Photo of Pete Buttigieg

Remarks at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Forum in Cedar Rapids

June 09, 2019

Hello. Hello, Iowa Democrats.

Thank you to the Iowa Democratic Party and thank you to the honorees being acknowledged today for demonstrating that Democratic politics and progressive values are alive and well in the American Heartland.

My name is Pete Buttigieg, they mostly just call me Mayor Pete back home. I'm here to tell you who I am, what I believe and why we're doing this.

We're doing this because our values are on the line, and this season in the life of America's political development is one to end the idea that American values are property of conservatives and Republicans.

Starting with freedom.

Freedom is not a conservative value; it is an American value. And while our Republican friends like to talk about freedom, like it's theirs alone, we know that freedom includes economic freedom, and you're not free if you don't have a living wage in this country.

The GOP has sacrificed its ability to claim to be the party of freedom, especially when we see an attack on women's reproductive freedom that all of us, especially men, ought to be standing up to defend.

And yes here in Iowa, where you turned heads around the nation 10 years ago, we know that you're not free if some county clerk gets to tell you who you ought to marry based on their idea of their religion.

We know that freedom comes by way of organizing. That's why we stand shoulder to shoulder with labor.

And we know that freedom comes by way of education, which is why on day one, the new president needs to appoint a secretary of education who actually believes in public education.

Freedom doesn't belong to the Republican Party, and neither does patriotism.

When I got on that gray tail C-17 that took me into Afghanistan on the orders of an American president, the flag on my shoulder was not a Republican flag, it was an American flag, representing the belonging of all of us in the republic for which it stands.

So don't let anybody tell you that they own national security. Now when their vision of security goes no further than putting up a wall from sea to shining sea. Because that's not going to help with cyber security. That's not going to help with election security. That's not going to help us name and confront the violent white nationalism that presents a clear and present threat to our country.

Now I don't have to tell Cedar Rapids that the time has come to treat climate disruption as a security issue that it is. Which is why we should not only rejoin the Paris accords, we ought to have a Pittsburgh summit to bring together American cities and communities to do something about the issue with federal support.

Freedom is not a conservative value, patriotism is not a conservative only value, and God does not belong to any political party, least of all the one that produced this current president.

Now we've got a lot of work to do to vindicate our values, to establish a true democracy where money can't outvote people and politicians can't choose their voters by drawing districts the way they like; a democracy where all US citizens, including those of DC and Puerto Rico, enjoy proper political representation in our capital. And maybe even in this greatest democracy in the world, we might go about choosing our president by giving it to the person who got the most votes.

Now I think we're all more or less of one accord on our values, so the biggest question is, how are we going to win. And we're not going to win by playing it safe, or promising a return to normal. We are where we are because normal broke. And we Democrats can no more promise to return to the 90s than Republicans can deliver on a promise to return us to the 50s.

The only thing we can do is to look at that show that this President's created, whatever you want to call it: reality show, horror show, game show, and we're going to change the channel to something completely different. Help me change the channel. Help us win the era. Help us bring about a new era in the [music starts] life of this country. And we will be glad that it started right here in Iowa. Thank you, and I'll see you on the trail. Thank you.

Pete Buttigieg, Remarks at the Iowa Democratic Party Hall of Fame Forum in Cedar Rapids Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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