had to repeat my ridiculous question, even though I wanted to pull the words back into my mouth and start over. He was so gracious. Just like I would hope to be if someone ever asks me an off the wall question. He said yes, and I believe he knows who she is, but I’m not sure if he knows he is the quintessential character in Daring Greatly.

Intentional or by happenstance, he is living out Brené Brown’s principles on the national stage. I believe he can beat Trump and begin to stitch our divided country back together, but no matter how this all plays out, I am grateful for his voice in the larger conversation.

“Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, and creativity. It is the source of hope, empathy, accountability, and authenticity.” – Brené Brown

How was it to meet Pete Buttigieg in person?

How was it to meet Mayor Pete? Did meeting him change my opinion of him? I had to write down my thoughts on Pete Buttigieg after seeing him in New Orleans the weekend of Essence Festival.

I want to write down my thoughts about my experience meeting Pete Buttigieg before they get too far from my head, yet while I’m not so overcome with emotion that I can’t find the words. Thanks to the support and generosity of #TeamPete, specifically one person whom I thank so much I fear it’s getting annoying, I was able to attend a political fundraiser for Mayor Pete this weekend in New Orleans.

I need you guys to understand, I am not a person who attends political fundraisers. The tickets range from $2000 down to $250. This is basically him trying to earn the money to be in the debates, and run his campaign. On one hand, I really hate it because money was my only barrier. It’s not for lack of enthusiasm. Even though I work hard in an educated, I cannot afford to spend $250 on two hours. That amount of money is school supplies for my kids, our car insurance payments, or groceries for a couple weeks (at most). I don’t have $250 to spend even on a campaign I believe in with all my heart. My donations have been between three and five dollars, except the time I bought my family Boot Edge Edge merchandise and spent $75 in one sitting. And if I’m being honest, that wasn’t the wisest thing for me to do, but at least we got some shirts out of our contributions.

When I arrived at the fundraiser, I had to stop traffic so I can parallel park, and usually when I do that, which is very often living in this city, people get angry at me as if me parking is a direct affront to them. As if I’m trying to prevent them from getting where they are going. But the couple in the car behind me waved me on and smiled politely when they passed. My first thought was, “I bet they are Mayor Pete supporters because mayor Pete supporters are the best people on the planet.” I went to this event completely out of my league as far as financial means go. If you have $2000 to give to a presidential campaign, even if that means you get to meet him and get a picture with him, you’re out of my league. Like I don’t even know what it looks like to have that kind of money to spend on an afternoon. And yet, I belonged there. I belonged because Mayor Pete brings a sense of belonging that transcends age, race, class, sexual orientation; what unifies us is our desire to belong, our desire to be ourselves and to be accepted for who we are. And as I wandered the room, I felt comfortable, as if I belonged with those who were different than me in almost every way. I made so many new friends, acquaintances and connections simply because of our shared support for Mayor Pete.

Pete Buttigieg New Orleans
Seriously most of us did not know each other before the event.

Remember, this is just the first part of the fundraiser. He hasn’t even shown up yet. When he did though, the joy in that room was palpable. People feel hopeful when they see him because we think he can heal our nation are deeply broken nation. I have Democrats attacking me, a bleeding heart liberal because I don’t support their candidate.

Mayor Pete’s vision for our country aligns with mine- a country, and a political party, that is united not divided. We are all different, yes. And some of us know far more suffering than others simply because of the gender we were given, our sexual orientation, the color of our skin, or the number in our (or our parent’s) bank account. But we almost all know suffering of some kind. Most of us have been “othered” in one way or another, and he wants to bring all of us “others” together, to allow our differences to unite us instead of divide us. I don’t see this talk, at least not so clearly, from any other candidate, and I admire and respect most of the people running. I know all of their voices are important to this moment, but we can only have one leader, and I believe in my heart of hearts that Mayor Pete is the leader we need. Seeing the way he answered questions and connected with the audience at the fundraiser was a game changer for me. And we haven’t even gotten into his message yet. Stay tuned.


KC’s Why

He is a massive feminist. That is very important as this could truly equalize woman’s rights once and for all.

I think Mayor Pete is the best candidate for president. Why?

1.He is openly gay, even though he grew-up in a time were this was unaccepted. He loved who he loved and didn’t care what the media would say about it.

2. He was a veteran. He was willing to risk his life for our country. So how does that not say “Great leader for our country”?

3. He doesn’t shame Republicans, or those who use to and still do support Donald Trump.

4. He is a massive feminist. That is very important as this could truly equalize woman’s rights once and for all.

5. I guess he just gives me hope, for the country, for the government, for everyone.

I may be 10 years old, but I truly believe he is the right candidate. And trust me, if I were 8yrs older, he would have my vote. And one last thing, I don’t understand how some people try to shame him for being gay or too young or any other “dirt” they called him on, because I can’t see one good reason, one reason at all, why Pete Boot-edge-edge isn’t PERFECT for President of the USA.

About KC

KC is a 10-year-old girl who has been politically engaged as long as she can remember. She was looking forward to seeing the first female president last election and cried when Hillary Clinton lost. She lives a life of kindness, compassion and creativity.

Patrick’s Why

I remember lying in bed crying myself to sleep, begging God to change me and not let me be gay. I just wanted to be normal.

