I rarely read political memoirs – especially the ones by politicians getting ready to run for president. The last one I read was Bobby Jindal’s Leadership and Crisis in 2011. That doesn’t mean that I don’t find politics interesting. I usually watch the presidential elections like I’m watching a movie. Most of them have points of interest along the way. Some are better than others. And then occasionally I’m wishing that one might be just a movie – but, no, it’s real.
It was sometime in 2018 that I first heard of Pete Buttigieg and the possibility that he would run for President. Since he was a mayor of a medium-size Indiana town (South Bend), I was both skeptical and intrigued at the same time. As I’ve seen him interview and speak over the last few months, I’ve been leaning more in the intrigued direction. So that brought me to his recent book Shortest Way Home: One Mayor’s Challenge and a Model for America’s Future.
I was pleasantly surprised at how well-written the book is but after hearing him speak it shouldn’t surprise me. He’s very articulate but yet never condescends or talks down to anyone. His story-telling ability is equally as sharp and entertaining. I was impressed with the research he did to give the reader an idea of what South Bend, Indiana was like during its heyday of the 40’s and 50’s when Studebaker made the city thrive. He shares his successes while being mayor of South Bend but doesn’t hesitate to share mistakes from which he learned. One of my favorite excerpts is his description of a Farmer’s Market on his running route:
Its feel is still homey, and jars of pickled eggs and strawberry preserves outnumber those of salsa and kombucha. Under its roof on a Saturday morning, it is as if American society never fractured after World War II. Korea vets in flannel shirts down from Michigan, accompanied by ruddy grandsons in Under Armour camo jackets, coexist peacefully with Montessori moms navigating strollers between clumps of grandparents eyeing big baskets of apples and small ones of plums. Trucker hats are worn without irony here; the hipsters are welcome but not in charge.
The book does give details about where he stands on varying political issues; however, I didn’t get the impression that was the significant purpose. Or he at least mixes them up with both broad strokes and intimate details of his growing up in a place he loves and his step-by-step journey into politics.
It’s less about a candidate and more about a man.
I’m wondering if I’ll have a good reason to remember this post in about a year.