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The Next American Outsider

The Next American Outsider

In the past three years, voters in the United States, France, Italy, Mexico, Brazil, and Pakistan have swept aside familiar candidates to elevate outsiders who promise to upend their countries' politics. As more and more Democrats announce plans to take on Donald Trump in 2020, who might fit the bill as the next American outsider?

Meet Peter Paul Montgomery Buttigieg, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana. Given the difficulties many have in pronouncing his family name—Buttigieg says it's pronounced Boot-edge-edge—supporters have taken to calling him "Mayor Pete."

Can he emerge from an increasingly crowded field of Democratic candidates? Both his poll numbers and the number of people donating to his campaign are on the rise. Last week, CNN called him the "hottest candidate in the 2020 race right now." This week, veteran election analyst Nate Silver profiled what he calls the "Buttigieg bump."

Who is this guy?

Buttigieg holds some positions considered standard for Democrats: He's one of more than 400 US mayors who signed a pact pledging to abide by the rules of the Paris climate accord after Trump pulled the US out of the agreement in 2017. He supports a pathway to citizenship for undocumented immigrants brought to the US illegally as children. He proposes a health care system based on expansion of Medicare—though without eliminating private insurance companies.

He shares a few opinions with Donald Trump: He blames the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) for job losses in midwestern states and says the US should withdraw troops from Afghanistan.

But they also have important differences: A former Rhodes Scholar who speaks multiple languages, he's as cerebral as Trump is anti-intellectual and as soft-spoken and outwardly modest as Trump is brash and aggressive.

Another difference: He has served in the military. His opinion of the war in Afghanistan is based on seven-months service there as a naval intelligence officer. If elected, he'd be the first US president to have served in any foreign war that began after World War II and the first veteran in the White House since George H. W. Bush left office in January 1993.

But there are also factors that make Mayor Pete a highly unusual presidential candidate:

  • He's 37 years old. If he won in 2020, he'd become the youngest person ever to serve as US president.
  • His political experience is limited to two terms as mayor of a town of 102,000 people.
  • He would be the first openly gay US president.

It'll be months before we learn whether Mayor Pete has staying power, but the attention he's now getting reminds us yet again that voters are drawn to candidates who appear to represent ground-breaking change.

Carbon has a bad rep, but did you know it's a building block of life? As atoms evolved, carbon trapped in CO2 was freed, giving way to the creation of complex molecules that use photosynthesis to convert carbon to food. Soon after, plants, herbivores, and carnivores began populating the earth and the cycle of life began.

Learn more about how carbon created life on Earth in the second episode of Eni's Story of CO2 series.

As we enter the homestretch of the US presidential election — which is set to be the most contentious, and possibly contested, in generations — Americans are also voting on 35 seats up for grabs in a battle for the control of the Senate. The 100-member body is currently held 53-47 by the Republican Party, but many individual races are wide open, and the Democrats are confident they can flip the upper chamber of Congress.

Either way, the result will have a profound impact not only on domestic policy, but also on US foreign relations and other issues with global reach. Here are a few areas where what US senators decide reverberates well beyond American shores.

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On September 23, GZERO Media — in partnership with Microsoft and Eurasia Group — gathered global experts to discuss global recovery from the coronavirus pandemic in a livestream panel. Our panel for the discussion Crisis Response & Recovery: Reimagining while Rebuilding, included:

  • Brad Smith, President, Microsoft
  • Ian Bremmer, President and Founder, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media
  • Jeh Johnson, Partner, Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison, LLP and former Secretary of Homeland Security.
  • John Frank, Vice President, UN Affairs at Microsoft
  • Susan Glasser, staff writer and Washington columnist, The New Yorker (moderator)

Special appearances by UN Secretary-General António Guterres, European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde, and comedian/host Trevor Noah.

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Jon Lieber, who leads Eurasia Group's coverage of political and policy developments in Washington, offers insights on the Supreme Court vacancy:

Will Senate Republicans, who stopped a Supreme Court nomination in 2016, because it was too close to an election, pay a political price for the change in tactics this time around?

Not only do I think they won't pay a political price, I think in many cases, they're going to benefit. Changing the balance of power on the Supreme Court has been a career-long quest for many conservatives and many Republicans. And that's why you've seen so many of them fall in line behind the President's nomination before we even know who it is.

At this point, do Senate Democrats have any hope of stopping President Trump from filling the ninth seat on the Supreme Court?

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In a special GZERO Media livestream on global response and recovery amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Eurasia Group & GZERO Media president Ian Bremmer discussed the difference between Europe's unified approach to economic stimulus and the deeply divided and political nature of the current conversation in the US. While initial stimulus support was bipartisan, there is little chance of Democrats and Republicans coming together again ahead of the November 3 presidential election. "It's red state versus blue state. President Trump's saying that coronavirus isn't so bad if you take the blue states out. He's president of the blue states, you can't take the blue states out," Bremmer told moderator Susan Glasser of The New Yorker.

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Panel: How will the world recover from COVID-19?

UNGA Livestream