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The politics of a shiny new penny losing its luster

Practical Politics

David L. Horne, Ph.D ow contribuor | 6/13/2019, midnight

Speculating about future political outcomes is like playing the lottery-----sometimes it all comes out right, although not for the reasons you predicted, and most times you just lose your money and the outcomes defy whatever logic or crystal ball you used to make your forecast.

Nobody really knows yet whether Joe Biden will ride some favorable tail winds into being voted the Democratic Party’s national champion, or whether some other less known candidate of the moment will squeak out the eventual nomination.

As a bright new light on the horizon, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s effort right now looks enticing enough for the long haul. He’s Harvard educated, smart and cool-headed, with sensible and understandable answers to often difficult questions put to him by reporters and audience members alike. He is also, at 37 years old, the only millennial candidate, he is fluent in more than one language, and he’s a battle-tested veteran of one of this country’s never-ending wars. This latter information nixes the popular idea that members of the gay community are cowards or “sissies,” and it is an instant opposite of our current draft-dodging POTUS who swaggers with fake bravado, as most bullies do.

The mayor is also a “super-hero” to an as-yet-uncounted community of gay activists and sympathizers in this country. While he is not the first openly gay presidential candidate, he is the first one with this kind of national standing and opportunity.

Overall, Mayor Pete is shining. He’s looking good. What he does not yet have, and probably will not achieve for this election cycle, is enough Black political support for his candidacy to make it to the finish line. He will most likely do very well in either or both Iowa and New Hampshire, but dismally in South Carolina and other southern states.

Why, one would ask? He’s not popular in his own city---South Bend, Ind.--with his Black constituents, and the word has spread. One of the issues Black Americans feel most fervently about is police brutality and violence against Black citizens. During the first year and-a-half of his beginning mayoral term in 2015, Mayor Pete forced the resignation of the only African-American police chief South Bend had ever had, Chief Darryl Boykins. The issue was over wire-tapping.

Apparently, the director of police communications in the department had inadvertently overheard several phone conversations between some senior police officers that involved racially disparaging remarks aimed at the police chief. After informing the chief of the conversations, the discussions were taped.

The officers were scolded by the chief, they then reported to federal officials that their conversations were being illegally taped according to both state and federal law, and federal officials called the mayor and informed him that an investigation into the chief’s activities was being launched. Mayor Pete then demanded that the chief resign his post.

The chief complied, but a few days later, rescinded his resignation. Mayor Pete refused to accept the un-resignation, and instead said he would bring the chief back to the department as a demoted captain, rather than as chief. He then hired a White officer to replace Chief Boykins.