* son of a committed Marxist father
* Came out as gay in 2015
* Was mayor of South Bend, Indiana from 2012-2020
* Has blamed Israel for Palestinian suffering
* Appointed as Secretary of Transportation by President Joe Biden
* Secretly took paternity leave for two months in the middle of a supply-chain crisis in 2021
Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg was born January 19, 1982, in South Bend, Indiana. His surname is of Maltese origin, and may be pronounced boo-tuh-jej or boot-a-judge.
Buttigieg’s Father and the Italian Communist Antonio Gramsci
Pete Buttigieg is the only child of academics Joseph Buttigieg (died 2019) and Jennifer Anne Montgomery. His parents met when they were both working at New Mexico State University. His mother worked as a linguist and professor at the University of Notre Dame for 29 years. Pete Buttigieg may have inherited his interest in languages from his mother: He can speak – though not fluently — Norwegian, French, Spanish, Italian, Maltese, Arabic, and Dari Persian.
Pete’s father, Joseph Buttigieg, was a Marxist academic raised in Malta. He earned a bachelor’s and a master’s degree from the University of Malta, a second bachelor’s degree from Heythrop College in London, and a doctorate in 1976 from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Binghamton. He became a U.S. citizen in 1979.
Joseph Buttigieg’s time as an English professor at the University of Notre Dame ended when he retired in 2017. His main areas of academic interest included critical theory and the relationship between culture and politics. He was also editor and translator of the multi-volume critical edition of Antonio Gramsci’s Prison Notebooks, a project that was funded by the National Endowment for the Humanities. During his years as a prisoner, Gramsci, the founder of the Italian Communist Party and an associate of Vladimir Lenin, filled 32 notebooks (containing almost 3,000 pages) with his political and philosophical meditations on how Marxist theory could be applied practically to the conditions of advanced capitalism. The notebooks, which were smuggled out from Gramsci’s prison cell, were eventually published in Italian several years after World War II, more than a decade after Gramsci’s death.
Joseph Buttigieg’s articles about the Marxist theorist were translated into Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese. He also helped to found the International Gramsci Society, becoming its president.
The phrase, “The long march through the institutions,” referring to revolutionary change effected by incrementalism, accurately sums up the thinking of Gramsci, even though he did not use the phrase. In fact, it was coined by German student leader Rudi Dutschke in the 1960s, though it is widely misattributed to Gramsci, according to Joseph Buttigieg.
The senior Buttigieg “supported an updated version of Marxism that jettisoned some of Marx and Engels’ more doctrinaire theories, though he was undoubtedly Marxist,” Emily Brooks and Joseph Simonson reported in the Washington Examiner in April 2019.
Joseph Buttigieg was an adviser to Rethinking Marxism, an academic journal that published articles “that seek to discuss, elaborate, and/or extend Marxian theory,” as well as a member of the editorial board of Boundary 2, a journal of postmodern theory, literature, and culture. He addressed Rethinking Marxism conferences and other gatherings of high-profile Marxists.
In a 2000 paper for Rethinking Marxism that critiqued the approach of Human Rights Watch, the elder Buttigieg, alongside two other authors, referred to “the Marxist project to which we subscribe.” In 1998, he penned an article for the Chronicle of Higher Education about an event in New York City celebrating the 150th anniversary of the Communist Manifesto. “If The Communist Manifesto was meant to liberate the proletariat, the Manifesto itself in recent years needed liberating from Marxism’s narrow post-Cold War orthodoxies and exclusive cadres. It has been freed,” Buttigieg wrote. “Equity, environmental consciousness, and racial justice are surely some of the ingredients of a healthy Marxism,” he added. “Indeed, Marxism’s greatest appeal — undiminished by the collapse of Communist edifices — is the imbalances produced by other sociopolitical governing structures.”
Communism expert Paul Kengor asserts that the elder Buttigieg was part of a group of leftist professors who focused on insinuating Marxism into American culture: “They’re part of a wider international community of Marxist theorists and academicians with a particular devotion to the writings of the late Italian Marxist theorist Antonio Gramsci, who died over 80 years ago. Gramsci was all about applying Marxist theory to culture and cultural institutions — what is often referred to as a ‘long march through the institutions,’ such as film, media, and especially education.”
