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    Political Roundup: The First LGBT President, Bernie in SF and Endorsements for Prez

    By Peter Gallotta–

    It was Heidi Klum on Project Runway who liked to say, “One day you’re in, the next day you’re out.” It’s an adage applicable not only in fashion but is also well suited for political candidates. Right now, Mayor Pete Buttigieg is very “in.”

    The small town, openly gay, millennial Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is running for president and having a political moment. In fact, he’s having such a moment that he’s now polling at 11% in Iowa, putting him squarely in third place after fellow Democratic presidential hopefuls Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Just two months ago in the same Iowa poll, Mayor Pete didn’t even make the scoreboard. So, what happened?

    Pete Buttigieg, some might say, is the antithesis of Trump. A Harvard grad and Rhodes Scholar, he speaks seven languages, served in the military, is a concert pianist, and was first elected to public office at the age of 29. Impressed yet? In a 2016 interview, Barack Obama name dropped Buttigieg as one of the “future leaders of the Democratic Party.”

    While most voters still don’t know how to say his last name (it’s pronounced boot-uh-judge), Buttigieg is starting to gain steam—and name ID—after home run performances at a recent CNN town hall and guest spots on The View and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert.

    Although it’s hard to pinpoint exactly where Buttigieg falls ideologically, he has pushed to raise the minimum wage in South Bend and supports single payer healthcare and abolishing the electoral college. While some argue that he could be the millennial choice for president (millennials are expected to make up one third of the electorate in the 2020 primary), it’s unclear how he’ll fair with women voters, people of color and coastal and progressive Democrats.

    Is it then just a honeymoon phase before the media frenzy turns elsewhere? Maybe. But even if it is short lived, Mayor Pete—who could be the first openly gay president—is gaining a foothold within a crowded field. Voters are taking seriously a young gay man with progressive ideas from Indiana. How do you like them apples, Trump?

    On March 24, thanks to the invitation of my friend and California Democratic Party delegate Gloria Berry, I found myself standing in a crowd of 13,000 in the Great Meadow at Fort Mason. Looking around I saw what Harvey Milk would call, “the us’s”: Queer people, young people, people of color, Muslims, seniors, people with disabilities, immigrants and working-class folks.

    As we waited for Bernie Sanders to come out on stage, John Lennon’s “Power to the People” blasted over the sound system and a thunderous roar swept over the crowd. Sure, Bernie is an older, white, straight man, but standing there I saw firsthand, and for the first time, that the people-powered grassroots movement growing behind him is a tapestry of the communities directly under attack by the Trump administration. Standing there it felt for the first time in some time that we were not alone. That we were—that we are—in this political fight, hell, this political revolution, together.

    People are quick to judgment when it comes to Bernie’s political views and his role in pushing Democratic politics to the left at the discomfort of the political establishment and elites. During his hour-long speech, Bernie remarked at the irony of those that call him “radical.” As he said, is it so radical to want a living wage? To want affordable and accessible healthcare just like every other industrialized nation? To work 40 hours a week and not live in poverty? To want clean air, clean water and a healthy environment?

    He has a good point. What is so “radical” about asking our government to ameliorate suffering, to remedy injustice, to eradicate poverty? Is that not what our government has done throughout history? From the New Deal to Social Security to the G.I. Bill to the Voting Rights Act, this country, and its leaders, have delivered bold, just, “radical” policies. What Bernie speaks of today, when he talks about Medicare for All, a Green New Deal and raising the federal minimum wage, is no different.

    Standing there listening, I felt like I was witnessing the beginning of a new Progressive era in America—an era in which we might finally dismantle America’s love affair with neoliberalism and our corporatocracy. While I would love to see the first LGBT president, or the first black woman president elected in my lifetime, I would also like to see the first corporate-free president elected—a president who is beholden to working families and who recognizes that income inequality is pervasive in cities like San Francisco and throughout the heartland of this country.

    Say what you will about Bernie, but I think it’s time for Democrats to give him a more serious look. I was proud to endorse and support him in the Democratic Primary in 2016, and after last week, I’m feeling the Bern once again. Two other San Francisco queer progressives have thrown their support behind Bernie—former Assemblymember Tom Ammiano and former Supervisor and current Chair of the San Francisco Democratic Party Chair David Campos.

    Maybe it’s just us—or maybe it’s just me—but what is truly, unbelievably “radical” for America is not Bernie Sanders. It’s letting Trump serve another 4 years.

    Peter Gallotta is a 30-something LGBT political activist holding on to the city that he loves thanks to rent control and two-for-one happy hour specials. He is a former President of the Harvey Milk LGBTQ Democratic Club and currently serves as an appointed member of the San Francisco Democratic County Central Committee and an elected delegate to the California Democratic Party.