In the summer of 2007, when American forces were mired in Iraq and our country was deeply divided at home, I announced my support for a young leader who promised change, looked to the future, and inspired America to meet its highest ideals.
As a first-term congressman from a historically Republican district — and the first Iraq War veteran to serve in Congress — I bucked the conventional wisdom and was the first member of the Pennsylvania delegation to endorse a young senator named Barack Obama. I was even prouder to go on to become President Obama’s under secretary and acting secretary of the Army, where I had the awesome responsibility to help transform the United States Army to be more innovative and responsive in the face of 21st century threats.
Today, our nation remains entangled in endless wars abroad and in a battle for our soul here at home. At this challenging time, I am once again proud to stand alongside a promising young leader from the heartland who intuitively understands what it takes to win the next election and usher in a future where we can both succeed and live up to our highest ideals. That is why I’m supporting fellow combat veteran Pete Buttigieg for president.
In some ways, Pete and I are different. He’s a Navy veteran and Rhodes Scholar, whereas I’m an Army vet from northeast Philly who got my start at community college. As an Army paratrooper, I never would have imagined I’d be saying a kind word about a Navy lieutenant. But from the moment I met him several years ago, it was clear Pete was the kind of steady and visionary leader our times demand.
Pete’s leadership was forged by combat. His foreign policy experience comes not from attending a committee hearing or a Washington cocktail party, but firsthand from behind the wheel of an armored vehicle in Afghanistan. That’s one of the reasons why I believe Pete is the candidate best prepared to bring an end to our endless war.
Unlike President Trump, who has torched our credibility and tarnished our values, Pete appreciates why the United States must work closely with our allies around the world. I’m confident that he will promote American interests and American values abroad. And I appreciate he’s put forth a call to action for national service here at home that will bring together young Americans through the baptism of service that we both experienced when we were deployed overseas.
Pete is also deeply committed to upholding the rule of law and repairing our democracy. As a former prosecutor and West Point law professor, I grimace when the president disregards our democratic institutions and downplays attacks on our elections. As the Russians continue to interfere in our democracy, I’m confident a President Buttigieg won’t laugh it up with Vladimir Putin — he’ll take him head on. He will fight for a fairer and more inclusive democracy, tackling the corrosive impact of money in politics, reforming our hopelessly politicized Supreme Court, and ensuring that in states like ours in Pennsylvania, voters will pick their politicians instead of the other way around.
As a mayor from the Midwest, Pete has experienced up close the challenges facing our country. He’s seen what happens when our communities are devastated by misguided trade policies or the scourge of opioids. He’s an executive who’s tackled those problems in courageous and creative ways. Whether it’s tearing down 1,000 vacant homes in 1,000 days or bringing jobs and investments back to South Bend, Pete has shown a hands-on leadership style, bringing people together — black and white, Republican and Democrat — to transform a community.
Above all, Pete offers a new generation of leadership. As a member of the most diverse generation in American history, Pete has lived the challenges of this coming era, from the carnage of gun violence in our schools, churches and synagogues, to the growing threat of climate change. He cares deeply about issues like declining economic opportunity because he and our generation will be the ones bearing the brunt of the decisions we make today and tomorrow. Pete understands we cannot keep kicking the can down the road or trying the same failed policies. He will bring a fundamentally new and different approach to fix our broken political and economic system.
A few months ago, I sat in a Bristol church pew beaming with pride at my son Jack’s first Holy Communion. I prayed for him, his sister Maggie, and our country during one of the most defining moments in our history. But to ensure that their future is bright, I’ll be doing more than praying — I’ll be standing shoulder-to-shoulder with my fellow combat vet Pete Buttigieg in 2020.
Patrick J. Murphy was the 32nd under secretary of the U.S. Army and former U.S. congressman for the First Congressional District of Pennsylvania. He is the co-founder of Kennedy Democrats and can be reached via social media at @PatrickMurphyPA.
Editor’s note: This is an Op-Ed and as such, the opinions expressed are those of the author. If you would like to respond, or have an editorial of your own you would like to submit, please contact Military Times managing editor Howard Altman, firstname.lastname@example.org.