Words by David Marulanda
Illustrations by Katie Herchenroeder
On Saturday, March 30th, Robert Francis O’Rourke will held a rally in El Paso to launch his campaign for president. Earlier this month on the 14th, he announced his candidacy for the Democratic nomination for President of the United States via Twitter. If the name does not ring a bell, it’s because he is more commonly referred to as Beto O’Rourke, a name that made national headlines in the 2018 elections when he ran against incumbent Ted Cruz for Senate in Texas.
O’Rourke ran a grassroots campaign, refusing super PAC money and harnessing social media to reach and motivate young Texans. The Beto movement focused on door to door campaigning, creating the image of a man of the people for the Columbia University graduate. While the former congressman did not defeat Senator Cruz, it was a close race by all indications. He received celebrity endorsements from big names such as Beyoncé and LeBron James.
O’Rourke has a charismatic aura in addition to policies that appeal to young liberals in Texas and across the country. He has gone on record as a proponent of LGBTQ+ rights, marijuana legalization, immigration reform, criminal justice reform, especially with regard to drug offenses, and universal background checks for guns. His stance on issues such as universal healthcare is not clear, or at least how he plans to make it happen. He has spoken in favor of it, but has not offered details.
However, Beto O’Rourke does not have the experience or political clout as some of his Democratic adversaries, such as Bernie Sanders, Kamala Harris, or Elizabeth Warren. He does have an electric personality and during his 2018 campaign showed a gift for fundraising. If his past behavior is any indication, O’Rourke seems primed to run a tech savvy digital grassroots campaign with more focus on his personal magnetism than on concrete policies. He is often liked by young, college democrats – such as CCNY’s age.
Moreover, his campaign’s official website does not offer even a single word on his platform, policies, and opinions, which is counterintuitive to the aforementioned digital presence.
There is also the matter of the skeletons in O’Rourke’s closet that are likely to come out during campaign season. He has been arrested for trespassing and driving under the influence of alcohol, for which he was not charged and entered a court ordered rehabilitation program, respectively. He did nothing noteworthy during his time in the United States House of Representatives, but if people want outsiders to drain the Washington swamp, this liberal former punk rocker might be the fresh face Democrats are looking for.