An exchange between Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg and George Stephanopoulos (reported in a recent Huffington Post article) brings into clear relief an issue that America has long needed for Democrats to confront.
In that exchange, Buttigieg displayed the kind of clear-eyed moral understanding, and boldness of truth-telling, that has been all too rare among Democrats during this era as the Republicans have sunk into darkness.
Here’s how HuffPost recounts the story:
In a USA Today interview published Wednesday, Buttigieg said it is hard for him to look at the actions of Trump, a professed Presbyterian, and “believe that they’re the actions of somebody who believes in God.”
“I just don’t understand how you can be as worshipful of your own self as he is and be prepared to humble yourself before God,” Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, said in the interview. “I’ve never seen him humble himself before anyone.”
Buttigieg also has questioned how Pence, who calls himself an “evangelical Catholic,” allowed himself to become a “cheerleader of the porn-star presidency.”
“Is it that he stopped believing in scripture when he started believing in Trump?” Buttigieg said at a CNN town hall in March.
On ABC’s “Good Morning America” Thursday, host George Stephanopoulos pushed back on the criticism Buttigieg has been doling out, asking if it aligns with Buttigieg’s calls for “decency” in politics.
In response, Buttigieg explained that he believes it’s important to “call out hypocrisy when we see it.” (Emphasis added.)
“When you have somebody seeming to want to impose his religion on others, as the vice president has, and at the same time teaming up with a presidency that seems to have no regard for at least what I would consider to be Christian values, I do think that hypocrisy needs to be called out.”’
It has been an ingrained part of liberal culture for a long time that being “nice,” seeking “comity,” “reaching across the aisle” — or, in the word Stephanopoulos employs, upholding “decency” — is the path of virtue. Always.
I know from experience — starting in 2005 — that one who talks about fighting back by calling out the wrong-doing will hear complaints about “sinking to the level” of the wrong-doers. My response has always been that this is a misplaced concern, a failure to see the crucial difference: those who fight with the moral truth are not fighting at the same level as those who fight with immoral lies.
I’ve observed how there are a number of liberals who are uncomfortable with a Democratic political candidate who calls out the ways their Republican opponent is betraying their supporters and damaging the nation with their lies. “Be positive,” goes the cry– as if the quest to have honest politics displace the politics of deception and hypocrisy were not in itself a positive — as well as fundamental — program.”
In the exchange above, George Stephanopoulos interjects that liberal insistence on being nice, even in the face of the darkness and destructiveness and dishonesty on the other side. Hey, he says, what about the “decency” you said you believe in?
Buttigieg’s response is exactly right, declaring that it’s important to “call out hypocrisy when we see it.”
The underlying point — call out the evil — is of such fundamental importance that I would make this assertion that, bold though it is, I make it with confidence:
There is no shortage of things to call out. (Democrats should be raising the hue and cry, for example, about how the Republicans in the states are trying to overturn the results of elections when their opponents win– like in NC, WI, MI, and CO.)
I am taking note of Buttigieg taking the path of boldness, and of telling America the big moral truths about what’s on display on the political right these days.
Had Democrats been making the strong choice that Buttigieg has made, and defended, for the past quarter century, we would not be in the crisis we’re in now:
- The Republican Party would never have become at once so powerful and so corrupt; and
- We would never had such an abomination serving as President as we have now.
Calling out the Republicans is an important part of an overall strategy to persuade Americans to take power away from a party that consistently damages the nation (which of course means handing it over to the only alternative there is in America’s political realm: the Democratic Party).
I’d like to hear Democratic candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination for the presidency competing with each other over who can most effectively move the American people to reject a Republican Party that’s become more corrupt, less honest, more indifferent to the common good than any American Party in memory.