I had high hopes for Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke in 2018. I thought he was a progressive going up against Senator Ted Cruz, one of the most unlikeable politicians in the country. Beto was advocating for an end to money in politics and Medicare-for-all. I was encouraged by his interview with The Young Turks. He started gaining traction, receiving plenty of small dollar donors. I was happy to see that viral video of him defending NFL players that protest police brutality. Then, something happened last summer. He began backtracking on healthcare. He broke a pledge to not take oil money. He apologized for using the term, “Lyin’ Ted”, when that was a great weapon to use against his opponent. Then he LOST to Cruz. I was surely disappointed in him, but that was only the tip of the iceberg. Beto’s record was eventually detailed by David Sirota in this report.
Turns out Beto was never really that progressive. Here is an excerpt from that article:
Capital & Main reviewed the 167 votes O’Rourke has cast in the House in opposition to the majority of his own party during his six-year tenure in Congress. Many of those votes were not progressive dissents alongside other left-leaning lawmakers, but instead votes to help pass Republican-sponsored legislation. O’Rourke has voted for GOP bills that his fellow Democratic lawmakers said reinforced Republicans’ anti-tax ideology, chipped away at the Affordable Care Act (ACA), weakened Wall Street regulations, boosted the fossil fuel industry and bolstered Donald Trump’s immigration policy.
Consumer, environmental, public health and civil rights organizations have cast legislation backed by O’Rourke as aiding big banks, undermining the fight against climate change and supporting Trump’s anti-immigrant agenda. During the previous administration, Barack Obama’s White House issued statements slamming two GOP bills backed by the 46-year-old Democratic legislator.
So my perception of Beto O’Rourke evolved into this: a less charismatic white Obama with a skateboard. His announcement video was filled with clichés and platitudes that I believe most people are sick of hearing.
I couldn’t give you an analysis of his policy platform, because he currently doesn’t have one. If his record is any indication, he is progressive on gay rights and pro-choice, and centrist with all other issues. No different from your average establishment Democrat.
Can he win the nomination?
It all depends on if he keeps that nice small-donor base from his Senate run. My hypothesis is that he doesn’t as many of those supporters assumed he was a progressive like Bernie Sanders. Beto will likely draw from the same wealthy donors shared by Kamala Harris, Joe Biden, Cory Booker, Kirsten Gillibrand, etc. He has a no-PAC policy, but of course he is still open to large individual contributions from Big Oil and others. Some low-information voters may come to him as a young, energetic counter to Donald Trump, including those wacky centrists in the party. His main obstacle early on will be to jump ahead of Biden and Harris as the establishment pick. Beto is wary of going on the offense, so I have my doubts about his viability against the confident, folksy Biden and former prosecutor Harris. In order to survive past Super Tuesday, he needs more than his home state of Texas. I remember what happened to John Kasich in 2016… he won his state of Ohio and quickly dropped out thereafter. Beto has a shot in the Iowa and Nevada caucuses, as their format could work well with his strength as a door-to-door campaigner. But before any of this, he needs to have some darn policies!
Can he win in the general?
This is tough for me. On one hand, I can’t imagine Beto could inspire voters to the polls like Bernie Sanders or Barack Obama could. On the other hand, I have noticed polls showing that the Midwest is actually starting to sour on Trump now. I gave some states to Beto, but Ohio and Pennsylvania have had a longer trend towards the conservative side when compared to the other parts of the Midwest. I put here that Trump barely wins… but it could just as easily be that Beto barely wins.
Sigh, anyways… did I mention that he live streamed a dental exam!? Why would you do that!?
Originally published at themillenniview.com on March 15, 2019.