‘I might as well do it’: Prez hopeful Pete Buttigieg talks in Queens about the risk of being progressive

Photo: Mark Hallum/QNS

During an appearance at Long Island City’s LaGuardia Community College on Wednesday, presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg offered his perspectives on national issues that could benefit New Yorkers.

Buttigieg championed universal healthcare, implementing grants to ease the burden of student loans and overhauling the public education system in America.

Although the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, only governs a town of 100,000 in a red state, Buttigieg sees nothing to lose in progressive views.

“No matter what I do, they’re going to call us crazy socialists, so I might as well do it,” he explained.

Using Obamacare as an example, which he described as “conservative” policy, Buttigieg claimed to do anything with healthcare may result in being called a far left-wing voice.

For bringing relief to Americans who owe sometimes up to six figures in student loans, Buttigieg does not see the crisis as advanced enough to call for cancellation of debt. Instead, he would open up access to grants in a big way and make public education less expensive.

“I’m leery about how you do that in a way that’s fair to the people who have been struggling for a long time or have just paid [student loan debt] off,” Buttigieg said. “We need to make sure education is affordable and accessible for everybody.”

Buttigieg sees education not only has something that needs to be accessible to all, but as system that needs an overhaul after over a century on essentially the same template. Critical thinking and emotional intelligence are going to be more important than simple knowledge in the future, he said.

“Step one: get a secretary of education that believes in all kids getting an education,” Buttigieg said. “There’s no question that there’s a lot of stuff we could do to modernize education. The workforce is changing and our relationship to knowledge is changing. A lot of educational practices were designed in the 19th century to teach college. But now, more and more knowledge is at our fingers.”

Buttigieg also advocated for teacher pay raises.

Buttigieg was in Long Island City for what Congressman Gregory Meeks called the first in a series of “Queens Fireside Chats” with 2020 presidential candidates, and led this first discussion with NY1 anchor Cheryl Wills.

More from Around New York