Pete Buttigieg enjoyed a close relationship with his radical father, who was supportive of him when he came out as a gay man. In his 2019 memoir, Shortest Way Home, the son recalled that his father was a “man of the left, no easy thing on a campus like Notre Dame’s in the 1980s.”
Buttigieg did not grasp his parents’ political discussions when he was young but, he later wrote, “the more I heard these aging professors talk, the more I wanted to learn how to decrypt their sentences, and to grasp the political backstory of the grave concerns that commanded their attention and aroused such fist-pounding dinner debate.”
Admiration for Bernie Sanders
As a high school student, Buttigieg won a “Profiles in Courage” essay contest by writing about self-described socialist politician Bernie Sanders, who at the time was Vermont’s sole at-large member of the U.S. House of Representatives. Said Buttigieg in the essay, which cast Sanders as a heroic figure:
“Cynical candidates have developed an ability to outgrow their convictions in order to win power. Cynical citizens have given up on the election process, going to the polls at one of the lowest rates in the democratic world. Such an atmosphere inevitably distances our society from its leadership and is thus a fundamental threat to the principles of democracy. It also calls into question what motivates a run for office – in many cases, apparently, only the desire to occupy it. Fortunately for the political process, there remain a number of committed individuals who are steadfast enough in their beliefs to run for office to benefit their fellow Americans. Such people are willing to eschew political and personal comfort and convenience because they believe they can make a difference. One outstanding and inspiring example of such integrity is the country’s only Independent Congressman, Vermont’s Bernie Sanders.
“Sanders’ courage is evident in the first word he uses to describe himself: ‘Socialist.’ In a country where Communism is still the dirtiest of ideological dirty words, in a climate where even liberalism is considered radical, and Socialism is immediately and perhaps willfully confused with Communism, a politician dares to call himself a socialist? He does indeed. Here is someone who has ‘looked into his own soul’ and expressed an ideology, the endorsement of which, in today’s political atmosphere, is analogous to a self-inflicted gunshot wound. Even though he has lived through a time in which an admitted socialist could not act in a film, let alone hold a Congressional seat, Sanders is not afraid to be candid about his political persuasion.”
College & Afterward
Buttigieg earned a bachelor’s degree in history and literature from Harvard University in 2004. He was awarded a Rhodes scholarship and studied politics, economics, and philosophy at Oxford University, where he earned a second bachelor’s degree in 2007.
From 2007 to 2010, Buttigieg was employed as a consultant by McKinsey & Company where he specialized in economic development, business, logistics, and energy initiatives for governmental and private-sector clients. He worked for the campaign of presidential candidate John Kerry in 2004, and in 2008 for Indiana gubernatorial candidate Jill Long Thompson. In 2009 he became a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy Reserve.
In 2010 Buttigieg ran for treasurer of Indiana and was defeated by Richard Mourdock, a Republican. In 2011 he won the election for mayor of South Bend with 74 percent of the vote, becoming, at 29, the youngest mayor of a city with over 100,000 residents. In 2014 he completed a seven-month tour of duty in Afghanistan while taking a leave of absence from his mayoral duties. He received the Joint Service Commendation Medal.
A self-described progressive Democrat, Buttigieg served two terms as mayor of South Bend, Indiana, from 2012-2020. During his tenure in that position, he removed the city’s first black police chief, naming a white replacement. The police department as a whole become less racially diverse while Buttigieg was mayor. As South Bend Police Department veteran Derek Dieter told CNN : “He took a passive approach with the police department. I’ve gone through four or five mayors, but this has taken a certain turn. Qualified minority officers leave, because there is no avenue of advancement or promotion.”
One of Buttigieg’s signature policy programs, the “1,000 houses” initiative, called for 1,000 vacant homes to be demolished or rehabilitated in 1,000 days, to ease the city’s housing crunch. But the initiative resulted in increased gentrification of black and Hispanic neighborhoods; asbestos contamination in many homes; a large number of undeveloped, empty lots; and escalating crime rates.
