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Pete Buttigieg warns Democrats against using ‘identity politics’

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Mayor Pete Buttigieg of South Bend, Indiana, called for unity and rebuked his own political party for using “identity politics” to divide Americans during a speech to LGBTQ activists on Saturday.

Buttigieg argued that President Donald Trump and his party have exploited “the most divisive form of such politics, which is white identity politics,” and that Democrats should use the diversity in Americans’ personal stories to unite people, rather then categorize and divide them.

“It is true that each of us could see in our own identity all the reasons we’re misunderstood and then say, ‘You don’t understand me because you haven’t walked in my shoes’ — something that is true, as far as it goes, but it doesn’t get us very far,” Buttigieg told a friendly gathering of LGBTQ rights activists hosted by the Human Rights Campaign.

The 37-year-old — who is the first openly gay major presidential candidate — argued that voters shouldn’t be asked to choose between supporting the interests of a trans woman of color and an unemployed auto worker — and that their interests are intertwined.

Read more: Pete Buttigieg is trying to overcome terrible poll numbers among minorities and win over black voters in the South

“We have a crisis of belonging in this country,” he said, citing various forms of discrimination and exclusion targeting very different groups of people. “These divisive lines of thinking have even entered into the consciousness of my own party.”

Buttigieg made the case that his own experience coming out as gay while serving in elected office in a deep red state has energized his desire to “build bridges” rather than reinforce divisions.

“The wall I worry about the most is not the president’s fantasy wall on the Mexican border that’s not going to get built anyway,” Buttigieg said. “What I worry about are the very real walls being put up between us as we get divided and carved up.”

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