South Bend, Indiana mayor and 2020 Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg unveiled an ambitious plan to address racial inequality on Thursday, a plan which calls for decriminalizing drugs and statehood for the District of Columbia, among other things.
Called “The Douglass Plan” in honor of abolitionist Frederick Douglass, the plan, which you can read in its entirety on Buttigieg’s website, is aimed at what Buttigieg calls “a comprehensive and intentional dismantling of racist structures and systems combined with an equally intentional and affirmative investment of unprecedented scale in the freedom and self-determination of Black Americans.”
The plan is divided into three sections: “Freedom,” “Security” and “Democracy.”
The Freedom section of the plan is intended to address disparities between blacks and whites in the areas of education, access to healthcare, and criminal justice reform.
The most ambitious part of the plan is aimed at criminal justice reform. Noting that blacks have a significantly higher incarceration rate than whites, Buttigieg wants to address the issues that lead to mass incarceration of blacks in the first place. Specifically, he wants to legalize marijuana at the federal level; do away with mandatory minimum sentences; reduce sentences (including retroactively) for drug crimes; and end prosecution for simple drug possession — a plan that essentially decriminalizes (but doesn’t legalize) all drugs.
Pete Buttigieg has a plan to counter racial inequality that includes:— WBUR (@WBUR) July 11, 2019
-$10B for black entrepreneurs
-$25B for historically black colleges
-expunging past drug convictions
-reducing prison population by half
-a new Voting Rights Acthttps://t.co/CZkkdQRsIO
The key to the “Security” portion of Buttigieg’s involves addressing the income gap between white and black Americans, through investment in black communities, and through removing the barriers that keep blacks from achieving wealth.
Specifically, Buttigieg wants to provide funds to help and encourage black entrepreneurs; to direct a percentage of federal contracts to businesses in underserved communities; to raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour; and to help blacks purchase homes, among other things.
The final portion of Buttigieg’s ambitious racial equality plan involves addressing the barriers between blacks and their representation in democracy. Specifically, Buttigieg wants to make it easier for blacks to vote, and to overturn recent efforts that Buttigieg claims deliberately exclude blacks from voting, such as voter I.D. laws.
Other aspects of the “Democracy” portion of the plan include statehood for Washington D.C., and abolishing the Electoral College, instead giving the job of president to the winner of the popular vote.
As Yahoo News reports, the timing of the release of the plan couldn’t have been better. Already Buttigieg has “dismal” poll numbers among black voters. What’s more, the matter of racial justice has entered the conversation in Pete’s home town of South Bend, Indiana; last month, a black citizen was shot dead by a white police officer, bringing to light existing racial tensions in the city.