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2020 Vision

Mayor Pete Buttigieg Campaigns in Provincetown

by Steve Desroches

All Photos by Rebecca M. Alvin

One thing is for certain; no matter what happens from here on out, Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s campaign has made history. For a gay man to be a serious contender for the Democratic nomination for the President of the United States is something that many assembled at Town Hall for the Buttigieg campaign rally never thought they’d see in their lifetime, a sentiment that was repeated over and over. The filled-to-capacity auditorium held a mix of locals and visitors, LGBT and straight, waving signs that read “Petetown” and similarly fashioned fans to keep cool on the steamy day after the Fourth of July as songs like David Bowie’s “Rebel Rebel” and Joan Jett’s cover of “Everyday People” played. While he is of course the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, it felt like a bit of a homecoming for Buttigieg and his husband Chasten. Coming to a town like Provincetown that is not only an important locale in America for LGBT activism and culture for over a century, but also a town that fights for the general right for everyone to be one’s true self, makes Buttigieg’s visit an important moment not just for the town, but for his campaign, as well.

Photo by Rebecca M. Alvin

While introducing his husband, Chasten Buttigieg thanked those activists that made this moment possible. And indeed here in Provincetown that room was full of people of all sexual orientations and gender identities that have made a difference. There were people who marched with Harvey Milk and volunteered for Elaine Noble, as well as for Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin, Oregon Governor Kate Brown, and Colorado Governor Jared Polis. Both men invoked the 50th anniversary of Stonewall as an expression of gratitude for the “men, women, transgender people, and especially transgender people of color” who laid the foundation for this moment of opportunity to create an America with equality for all.

“I feel like Provincetown models that sense of what America could be like,” answered Buttigieg when asked how America could be less divided and more inclusive like Provincetown. “I can’t tell you how welcoming everybody is.”

Photo by Rebecca M. Alvin

Buttigieg and his husband did receive an enormous Provincetown welcome, with banners and flags with “Petetown” peppered throughout town as well as a portrait by artist Jo Hay of the young mayor hung in the window of Adam Peck Gallery, which resulted in a surprise visit by the Buttigiegs after they finished breakfast at Liz’s Café. A walk down Commercial Street to Bubala’s By The Bay moved at a snail’s pace as the two took photos and shook hands. And a surprised crowd cheered and waved as the two spoke from the steps of Town Hall before the free event, to those who couldn’t get in because tickets were gobbled up within minutes of becoming available. Just as many said they couldn’t believe his success as a gay candidate was happening in their lifetimes, they also added that this is how you campaign in Provincetown, rather than just a take-the-money-and-run visit.

In a poignant and private moment Buttigieg met with the campers from Camp Lightbulb, the summer sleepaway camp in town for LGBTQ youth. Camp founder and director Puck Markham said that Buttigieg remarked that he wished there had been a Camp Lightbulb available for him when he was a teenager, a sentiment Markham says he hears frequently. Just before they took to the stage themselves for their annual variety show, the campers had a front row seat to history, watching a major presidential candidate speak to them directly. Most will not be old enough to vote come November 2020, and many are just forming a political awareness and consciousness themselves, but they realized the gravitas of the moment throughout their encounter.

Photo by Rebecca M. Alvin

“Not much,” said 15-year-old Theo Hamar when asked what they knew about Buttigieg prior to meeting him. “But my Dad said it was a very good idea to meet him.”

Young Hamar sat holding a rainbow “Petetown” sign with a huge smile, adding that Dad was right. And along with fellow campers, Hamar joined the assembly in cheering throughout Buttigieg’s sweeping 20-minute address to the crowd that covered everything from electoral reform, equality for women and strengthening a woman’s right to make her own reproductive health choices, to the price of college (adding his household has six-figure student loan debt), and his support for universal health care. And while he never mentioned Trump by name, he did make a sharp point that the President could absolutely be re-elected.

Buttigieg continued that while Trump cheated and received help from nefarious forces, one cannot only cheat their way to the presidency. There is something within our culture that got Trump that close in the first place. Citing “violent white nationalism” as a major security threat to the nation, Buttigieg spoke of how the president and members of the Republican Party stoked anger and fear by using racism, misogyny, and xenophobia as a rallying cry rather than offer real solutions to the problems facing our nation. While the Republican Party wants to go back to the 1950s, he noted his own party often seems as if they want to return to the 1990s, adding it was time for something completely different, eliciting one of the biggest ovations from the crowd that evening as they broke into chants of “Pete! Pete! Pete!”

Photo by Rebecca M. Alvin

Buttigieg also spoke several times, and perhaps with the most specificity, about climate change, using the term climate disruption as well, adding that as president he would increase federal funding for climate research to four times the current amount and put a price on carbon to get to the true cost of the effect it has on our climate. Buttigieg spent the Fourth of July campaigning in Iowa speaking of unprecedented crop failures there and acknowledging our coastal vulnerability here in Provincetown.

When speaking to Provincetown Magazine Buttigieg said that should he be elected president his priority on day one would be “repairing our democracy.” From addressing voter disenfranchisement to gerrymandering to campaign finance reform, Buttigieg said that we cannot underestimate the damage being done to our democratic institutions and the need to organize to make them stronger than ever before. But he added we also need to address the values of us as a people. Kindness, altruism, optimism; these are American values that don’t belong to any one political party, he added.

As the Buttigiegs left Town Hall to head to a private fundraiser in the West End, they waved to crowds assembled outside. Those walking by included several wearing t-shirts supporting the campaigns of senators Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, showing that in this crowded field for the Democratic nomination, all of the candidates have a lot of work to do before the caucuses and primaries begin in early 2020. Buttigieg of course wants to be that nominee to take on and defeat Trump, but when addressing the crowd he said there are 24 candidates competing for the nomination and only one will get it. “The other 23 need to rally around the one that does, and fast.”

Photo by Rebecca M. Alvin

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Graphic Artist

Ginger Mountain

Ginger Mountain (MS Communications Media, BA Fine Arts/Teaching Certification K-12) has been part of the graphic design team at Provincetown Magazine since 2008. Ginger has worked as a creative director, individual contractor, and freelance designer with clients representing many areas —business software, consumer products, professional services, entertainment, and network hardware to name just a few — providing creative layout and development of a wide range of print media content. Her clients ranged from small local businesses to large corporations and Fortune 500 companies, from New Hampshire to Georgia

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