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McKinsey Buttigieg

This Week in the Narrative 133

Have you heard about Pete Buttigieg? Don’t worry, most people can’t pronounce his last name either. They just call him ‘Mayor Pete.’

He is, this Mayor from South Bend, Indiana turned presidential candidate, the latest Democratic media darling and establishment flavor of the month, the next in a long line of such luminaries as Beto O’Rourke (remember ‘Betomania’?).

But ‘Mayor Pete’ is not only an easier thing to call him. It’s a nickname which has come to represent a growing narrative around his campaign for President – as in, ‘enough with the Mr. Buttigieg, call me Pete.’ As in, ‘Mayor Pete’ is just an ordinary man with extraordinary dreams.

Some are calling him “an underdog story,” others, a “storybook fairytale.” There are articles about his dogs, as well as his love for beef jerky, Moleskine journals, and his Leatherman multi-tool.

Yup, just an ordinary dude from small-town Indiana looking to make it big.

Except … he’s not.

Mayor Pete’ is an alumni of Harvard and Oxford, his ‘ordinary man with big dreams’ really more of an Ivy League man with Ivy League dreams. He is the Mayor of South Bend, an out-of-the-way place in Indiana, until you remember it is home to the prestigious University of Notre Dame, as well as being the “best place to get rich” in the country.

Oh, and in between Ivy League and executive, ‘Mayor Pete’ worked at McKinsey & Co.

Don’t know McKinsey? They are by far the largest consulting firm in the world and their relevant history can be condensed into this nutshell:

“The most loathsome practices of U.S. corporations seem to have had their beginnings with consulting giant McKinsey & Co. From mass layoffs and outsourcing to runaway CEO pay — McKinsey wrote the white papers that sparked these trends.”

Another way to say it would be:

“McKinsey’s fingerprints can be found at the scene of some of the most spectacular corporate and financial debacles of recent decades.”

They worked with Enron before their collapse and advised nearly every major bank on Wall Street in favor of the dangerous practices which crashed the economy in 2008. More than one of their executives has been convicted of major crimes.

In some ways, ‘Mayor Pete’ is ordinary, just not in the way the narrative proclaims. He is ordinary for a person of his financial position, “class,” it used to be called – from the Ivy League, to a powerful consulting firm, to the belief he should be in charge of the country.

Which is just the point:

Donald Trump has campaigned and governed on this sort of ‘everyman’ character. He is vulgar and unapologetic; he speaks of coal mines and Midwestern factories and draining the swamp.

But he’s not an ‘everyman.’ He’s a guy who started life on third base and thought he hit a triple.

Similarly, Joe Biden’s ‘Scranton Joe’ persona is meant to establish his working-class credentials, despite, in actuality, his being a product of private schools, Ivy League colleges, and back-room power plays.

This is the question: Is the best we can hope for a rich dude pretending to be an ordinary person?

Is the best-case scenario a series of make-believe characters – ‘The Donald,’ ‘Scranton Joe,’ ‘Mayor Pete’ – who pretend to understand the concerns of people they’ve never associated with in their entire lives?

Here is a fun fact: While running for President in 2012, Mitt Romney said he “probably would bring in McKinsey” to consult his administration, that is, he would bring in the proprietors of “the most loathsome practices of U.S. corporations” to help run the country. Romney failed in his bid for the White House.

Enter Pete Buttigieg, ‘Mayor Pete,’ the New Coke, the iPhone 11, the limited-time offer with a catchy jingle. Enter a man ready to help corporate America bypass the middleman. Because why help run the government when you can … run the government.

Seems like people should probably consider cutting out their own middleman. Instead of somebody pretending to be an ordinary person, just have an actual ordinary person.

Or, you know … #MayorPete2020.

Quote of the Week:

Written by Nigel Clarke

Writer and notorious vagabond. From the frozen north. Follow Nigel on Twitter @Nig_Clarke.

Nigel Clarke is a Writer for Progressive Army.

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McKinsey Buttigieg