Coming Out As Gay
In the midst of his mayoral reelection campaign in 2015, Buttigieg came out as gay. He won the mayoral race with 80 percent of the vote.
Buttigieg and his husband, who was born Chasten Glezman but took the name Chasten Buttigieg upon marriage in June 2018, purchased a house in South Bend around the corner from Pete’s parents.
Ties to DNC, Indiana Urban Mayors Caucus, Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, and Truman National Security Project
Buttigieg ran for Democratic National Committee chairman in 2017 but pulled out before the vote. He was also president of the Indiana Urban Mayors Caucus and sat on the boards of directors of the Indiana Association of Cities and Towns, as well as the Truman National Security Project.
Buttigieg on Capitalism & Socialism
In March 2019 Buttigieg told MSNBC that he thinks of himself as a capitalist but believes the system should be changed. Specifically, he stated that big business is a threat: “The biggest problem with capitalism right now is the way it’s become intertwined with power and is eroding our democracy.” Buttigieg was less critical of socialism, telling the network that socialism “is a word in American politics that has basically lost all meaning” and “has been used as a kill switch to stop an idea from being talked about.”
Buttigieg and Religion
“Buttigieg’s unapologetic harnessing of Christian rhetoric in defense of liberal political principles has caused a sensation,” Justin DaMetz wrote in The Washington Post in May 2019, describing Buttigieg as “very open about his Christian faith and his home in the Episcopal Church.” His “theology, much like his politics,” said DaMetz, “is vaguely center-left, full of a lot of catchphrases and platitudes, and appears not overly substantive.”
Buttigieg frequently cites biblical scripture as moral justification for certain policy positions. Some examples:
In 2020 Buttigieg was harshly critical of Vice President Mike Pence, whose tenure as Indiana governor overlapped with Mayor Buttigieg’s in South Bend. He questioned “why an evangelical Christian like Mike Pence wants to be on a ticket with a president caught with a porn star” — a reference to President Donald Trump, who allegedly had a sexual affair with porn star Stormy Daniels.
Buttigieg also questioned whether the terms “Christian” and “Republican” should be considered synonymous, Alex Morris wrote in Rolling Stone in November 2019. During one of that year’s presidential primary debates, Buttigieg condemned the Trump administration’s immigration-and-border policies, falsely characterizing them as policies that cruelly ripped young children from the arms of their migrant parents and placed them into inhospitable “cages”: “The Republican Party likes to cloak itself in the language of religion. But we should call out hypocrisy when we see it. And for a party that associates itself with Christianity to say that it is OK to suggest that God would smile on the division of families at the hands of federal agents, that God would condone putting children in cages, [that party] has lost all claim to ever use religious language again.”
Israel & Iran
At the annual J Street conference in October 2019, then-presidential candidate Buttigieg said the United States needs to “have mechanisms to … make sure U.S. taxpayer support for Israel doesn’t turn into U.S. taxpayer support for a move like annexation” or for “settlement construction” that would be “incompatible or at best detrimental to what we need to see happen” in the region.
During the same speech, Buttigieg also said that there were “increasingly disturbing signs that the [Benjamin] Netanyahu government is turning away from peace,” and he blamed Netanyahu’s policies for Palestinian “suffering” and the “humanitarian crisis in Gaza.” He never uttered the words “Islamic,” “Islamist,” or “jihad”, and called for “redirecting” resources to combat the purported crisis of growing white nationalism. Moreover, he claimed that it was “in our national security interest” for the U.S. to rejoin the Iran nuclear deal, which he lauded for being “as close to a true ‘art of the deal’ as it gets.”
President Biden’s Secretary of Transportation
On December 15, 2020, President-elect Joe Biden selected Buttigieg as his nominee for Secretary of Transportation. Of his nomination, President Biden said: “Mayor Pete Buttigieg is a patriot and a problem-solver who speaks to the best of who we are as a nation. I am nominating him for Secretary of Transportation because this position stands at the nexus of so many of the interlocking challenges and opportunities ahead of us. Jobs, infrastructure, equity, and climate all come together at the DOT [Department of Transportation], the site of some of our most ambitious plans to build back better. I trust Mayor Pete to lead this work with focus, decency, and a bold vision — he will bring people together to get big things done.”
