Themes

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Last Updated on August 19, 2019, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 414

Articulating Presidential Qualities

It is no coincidence that Mayor Pete Buttigieg's memoir, Shortest Way Home, was published the same year he announced that he would run as a Democratic Party candidate for the 2020 presidential election. The timeliness of the publication itself is part of the book's primary themes: Buttigieg's political career. The book chronicles Buttigieg's background in the corporate world and in the United States armed forces. His financial background as a price strategist for a major firm highlights his ability to analyze the market and illustrates his financial intelligence. His military background shows that he had served the country as a soldier and can step up to the plate as a president in times of international crisis. The book then highlights his campaigns as a mayor and his office's success. More intimately, Buttigieg reveals his individual challenges as a young politician in the Midwest who has served under the heat of the spotlight as the media began to take notice.

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Commitment to Economic Rejuvenation in Areas of Financial Decline

The central narrative of the memoir is Buttigieg's initiative to revitalize his city's economy. South Bend, Indiana, is inside the Rust Belt and has subsequently been in decline since the national economy has shifted away from its once-prominent industrialism. Buttigieg, in addressing this challenge, uses his background in the corporate world and the lessons he learned in the private sector in order to catalyze urban regeneration.

The book portrays Buttigieg as a modern folk hero: a boy from the Midwest who used innovative strategies to revitalize his hometown. This section of the book also gives a macrocosmic view of the American economy, including how many Midwestern cities became economically stagnant due to the 2008 financial crisis.

Overcoming Adversity in Personal and Professional Life

Buttigieg talks intimately about his struggles in his professional capacities as a politician and a soldier as well as in his personal experience of gender and sexuality. He is one of the few gay politicians to ever serve as mayor, and this has frequently caused him pain in the political world—especially in the denunciations served by his conservative critics, who use his sexuality as a means to attack him. Likewise, during his combat duty, he struggled with the hypermasculine culture of the armed forces; his book details some of the flaws in the system that poorly serve service members who are part of the LGBTQ+ community. Buttigieg articulates his personal struggles both in and outside of the political arena to offer wisdom to readers.

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