Dr. Claudia M. Gold: Barnstorming for Buttigieg
GREAT BARRINGTON — Just six months earlier, most of us had never heard of Pete Buttigieg. Following separate and unique paths, we each came to recognize the extraordinary gift he, together with his husband Chasten, was offering our country.
So, when in September we heard the call of the Barnstormers for Pete, an organization that rapidly grew from a few people with an idea to a movement of over 1,000 people representing every state in the US, we answered. We traveled by airplane and by car, some navigating a snowstorm across the entire state of Illinois and others renting cars after cancelled flights, to meet in Des Moines on a cold, rainy November day. Together with local supporters from all 99 counties across Iowa, we formed a group over 2,300 strong.
Inspired by Obama's experience at the Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in 2007, since renamed the Liberty and Justice Celebration, the idea was to recreate the moment that turned the tide, transforming him from an unlikely candidate, behind in every poll, to the eventual winner of the nomination and the presidency.
The many Barnstormers from across the country, all clad in instantly recognizable blue Barnstormer t-shirts and scattered at various hotels across Des Moines, became instant family.
As we marched through the streets of Des Moines from a rally where Pete spoke to supporters to the Wells Fargo Arena where the dinner would be held, a drone overhead captured the seemingly endless parade of people carrying bright yellow and blue signs while shouting "I-O-W-A Mayor Pete all the way!"
Being amidst the thunderous cheering in the arena as Pete took the stage and delivered a powerful speech with his core message of hope and belonging, I had the thought that this event represented the very essence of democracy. Headlines in the hours and days that followed indicating that the country as a whole took notice, reinforced this notion.
Taking a moment to relish the experience, I recognize the pure joy of exercising my role as citizen. That a mayor of a small city in the Midwest, by virtue of the power of his message and his person alone, could rise to the position of lead contender for the presidency speaks to the health of democratic process.
He concluded in his speech with these words. "Iowa, Are you ready to bring this country together? Are you ready to turn the page to a new era together? Then let us make history together and we will have a lot to celebrate in November of next year, and we will know where to go from there."
As participants crisscrossed the country to return home following this extraordinary event, many shared stories on social media of encounters in airports both with new friends and new supporters. The sense of belonging Pete promises to deliver has already begun. Each of us has a voice, and we will be heard.
Dr. Claudia M. Gold is a pediatrician and infant-parent mental health specialist in Great Barrington.
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