On February 2, 2021, the U.S. Senate confirmed Buttigieg in an 86-13 vote, making him the first openly gay individual to be confirmed to a U.S. president’s cabinet. He was sworn in as Secretary of Transportation the following day.
According to Fox News: “[D]uring his [Senate] confirmation hearing, Buttigieg left the door open to raising the federal gas tax to pay for repairs to America’s crumbling roadways, pledged to help put in place new federal automotive fuel economy standards to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and defended Biden for revoking the Keystone XL pipeline permit, saying job losses will be offset by creating new green jobs.” Buttigieg told senators: “I think all options need to be on the table. As you know, the gas tax has not been increased since 1993, and it’s never been pegged to inflation. And it’s one of the reasons why the current state of the Highway Trust Fund is that there’s more going out than coming in.” The country needs “a solution that can provide some predictability and sustainability,” said Buttigieg, adding: “In the long term, we need to bear in mind also that as vehicles become more efficient and as we pursue electrification, sooner or later there will be questions about whether the gas tax can be effective at all. In the short to medium term [a solution] could mean revisiting the gas tax, adjusting it, and/or connecting it to inflation.”
Buttigieg seemed unconcerned about the regressive effect that hiking the gas tax would have on low-income people. Questioned by Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) at his confirmation hearing, Buttigieg admitted that such a tax increase could disproportionately affect the poor. “Certainly one of the concerns with the gas tax is it’s likely not as progressive as the federal income tax, for example,” he said.
Several Republican senators criticized the Buttigieg nomination. Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas said through a spokesperson that he voted against the nominee, because he had a “lack of experience on most transportation issues” and marched “in lockstep” with Biden’s “radical energy policy.” Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee said she was concerned that the nominee would “put the administration’s environmental goals ahead of some very basic changes to federal policy that would lighten regulatory load on county and city mayors trying to get transportation projects off the ground.” And Sen. Rick Scott of Florida wrote on Twitter that he was opposing Buttigieg because the nominee favored raising the tax on gasoline “to support government’s wasteful spending.”
Buttigieg’s Staged Bike Ride to the White House
On April 1, 2021, CNN reporter DJ Judd shared a video showing a team of Secret Service agents unloading Buttigieg’s bicycle from the back of an SUV, and Buttigieg — who routinely has voiced his concerns about carbon emissions and climate change — then riding the bike a short distance to a White House Cabinet meeting while a security detail consisting of at least two SUVs followed him all the way to his destination.
Buttigieg Quietly Takes Paid Parental Leave During Supply Chain & Ports Crisis, After Adopting Two Infants
From mid-August through mid-October 2021, Buttigieg secretly — with no announcement by the White House — went on paid paternity leave so he could spend time with his husband, Chasten, and the two babies whom they adopted in early September. His leave coincided with during a major supply chain and ports crisis that was causing great harm to the U.S. economy. As the Daily Caller reported on October 15:
“In recent weeks, the Biden administration has grappled with major supply chain disruptions that have led to food shortages and price increases, as well as concerns that retailers may not be able to stock shelves for the holiday months. The White House announced on Wednesday that the Port of Los Angeles would operate 24/7 for the foreseeable future to unload cargo ships circling off of the coast. Amid the disarray, some conservatives have questioned Buttigieg’s decision to take more than two months off, noting that the nation’s ports and interstate trucking are within his purview.”
In response to critics who charged that Buttigieg’s paternity leave caused him to neglect the responsibilities of his job as Transportation Secretary, Buttigieg, in an October 2021 interview with CNN’s Jake Tapper, said: “Now, look, even though I have been on paternity leave . . . when you take a job like mine, you understand and accept that you’re going to have to be available 24/7, depending on what’s going on, and you’re going to have to engage. And I did, even if that meant taking a phone call or making a decision from a hospital room.”
