…The Iraq War, unpopular among Buttigieg’s college peers, was raging with no end in sight.
…One of Buttigieg’s friends from Oxford [said] …They were eager …to find like-minded progressives who were not “content with the ‘Clinton Third Way’ status quo that had defined the Democratic Party for basically our lifetimes.”
The Third Way refers to the moderate Democratic politics of the Bill Clinton era that sought to reconcile centrist economic ideas with progressive social ideas.
…[They believed] the Clinton model had failed their generation. And …[they] was searching for a way out of that centrism.
…The future presidential candidate joined friends to create an informal group with a mission: rebuild the Democratic Party that had suffered from repeated election losses.
…They called themselves members of the Democratic Renaissance Project.
…Buttigieg’s friends are a high-achieving crew: They now work at elite universities, law firms and hedge funds. …Most declined to be interviewed on the record for this story. …They didn’t want to discuss campaign politics given their professional ties.
…These brainy, young Ivy League-educated students wanted to live in a better country, it seemed [to them] they had to fix it themselves.
…”After almost eight years of George W. Bush, a lot of us were feeling like the country was almost unrecognizable.”
Sometimes the group would circulate writings by modern day political theorists about citizenship or progressive values.
…Buttigieg felt there was a faulty theory circulating among Democrats — an assumption that in order to win elections they had to contort their values, work within the Republican framework and put a conservative spin on their message.
“There had been a smallness to the aspirations of our own party,” Buttigieg said. “Because it felt like all those years, the whole first decade of this century, it felt like all that Democrats were doing was responding to Republicans.”
…Buttigieg said he was frustrated during the Bush years that the GOP seemed to have a monopoly on family, patriotism and morality. He felt like his party was focused on policy, and he wanted them to think more about values and philosophy.
“A big part of what we were doing was studying the right,” Buttigieg explained. “One of the things that we had noticed was that it was actually the American right wing that had built the strongest relationship between kind of ideas and politics.”
…When Buttigieg began his presidential campaign, he suggested some radical changes such as scrapping the Electoral College and reforming the Supreme Court. Now that he’s seen as a more viable candidate, he’s not as vocal about those ideas.