“Get a grip, Joyce,” said a good friend with whom Fred and I were having dinner a couple of weeks ago. Next thing you know, you’ll tell us that Pete walks on water. Seriously.”
His comment stopped me. Cold.
We had been talking about the pros and cons of some of the 2020 Democratic Presidential candidates. I piped up pretty quickly about Pete…of course. I boasted about Pete’s stunning intellect, his background, his bravery, his humility, his sense of right, equality, and empathy — and his heart. His huge, loving, human heart.
I mean, I was only summarizing the most obvious qualities that make Pete the most perfect candidate to ascend to the presidency among the sprawling field of presidential hopefuls. I didn’t lie. Nor did I exaggerate. But now, it seemed as though my effusive admiration for Pete — at least according to Tim — had crossed the line between veneration and…uh…worship.
Was he right? I had to consider his words…and then, adjust accordingly. (Well, maybe.)
Since that evening, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what Tim said. Was I obsessed with Pete’s candidacy? Uh…yeah…check. Did I think that no one else could possibly match the qualifications Pete would bring to the job that awaits in the White House? Check. Might I have been thinking that Pete and only Pete had the sheer grit and proficiency to move in and effectively rescue our debilitated democracy, battered from those punishing “45” mph winds that have been blowing and ripping our democracy apart for nearly three years? Check. Could the (gulp) fixation I have on Pete’s candidacy mean I have developed a kind of hero-worship? Or something…uh…more? Check — and possibly checkmate.
“Everything in moderation,” my mother used to say. I was grateful that hers was the voice that was leading my process of introspection. It was good advice she was always quick to impart…but why had it suddenly taken on a tone of admonition?
By my mom’s measure, I had gone off the deep end. But still, the big question lingered: Had my reverence for Pete risen to the level of spiritual glorification? I had to figure it out.
I started by assembling a list of the facts about Pete.
Now, some may argue that a few of these are more “subjective facts” (an oxymoron) than the everyday cold, hard kind. Ok. I’ll concede that they might be — but that’s only until one takes the extra deep dive to really get to know Pete. Then these descriptors become facts. The cold, hard kind.
But as I studied these attributes I had ascribed to Pete, the answer to my question began to emerge. Tim’s sense that my adulation for Pete had become something more than just that was actually true. But it just wasn’t what he argued it might be.
My Jewish faith tradition, like most of the world’s religions, instructs us to live our lives guided by the highest moral values desired by G-d: To do good deeds (“Mitzvot”) and acts of kindness; to live righteous lives of giving and caring; to participate in the repair of the world in its many broken places; to treat every human being with respect; to protect and preserve the sanctity of human life and dignity; to heal the sick; to welcome the stranger; to aid the poor; to guard and strengthen the fragility of the earth; and to pursue peace at all times and in all ways.
These are the most essential values imparted by Christianity as well — and they are the values by which Pete, a devoted Christian, lives his life. One can easily discern that these are the ideals that Pete models in his daily life…and of course, along the campaign trail. And these are the qualities that an American President must possess in order to mirror, as he/she must, the moral tenets upon which this nation was founded.
I pray to G-d daily for relief from the myriad evils wrought by this current administration. I pray that G-d will deliver this nation out of the hands of a madman and into the arms of a lover of humanity and a pillar of truth and nobility. I pray that G-d will strengthen all those — like Pete — who seek peace, equality and justice throughout the world.
In other words, I pray for Pete’s victory. And I fortify this prayer as I must by speaking of the rare qualities that will, in history, make Pete Buttigieg one of America’s greatest presidents. I believe that Pete — a heroic yet still mortal man — is on this earth and in this campaign to do the holy work of restoring our country to its place as the greatest, the most righteous and the most just and loving nation on earth.
So Tim was right. My words of adulation for Pete did speak of something deeper than just simple praise for a presidential candidate. They are a fervent prayer for the salvation of our besieged country — led by a man uniquely qualified and entirely capable of achieving this monumental task. And I am totally comfortable with that.
G-d bless Pete; and G-d bless America. #20PETE20