By Sarah Cowgill
Positioning himself as a political maverick of sorts, the former congressman from Texas, Robert “Beto” O’Rourke, is tossing his cap into the Democratic presidential primary field. The declaring hopefuls include a variety of politicians, government cronies, one tech entrepreneur, and one spiritual guru who claims to be a “bitch for God” – and they’re all hellbent on sending President Trump packing.
O’Rourke’s announcement marks 16 candidates running with another dozen or so high-profile Swamp rats weighing their options. An eerily familiar situation, flipped in reverse of 2016, as then candidate Trump dominated the largest field of candidates the Republican Party had seen in 100 years – the previous record of 17 vying at the 1916 Republican convention.
As famed baseball icon, Yogi Berra, once said, “it’s déjà vu all over again.”
Does Beto have the cajones to whittle away at the likes of Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) or former Vice President Joe Biden – both who have a huge lead in the race so far, impressive war chests and national name recognition, and, seemingly, unlimited grassroots support?
Well, Beto thinks he does, as he told Vanity Fair, “I’m just born to do this.” And that is why he may just be the wildcard to upset the status quo.
But Does He Stand a Snowball’s Chance?
Beto rose to superstardom with Democrats in 2018 when he challenged incumbent Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX). He lost, but in the process was successful in raising $80 million in campaign donations and snagging a healthy amount of national press coverage.
His almost Kennedy-like appearance and quick, toothy smile, didn’t hurt either.
But can he harness the energy and excitement of 2018 and multiply ad nauseum to a national winner-takes-all race? There is where our friend from El Paso may struggle.
Beto sat around too long contemplating his loss, holding tiny, angry rallies in Texas to challenge Trump’s massive appeal on the border, and well, he moped. We know this because Beto, in the scant few months from his stinging defeat to when he realized he was “born to do this,” took a road trip – to think, or so it appears. But while ambling through the majestic landscapes of the American west, he admitted that he was “stuck lately. In and out of a funk.”
No one, not even the Democrats, want a moody presidential contender.
So far, all anyone knows of Beto is his anti-Trump stance. He’s an open borders guy who believes his slice of Heaven in El Paso is paradise – one without drug smuggling, human trafficking, or illegals with criminal intentions. Beto is a proponent of term limits, which is why he said in 2016 he wouldn’t vote for Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) to reclaim the gavel and Speaker of the House title.
But beyond the anti-Trump rhetoric, Beto’s platform is the same as every other announced Democratic candidate: free healthcare for everyone, fewer resources for security on the southern border, legalizing marijuana, and saving the world from climate change Armageddon.
He maybe a cookie cutter socialist Democrat, but he has two strikes against his beanpole frame:
- He’s a man.
- White privilege.
It appears that Democratic Party wants a woman of color – any color but white, that is – followed by a man of color, same criteria. The DNC desires stark contrast when comparing the Republican incumbent with their chosen challenger.
What their constituency want is anyone’s guess, as Sanders, an old, male, pasty white one percenter (not beloved by the DNC) is leading in the polls by a wide margin over another wealthy, old white guy, Biden, who suffers from terminal foot in mouth disease.
Politicians are notoriously slow learners. The Republicans offered up who they believed they could control to carry on the Bush dynasty, namely, former Governor Mitt Romney (R-MA) and dearly departed Sen. John McCain of Arizona, both of whom failed epically against former President Barack Obama.
The tables turned in 2016, as Democrats tried their luck at cramming a horrible, unpopular woman down the throats of their voters when most were riding on Bernie’s magic carpet.
But pols continue to tilt at the windmills when it comes to understanding and rising to the occasion of the electorate’s wants and needs – and that usually results in a simmering rage that boils over when left unattended for a term or two.
Voters knows precisely what they want and, more importantly, what they don’t want. Just as in the 1972 Democratic presidential primaries, where 16 men stood poised to take on sitting incumbent President Richard Nixon, anything can and will happen. Senator Edmund Muskie (D-ME), the inside establishment favorite, was accused of bigotry against Americans of French-Canadian heritage. The assault compelled Muskie to deliver a speech in front of the newspaper’s office in defense – which would be awesome had he not bawled like a newborn calf, skittering support to greener, less emotional pastures.
Like Muskie, Beto loves an audience and livestreams or blogs pretty much his entire day for all the world to see. We know who his dentist is, where his kids attend school, and that he has had a rough couple of months in a “funk.”
Can he rise to the occasion and snark at Sen. Kamala Harris (D-CA) and call out her sad blue state performance record without losing his charming demeanor? Maybe. Will he be able to snidely and derisively attack Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) for self-identifying as Spartacus? No. Or will he stick to the same old message of Trump sucks and must be dealt with while patting Bernie on the head as if he were a doddering old grandad?