As the Democratic race for presidential nominee heats up, over 4,500 people braced below-freezing temperatures on Monday night as Democratic hopeful Pete Buttigieg took the stage in Salt Lake City for a town hall event.
The Source had the chance to interview the former South Bend mayor before the event and learn his views on several important issues as well as what important role he thinks the hip-hop culture plays in American politics and society.
The Source: As you may know, The Source is a magazine that focuses on the Hip-Hop culture and community. We have diverse readers of all generations and demographics that are all brought together by the commonality of Hip-Hop music and culture. If you are elected president, what do you hope to be your touchstone to bring together a country as diverse as the United States?
Buttigieg: Well, I think it’s that we share the same future. The diversity of this country is its strength. We have different stories, different backgrounds. We are a racially diverse, culturally diverse nation, but what we have in common is that we are aspiring to a future that’s going to be better than the past and one that moves in the direction of more equality, more justice- and so much of that is what’s at stake in the decisions that are made in Washington D.C. It’s part of why I got into being involved in politics and it’s why I’m running for president.
One of the concerns from urban voters such as myself is the skyrocketing cost of living as is the case here in downtown Salt Lake City. If elected, how do you intend to work with urban planners and other government entities to keep the cost of living at an affordable rate while still promoting reasonably healthy capitalism?
So urban planning is my bread and butter because I’m the mayor of a diverse, largely low-income city. Or I was for two terms- I’m still getting used to being a former mayor. So I know the challenges that communities face in creating opportunities for affordable housing. Actually just this weekend, we released a new plan on how we can use the powers of the presidency and federal leadership to create more affordable housing and make cities more livable. That includes investing major federal resources and housing choice vouchers, low-income housing tax credits, building an additional two million units of affordable housing. We’ve got to make sure that more affordable housing exists and we’ve got to make sure that people are earning a better income, to begin with, so that they can afford not just housing, but all of the necessities of life. And that goes for everything from empowering workers and encouraging labor protections and labor union participation to increase the minimum wage which we know is not enough to live on in any part of the United States, especially our biggest cities.
We are a nonpartisan outlet, but we do heavily encourage voting. Why do you think it’s important for everyone to vote in this election?
Well, here’s my message: More than any other election, all of us have a lot at stake. For young voters- remember that the longer that you’re planning to be here, the more you have a stake in the decisions that are about to be made about your life. Whether it’s acting on climate change, doing something about gun violence, or creating an economy that you can thrive in. So we have to make sure that we get this right and this President [Trump] is tearing our country apart. This is our one chance to make a difference and end this presidency. You know, the Senate wasn’t going to do its job, so now it’s time for us to do ours.
Speaking of elections, how do you hope to better connect with the Hip-Hop community as the election moves forward it should you become the nominee?
Well, I think that Hip-Hop is about aspiration and it is about the lived experience of those who are encountering American life and working to make it. I think that the themes that emerge in Hip-Hop are the themes that are at stake and whether we have good or bad leadership in government. The way I think about it is that all politics is about our everyday lives and whether we can make them better or worse.
A lot of people were surprised that you’re holding an event here in Utah. You have been endorsed by Salt Lake County mayor Jenny Wilson, her father and former mayor Ted Wilson, and district attorney Sim Gill. He was actually the prosecutor on the case when my car was stolen and I can say that he and his staff are great. So you have some very strong support in the area, but still, some might argue that Utah is to red for a Democrat to win. How do you hope to appeal to a base that has traditionally voted Republican?
First of all, Utah Democrats are set to vote in just a couple of weeks on Super Tuesday, so that’s going to play an important role in what happens in the road to the nomination. I also believe as we look ahead to November that there’s no such thing as a permanently “red state.” I believe that because I’m from Indiana. Indiana hadn’t voted Democratic since LBJ until Barack Obama came along and inspired so many people to vote that we [Indiana] turned blue for the first time in generations. If that can happen in Indiana, it can happen anywhere and I believe in making sure that we engage voters in every part of the country.
Well, we can tell you got engagement here tonight. So now for the super heavy hitting questions. We are a Hip-Hop magazine, so I have to ask: who do you think is the best hip-hop artist or group of all time?
I think Tupac can probably lay the lay claim to all-time greatest, but there are such amazing new artists out right now.
So who are some new artists that are on your playlist right now?
I’m on a Little Simz kick recently. I think she’s really interesting. I don’t pretend to be a Hip-Hop expert, but some really great stuff comes onto my playlist that I think is really exciting.
Since you’re from Indiana and March is just around the corner, I’m sure you have an opinion on this one. Who do you have in your NCAA Final Four brackets?
So I have to admit I haven’t been keeping up enough to put together the bracket. I’m always pulling for Indiana teams. So of course, I’ve got Notre Dame in our home, in my backyard, IU down on the other end. You know some years it’s been fantastic- we had Butler and IU and Notre Dame and Purdue all looking good. We’ll see how it shakes out now and whether heart versus head wins out if I manage to put a bracket together.
Following our interview, Buttigieg was introduced by Salt Lake City mayor Erin Mendenhall (who also formally endorsed him as part of her introduction) before spending about 45 minutes responding to audience questions.