Beto O’Rourke’s audacity of hope

Don’t get me wrong. I really like Beto O’Rourke. I like his youthfulness, his energy, his straight-talking commitment to American values. But I think it’s a mistake for him to run for president.

Instead, the former Texas congressmen, who narrowly failed to oust Ted Cruz in the 2018 senate election, should have run for something else — perhaps the state senate. He should have done something rather than just been a presidential candidate, which is hard enough anyway.

There are three reasons to be dismayed by Mr O’Rourke’s March 14 announcement he’s joining the crowded (15 people counting him) 2020 Democratic presidential election race.

  1. It seems too audacious for words. Consider what Mr O’Rourke is known for. He ran — and lost — the race for the US Senate. Okay, so he ran a good race against Mr Cruz, expanded the Democratic voter base in Texas and allowed a red state to see a Democrat as a viable candidate for the first time in decades. But ultimately, Beto, as he’s generally known, lost. If he couldn’t win the race to be Texas senator, one might wonder how he’ll triumph in 50 states.

As Associated Press writes: if he won the presidency, Beto “would be the first U.S. politician to do so since Abraham Lincoln lost his Senate bid to Stephen Douglas in Illinois in 1858, then was elected president two years later.”

  1. Is he getting too impressed with himself? One has to wonder if Beto is getting carried away by the buzz that has surrounded most of what he’s done since the senate run. He’s an Annie Leibovitz Vanity Fair cover. Joe Hagan, who wrote the story, describes Beto’s desire to run for president as follows:

“Beto O’Rourke seems like a cliff diver trying to psych himself into the jump. And after playing coy all afternoon about whether he’ll run, he finally can’t deny the pull of his own gifts. ‘You can probably tell that I want to run,” he finally confides, smiling. “I do. I think I’d be good at it.’ …

“The more he talks, the more he likes the sound of what he’s saying. ‘I want to be in it,’ he says, now leaning forward. ‘Man, I’m just born to be in it, and want to do everything I humanly can for this country at this moment’.”

It sounds a bit like a movie.

  1. What has he really done to be elected president? The question is important. For all Beto’s gifts, his openness, his charm, the sense he’s a bit like Robert Kennedy, he does have to demonstrate why I should vote for him. (That said, Donald Trump never did anything to be elected president, but then I didn’t vote for him either.)

Originally published at on March 14, 2019.

PhD. Journalism by trade & inclination. Sign up for free email updates on email me at

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