Democratic presidential candidate and South Bend, Indiana, Mayor Pete Buttigieg announced a new proposal Thursday to dismantle what Buttigieg calls “racist structures and systems” in the federal government.
The 37-year-old mayor unveiled the proposal he refers to as the “Douglass Plan,” named after famed abolitionist and former slave Frederick Douglass, on National Public Radio’s “Morning Edition.” The plan demands a new voting rights act and pushing for large, racially focused federal spending increases in education, health and homeownership.
Buttigieg wants to establish a $10 billion fund specifically for black entrepreneurs drawn out over a period of five years and to spend $25 billion more on historically black colleges. The “Douglass Plan” also seeks to reduce the U.S. prison population by federally legalizing marijuana, abolishing mandatory minimums, and eliminating federal incarceration for those convicted of drug possession. The plan also seeks to reduce sentences for other drug crimes and the expunging of past drug convictions.
Buttigieg also reaffirmed his commitment in the plan to toss out the Electoral College through a constitutional amendment and determine the president through national popular vote.
“This is a restoration,” Buttigieg said of the plan on NPR. “It is trying to address generational harms and specific intentional theft that took place.”
Buttigieg has been an avid supporter of taxpayer-provided payouts to current descendants of those enslaved in the United States more than 150 years ago. The two-term mayor made clear in the 18-page proposal that the “Douglass Plan” would be implemented in addition to reparations for slavery.
“The Douglass Plan, which is a complement to any potential reparations proposals, aims to provide the scale and scope necessary for true nationwide restorative justice,” the proposal states.
Buttigieg has been severely struggling to garner support among African-Americans in the polls and has recently faced tough criticism of his handling of race-related issues in his home town of South Bend.
Last month, Buttigieg suspended his campaign for a few days to deal with protests erupting in his community after a white police officer shot and killed a black man. The event cast a spotlight on Buttigieg’s record dealing with issues of race, putting the candidate on defense during last month’s presidential debates. In those debates, he acknowledged shortcomings in his city’s hiring of minority police officers.
“We’ve taken so many steps toward police accountability, you know, that the [Fraternal Order of Police] just denounced me for too much accountability,” Buttigieg declared on the Miami stage. “We’re obviously not there yet. And I accept responsibility for that because I’m in charge.”
While Buttigieg’s poll numbers according to Real Clear Politics’ latest aggregate of polls puts the Midwestern mayor in the top tier of candidates at around 5 percent, his support among African-Americans remains dismal. A recent poll conducted by Reuters and Ipsos released last week failed to find any “measurable support” for Buttigieg among African-Americans, a vital voting block for any candidate to win on the way to the Democratic presidential nomination.