I like Beto O’Rourke. Sure, I have questions and doubts about him, but that shouldn’t be construed as opposition. If he’s nominated by the Democrats, I’ll vote for him. I’ll even give him a look while I’m considering my primary candidate right now. He’s an impressively talented campaigner, he’s got some charisma, and he’s motivating some people.
There’s something rather Bernie-esque though about his support. No, I’m not just talking about the $6.1 million he raised in his first day in the race either. I’ve heard people compare him to RFK, and even say he’s a better speaker than Obama. Commentators have said he creates “the greatest contrast” with Trump. I’ve had friends tell me he’s “the only way” to move the country forward. Hell, even Beto has pronounced that he was “born to run.” There’s some heavy destiny talk happening here. The only other candidate I hear talked about like that by his people? Bernie Sanders.
Let me pour a little cold water on all of this- as great as Beto is, he did lose the 2018 U.S. Senate race in Texas to a deeply unpopular Ted Cruz (over 10% under-water approval), in the greatest Democratic year since Watergate. Sure, Abraham Lincoln lost the 1858 Senate race in Illinois, so I’ll give Beto a singular pass there, even though I’m not totally buying the Lincoln comparison with anyone. Part of Beto’s appeal is his normalcy, which I like, but it means he comes with a checkered past- like any real person. I do like what I hear from him too, but he needs a lot more substance yet to keep up with this field. He’s a talented candidate, but he ran a very unorthodox campaign in 2018, and came up short. Perhaps he would have won if he done some of the more traditional “blocking and tackling” of a campaign. Again, he’s very talented, but not perfect.
Now look, I’m a white, straight, Catholic male, and I’m willing to vote for a white guy for any office (if I agree with them), but I do think it’s fair to ask the question- why is it only white dudes getting the “Messiah” treatment from their supporters right now? I’m not saying it’s always limited to white guys (This happened at times with President Obama in 2008, although to be fair, he lived up to more of the hype than I then expected), but it seems to be that way a lot. Berners think he’s politics version of Luke Skywalker despite his many flaws that prohibit him from winning over many of us. I’m hearing some of the same sounds from Betotes now.
This is far less a criticism of Beto himself, who I’m generally more favorable than not about, and more of a commentary on white liberals and progressives and their hero worship. In 17 years in politics, I have never met or seen a perfect politician. Bill Clinton had his infidelity, Barack Obama his naivety on Republican opposition, and Hillary had her campaign’s strategic mistakes. I supported all three of them, and would again, but I don’t argue their infallibility. For some though, they think their “great white hope” is the savior we need. It’s just weird to me. You’re electing a person, not a God. These guys ain’t Gods.