Shuran Huang / NPR
The Mayor of Pete Buttigieg, South Bend, Indiana, recently took a major boost to his campaign by announcing a staggering $ 24.8 million in funding over the past three months.
But that has not changed one of the most difficult realities facing his candidacy: support among black voters who scarcely fits into the polls.
Against skeptics who doubt that he can win crucial African-American voters at the 2020 Democratic primary, Buttigieg presented details of his plan to fight systemic racial inequality, named in tribute to the legendary abolitionist Frederick Douglass, on NPR Morning edition.
"If you're a white candidate, it's twice as important for you to talk about racial inequality and not just describe the problem – which is fashionable in politics – but to talk about what we're going to do about it and describe the results that we are trying to solve, "Buttigieg told NPR.
The "Douglass Plan" aims to create a $ 10 billion fund for black entrepreneurs over five years, to invest $ 25 billion in historically black colleges, to legalize marijuana and to cancel drug convictions, to reduce half the prison population and to adopt a new law on the right to vote. empower the federal government to guarantee access to the vote.
His campaign says his scale is equivalent to that of the Marshall Plan, which used the equivalent of about $ 100 billion in current value to rebuild Europe after World War II. Buttigieg said the program would be put in place alongside possible direct repairs to slavery, and not in its place.
The two-term mayor also supports a constitutional amendment to abolish the death penalty, and intends to expand the supreme court and eradicate the electoral college.
Buttigieg links these noble goals, such as the change of the Constitution, to the central theme of generational change in his campaign.
"I do not know where we got the idea that it's impossible to do these things," he said. "It's a country that changed the constitution, so you could not buy a drink, then you changed your mind, and you're telling me that we're unable to use any of the features. the most elegant of our constitutional system? "
Highlights of the interview
On his Douglass plan:[The Marshall Plan] demonstrates what America can do when we are serious. America has fundamentally rebuilt Europe after the Second World War, and what we need to do now is a similar investment of ambition here, because we have learned that racist policies replaced by neutral policies are not enough. not, that the inequities we have in our country have been intentionally implemented by generations and sometimes by centuries of racist politics. They will not disappear simply because you are replacing a racist system with a neutral system.
We must intentionally invest in health, homeownership, entrepreneurship, access to democracy, economic empowerment. If we do not do this, we should not be surprised that racial inequality persists because inequalities combine. Just like a dollar saved, a stolen dollar is also composed. And I think that helps to explain the persistent racial inequality we have in our national life today.
On the repairs:
I think [the Douglass Plan] do not take the place of conversation around repairs. I am also in favor of signing the text, 40 I would sign it, which would create a commission to review the repairs. But I think this is also repairing, just like repairs. This is not a gift. This is a restoration. It attempts to address the generational damage and specific intentional thefts that occurred.
On the death penalty:
The death penalty is one of many examples of racial discrimination. You can see it by the simple fact that a person convicted of the same crime is more likely to be sentenced to death if he or she is black. Not to mention the very horrible story of how judicial and extrajudicial killings have been used to impose white supremacy throughout American history.
It is time to put an end to this, it is time to join the ranks of the countries that put the ugliness of capital punishment behind them. And while I'm happy to see the states go through that, and I think the federal government can and should do that as well, at the end of the day it's the kind of thing that should be in our Constitution.
On his inability to diversify the South Bend Police Force
We have taken steps from partnerships with local high schools to job fairs in communities, even engaging behavioral researchers to help us determine which recruiting messages will attract the most candidates. communities of color.
But at a time when the police profession as a whole is, I think, struggling with an identity crisis and that people are reluctant to want to participate, not to mention the fact that fewer and fewer people of color , certainly black teenagers, are turning to the forces of order. and think it's a career for me, there are colossal hurdles, not just in South Bend. But I accept responsibility for the fact that we have a long way to go in our city.
Engage white Americans in the conversation about racism
I think we will know that we come to something when it is not considered a matter of specialty of which the colored candidates speak or of which we speak only when we address the colored voters. Frankly, it's a conversation that the white America must have too, because the white America has to face the roots of these inequities and the fact of the systemic racism around us. It is the air we breathe.
I had a tough conversation with our own police department where, when I talked about systemic racism when I was talking to agents, many of them felt that 39, it was a personal attack. I need them to understand, especially white officers, how, whatever their intentions, systemic racism is something they need to be aware of and need to be aware of. understand how to be part of the solution. So it's not something that only color candidates should talk about, quite the opposite.
To win religious conservative voters
I think a lot of thoughtful and compassionate religious might think of themselves as Conservatives, but they are looking at what's going on right now and are asking very deep and profound questions about the areas in which their values and principles lead. What I found with regard to what turned the tide, like the equality of LGBTQ people, is the idea of compassion, the idea of empathy.
My personal experience is that I felt closer to God as part of my marriage. But it's only my own story. The biggest story is that we are better human beings when we consider each other in the light of how we would like to be treated in the way that, once again, secular and religious traditions teach us to do. And I think that from this perspective, a lot of people who might be disoriented by the pace of change in LGBTQ equality can find their way to the bright side of history.
NPR's Eric McDaniel and Kevin Tidmarsh edited and produced this interview for broadcast.