Democratic presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg said Friday that he supports renaming buildings or events named after former President Thomas Jefferson. He claims it is the “right thing to do.”
The Democratic mayor of South Bend, Indiana, appeared on “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” where he was asked if the annual Democratic dinners should be changed, as they include the name of two slave-owning presidents, Thomas Jefferson and Andrew Jackson.
“Yeah, we’re doing that in Indiana. I think it’s the right thing to do,” Buttigieg said in the interview.
Democrats started supporting the name change in 2016, The Washington Free Beacon reported. Although it was previously named the Jefferson-Jackson dinner, Indiana Democrats instead decided to call it the Hoosier Hospitality Dinner and are bringing the name back for a fundraiser meeting in Indianapolis this June.
They claim the name is supposed to emphasize the difference between the Democratic and Republican Party, according to Indiana’s Tribune-Star, as they do not want to be associated with Vice President Mike Pence.
“We knew, when we were thinking about this dinner, that we’d been pushing to restore Hoosier hospitality,” Democratic Party spokesman Drew Anderson said about the renamed dinner in 2016. “We want to reclaim it as the image for our state, especially after what Mike Pence has done.”
Elsewhere, other Democrats are making moves to distance themselves from the previous moniker. Connecticut, Georgia, Missouri and Iowa renamed the dinner in 2016, while others are now taking part in the trend.
Robert Dion, a political scientist at the University of Evansville, is not supportive of the change. “When Democrats come together, that is the name of their event, and it’s been that way for decades. To change the name of their signature event, across the country as the party is doing, can’t go without notice,” he said.
Although Indiana Democrats said that the Hoosier change “isn’t directly linked” to Jefferson’s history of slave owning, the Tribune-Star reported, Buttigieg certainly backed the move for that reason.
“Over time, you develop and evolve on the things you choose to honor,” the Indiana mayor said.
“Jefferson’s more problematic,” Buttigieg added. “There’s a lot to, of course, admire in his thinking and his philosophy, but then again if you plunge into his writings, especially the notes on the state of Virginia, you know that he knew slavery was wrong.”
While saying that we are all “morally conflicted human beings,” Buttigieg claims he does not want the iconic president erased from history but still supports renaming events and buildings that formerly held his name.
“The real reason I think there is a lot of pressure on this is the relationship between the past and present that we’re finding in a million different ways that racism isn’t some curiosity out of the past that we’re embarrassed about but moved on from,” Buttigieg said.
Buttigieg went on to say that racism is still “alive” and “well” today.
“It’s one of the main reasons to be in politics today is to try to change or reverse the harms that went along with that,” he said.
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