But according to a January 2023 report by the government watchdog group, Protect the Public’s Trust (PPT), Buttigieg, during his paternity leave, had denied a request by Republican Senator Chuck Grassley for a phone call during his paternity leave. Wrote PPT:
“However, documents obtained by PPT in a FOIA lawsuit with DOT tell a much different story. Contrary to the Secretary’s explicit claims about taking phone calls, DOT [Department Of Transportation] rebuffed a request by Senator Chuck Grassley for a phone conversation with the Secretary during his paternity leave. While the supply chain crisis was raging, the Senator sought to discuss resolution of an issue involving a massive, $1.2 billion bridge project that was nearing completion. Secretary Buttigieg’s office spurned the Senator’s appeal for a call by stating, ‘Unfortunately, the Secretary is currently on leave due to the birth of his twins,’ and suggesting ‘perhaps we can aim for a meeting when the Secretary returns from his leave.’ Records show the Secretary had been on leave for nearly six weeks at this point. No prospective dates or times were offered, however, and Secretary Buttigieg’s calendars reveal that he did not return from his paternity leave until weeks after Senator Grassley’s request.”
Moreover, PPT found that Buttigieg had failed to formally delegate his essential duties as Transportation Secretary to anyone:
“The lack of a formal delegation of the Secretary’s authority also appeared to cause some havoc. Although the Department regulations assign authority to the Deputy Secretary to take some actions, they leave authority for other tasks and responsibilities unclear. As a result, the Secretary’s leave evidently created turmoil within the Department. In one incident about a week after his leave began, attorneys across the Department were forced to engage in a frantic conversation beginning on a Friday night and continuing through that weekend to resolve an issue of delegation of authority around a large loan program. Another heavily redacted conversation showed DOT attorneys were forced to determine the status of authority within the Department to make legally mandated reports to Congress.”
Buttigieg Says People Should Buy Electric Cars in Order to Deal with High Gasoline Prices
On November 28, 2021, Buttigieg told MSNBC’s Jonathan Capehart that the Biden administration’s “Build Back Better” (BBB) legislation would include financial incentives designed to persuade people to stop using gasoline-powered vehicles and switch over to electric vehicles (EV). “I’ll give you one example,” he said. “It [BBB] contains incentives to make it more affordable to buy an electric vehicle, up to a $12,500 discount in effect for families thinking about getting an EV. Families that once they own that electric vehicle will never have to worry about gas prices again. […] The people who stand to benefit most from owning an EV are often rural residents who have the longest distances to drive. And underserved urban residents in areas where there are high gas prices and they’re lower income. So they would gain the most by having that vehicle.”
At the time when Buttigieg made these remarks, the average cost of new electric vehicles in the United States was $51,532, nearly $30,000 more than the average compact car.
Buttigieg Announces the National Roadway Safety Strategy
During a March 2, 2022 appearance on MSNBC’s The 11th Hour, Buttigieg stated that President Biden would not authorize the completion of the Keystone Pipeline as a means of countering the skyrocketing price of crude oil amid the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Anchor Stephanie Ruhle said: “I want to stay on gas for another moment. You’re absolutely right, the president does not set the price of gas, but he can influence it. And while releasing some strategic reserves matters, given how much has been released, it is really just a drop in the bucket. Are there things, and I realize this is controversial, it has huge environmental impacts, could the president possibly consider authorizing the Keystone Pipeline? Or working something out with Iran?” Buttigieg replied: “Look, the president has said that all options are on the table. But we also need to make sure that we are not galloping after permanent solutions to immediate short term problems, where more strategic and tactical actions in the short term that can make a difference, like what you have with the strategic reserve, which exists partly in order to respond to situations like this. The president has laid policies that are going help cushion the impacts of any volatility in energy markets in the future by building up more of a diversified and homegrown energy base for this country.”
On March 7, 2022 — as gasoline prices in the U.S. were skyrocketing against the backdrop of Russia’s recent invasion of Ukraine — Buttigieg advised Americans to purchase electric vehicles. “Clean transportation can bring significant cost savings for the American people as well,” he said at an “Accelerating Clean Transportation” event. “Last month, we announced a $5 billion investment to build a nationwide electric vehicle charging network for the people from rural to suburban to urban communities can all benefit from the gas savings of driving an EV.”
