Buttigieg, the Trump of the Left
It is an interesting question if the zeal to find a savior is more a characteristic of western than eastern culture. Certainly, the leading world historical savior, who has prompted his followers to kill millions of people, including a lot of his other followers in arguments over how best to follow him, was the savior of the west, Jesus Christ, the Jew who founded the most common religion on earth at the moment. Eastern religions do not much produce saviors at all, and clearly none who can match the bloodthirsty, bloody-minded impact of the savior of the west.
In the modern west, the zeal to find a savior is more common among conservatives, both real ones and faux, U.S. ones, than it is among liberals, no doubt at least in part because hoping for a savior is an obviously irrational attitude and liberals are more likely to try to order their worlds according to principles that look rational and compatible with empirical evidence, neither of which conservatives much care about.
So, for a lot of “conservatives” in the United States, Donald Trump, with his absurd promise to “make America great again,” looked like a savior. Being a savior is nice work if you can get it. Since we don’t much crucify people these days, our new saviors are unlikely to die that way. But once one has achieved the status of savior, as Trump has demonstrated repeatedly, one can get away with being a vicious, mean spirited moron and one’s loyal followers will not object.
But liberals are not immune to the hope for a savior, especially in parlous times such as these, when the “conservative” savior du jour is busy ignoring and destroying virtually all of the institutions of government liberals built and nurtured for more than two centuries since their liberal revolution and adoption of their liberal Constitution.
It’s not clear how long his status as savior will last, but Pete Buttigieg, currently mayor of South Bend, Indiana, is the liberal savior du jour. In many respects, he is vastly different from Trump, but the two have in common that they suddenly leapt ahead of many far better qualified presidential candidates in their respective Parties just because they embody qualities the rank and file of those Parties admire. It is not irrelevant that “conservatives” admire a moronic, loud mouth billionaire who had, before running for president, exactly zero experience in public service, and still barely has any after two years of playing at being president, while liberals admire a well educated, well spoken man who currently holds public office, if only a mayoralty.
The similarity is more the psychological weakness of hoping for a savior that shows how both “conservatives” and liberals are yet members of the same species, whatever their other differences, than any similarities between the two candidates.
But we should still take our experience with Trump as an object lesson in the hazards of hoping for a savior.