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.
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.