As of November 2021, the average price of an electric vehicle was $56,437 — 6.2 percent higher than it had been in November 2020.
Buttigieg also touted the Biden administration’s newly announced $3.7 billion boost in funding for public transportation, including an investment in fleets of electric buses. “Transit gets riders where they need to be efficiently and affordably with far less pollution to thrive,” said Buttigieg. “And it’s even good for drivers of cars, because it means less congestion and traffic on our roads. And transit is even better when it’s clean transit with modern electric buses that don’t pollute at all.”
On June 30, 2022, Buttigieg, who had previously declared that “there is racism physically built into some of our highways,” initiated a $1 billion pilot plan — the so-called Reconnecting Communities program — to address what he saw as racial segregation created by roads in cities and neighborhoods across the United States. “Transportation can connect us to jobs, services and loved ones, but we‘ve also seen countless cases around the country where a piece of infrastructure cuts off a neighborhood or a community because of how it was built,” said Buttigieg when announcing the program in Birmingham, Alabama. “This is a forward-looking vision,” he explained. “Our focus isn’t about assigning blame. It isn’t about getting caught up in guilt. It’s about fixing a problem. It’s about mending what has been broken, especially when the damage was done with taxpayer dollars.”
Buttigieg believes that:
Buttigieg Quotes About Various Issues
(b) “Even if the Supreme Court upholds the idea that the Civil Rights Act applies to discrimination against, for example, same-sex couples in the workplace, we’ve still got a long way to go when it comes to other forms of discrimination, for housing, public accommodation. That is why we urgently need an Equality Act. I will fight for that, and I will sign it the moment that it hits my desk.”
(b) “Systemic racism has touched every part of American life, from health to homeownership. If you walk into an emergency room and you are black, your reports of pain will be taken less seriously. If you apply for a job and you are black, you are less likely to be called just because of the name on the resume. It’s why I’ve proposed that we do everything from investing in historically red-lined neighborhoods to build black wealth in homeownership to supporting entrepreneurship for black Americans.” (2019)
(c) “It’s not enough to just take a racist policy, replace it with a neutral one and expect things will just get better on their own. I have proposed the most comprehensive vision to tackle systemic racism …, marshaling as many resources as went into the Marshall plan that rebuilt Europe … to make sure that we’re not only dealing with things like the overincarceration of black Americans, but also black solutions, entrepreneurship, raising to 25% the target for the federal government to do business with minority-owned businesses, investing in HBCUs [Historically Black Colleges & Universities] that are training and educating the next generation of entrepreneurs.” (2019)
(d) “[T]here is no question that systemic racism has penetrated to every level of our system, and my city [South Bend] was not immune. I took a lot of heat for discussing systemic racism with my own police department, but we’ve got to confront the fact that there is no escaping how this is part of all of our policies.” (2020)
(b) “My community is in anguish right now because of an officer-involved shooting, a black man, Eric Logan, killed by a white officer. And I’m not allowed to take sides until the investigation comes back. It’s a mess. And we’re hurting. And until we move policing out from the shadow of systemic racism, whatever this particular incident teaches us, we will be left with the bigger problem of the fact that there is a wall of mistrust put up one racist act at a time, not just from what’s happened in the past, but from what’s happening around the country in the present. I am determined to bring about a day when a white person driving a vehicle and a black person driving a vehicle, when they see a police officer approaching, feels the exact same thing.” (2019)
(b) “As we work to end mandatory minimums for nonviolent offenses, here too we must be intentional about fixing disparities that have deeply unfair racial consequences. It is time to face the simple fact that capital punishment as seen in America has always been a discriminatory practice and we would be a fairer and safer country when we join the ranks of modern nations who have abolished the death penalty.” (2019, at the National Action Network)
(b) “Another thing I would never have done is to get us out of the nuclear deal setting off a chain reaction that has destabilized the regional security framework and the politics of that area. We need to have a completely different approach. We’re going to have to do something new. The point is that we never should have left it in the first place.” (2019)