So much I can say would be true, but not get to the heart of it. Yes, he is smart, he has a record of competent leadership, he shares my values. But the same can be said of other candidates. Why him? So much of it boils down to the fact that he is wholesome. He is not a creature of political Washington who has been positioning himself to run for the past 10 or 20 years. As he has said, he looked at the office, and the needs of the moment, compared that to what he can bring and found a match. I see the same match.

I could pretend that his being a gay man has no role in my support of him. To the extent that is true. If I didn’t think he would be capable of rising to the occasion, I wouldn’t consider him. But given that I do believe in his ability, I can turn my head to what it would mean in my life to have an out, gay, married President. I’m 42 years old. I was raised in conservative rural East Texas, where I still live today with my husband. I remember growing up as an awkward little gay boy. I remember the exact moment I realized I was gay and put that label on myself. I was 9 years old. I was so scared. I felt alone. I thought being gay was a horrible secret that I had to keep hidden, and believes with every fiber in my being that I would be cursed to die sad and alone. I remember lying in bed crying myself to sleep, begging God to change me and not let me be gay. I just wanted to be normal. Over the years I grew to accept it and moved on, but those scars from childhood remained unhealed for decades.

I know today that things have changed. But in the back of my mind I imagine another 9 year old boy realizing that he is gay. I imagine him watching the news with his parents and hearing stories about this gay candidate rising in the polls. I imagine him on election night seeing this man making a victory speech and watching as the newly elected President proudly gives his husband a celebratory kiss. I imagine him watching the inauguration, where the new President is sworn in with his hand on a bible held by his loving husband. In that moment, this young boy looks at the television and thinks, “I’m like him. I’m not alone.” This boy will know that he can do anything he wants in life. He can grow up, go to college, fall in love, and get married. And if he wants, he can run for President.

I also think a lot about the parents of a young gay teenager who has just come out to them. So many parents in this situation face a lot of conflict and pain. Of course they love their child unconditionally. But will he be happy? Will he find love? Will he be cast out by society? Pete’s story, and his success, is a comfort to these parents as much as it is to their child. Of course your child can find love and be accepted by the world.

This is the world I want to make in my future.

About Patrick

I am a 42 year old gay man, living with my husband and our 3 dogs in the Piney Woods of East Texas. Not much else interesting or of note about me. I’m kind of boring these days and that is the way I like it.

You can follow Patrick on Twitter at @astrangerland

MJ’s Why

Hi. I’m M.J., the owner and author of this site. I’ve been blogging in one way or another for over 10 years. In that time, I’ve told and read thousands of stories to strangers online. I’ve made connections with, and learned from, people, specifically women, and more specifically, moms from all over the country and all walks of life. I’ve met women across all racial, political, economical, educational, generational spectrums, including my favorite group, hot mess express moms. Often, the women I met fell into multiple, sometimes seemingly contradictory categories. Each woman, each person, has a story. An underlying motive that drives them to their beliefs. Most of them are valid, though some are rooted in fear and/or ignorance, but almost everyone is fueled politically by a desire to achieve belonging and satisfaction in this life. I know I am. I’m also a hot mess express.

I want to tell you my why. Why, after spending most of my life, politically apathetic, only bothering to engage in politics after the 2016 election, I am devoting time and energy to spread the gospel of Pete Buttigieg.

The last two years, the highest office in the land has been filled with hateful rhetoric, fearmongering, fake news, bullying and disgrace. And this is all I’ve ever known of politics.

I lived in a bubble of privilege without knowing it. I knew I had white-privilege, but I didn’t know my privilege as a straight, white Christian woman protected me from so many policies hurt fellow Americans, fellow humans. I am ashamed for not realizing it sooner, but I cannot go back. I can only move forward and do my part now. I wish I had used my words more in 2015, to speak truth to the lies being spread by the GOP candidates, Fox News and conservatives on Facebook. I wish I had realized sooner that my silence was complicity. In the words of Maya Angelou, “When you know better, do better.”

I know better now, and I’m doing better.

For the first time in my life, I have hope for the future of the United States. For the first time in years, I can imagine a better tomorrow. I have faith that this country will be better for my children than it has been for me. I imagine a post-school shooting America. One where it won’t matter who has guns because no one will be prone to murder. (I’m not saying I don’t want gun laws, obviously. (I know many of you are thinking I don’t need that disclaimer, trust me, I’ve been on social media since it’s inception, I need that disclaimer)).

Pete Buttigieg transcends politics. He transcends all our groupings because he brings his whole self to the table. A Maltese-American, left-handed millennial, gay, Christian, war veteran, midwestern, mayor cannot be put into a group, yet, he belongs to ever group. To quote Brene Brown who quoted and pays homage to Maya Angelou in her book, Braving the Wilderness, “You only are free when you realize you belong no place — you belong every place — no place at all.” Brown goes onto describe her journey from hating that quote, to living by it. She tells her story, which brings us back here.

Storytelling is one of the most vulnerable and powerful things we can do. Our stories have the power to change hearts and minds. Pete Buttigieg is telling us his story, allowing us to know what drives him, and it is clear that the betterment of society for the people of this country, all the people, is his motivation.

Being able to bring your full self to the table takes courage, acceptance, wisdom and humility. I’m here bringing my whole self, to this space, including my overuse of parentheticals, my unadulterated truth and my random humor. Pete brings his whole self to the table when he speaks. He is not speaking to gain votes, he is speaking from his heart.

Pete’s own story is my why. Telling yours is my mission.

Share your why by emailing me at or by filling out this form.