Man Wihtout a Purpose

4 November 2019


Cogito Ergo Non Serviam

O'Rourke Ends Presidential Bid


Beto O'Rourke withdrew from the presidential race a couple of days ago. Once the flavor of the month with the great and good of the Democratic Party and the grassroots, his campaign never really got off the ground. The reason for this lack of traction is simple. There was no real reason for him to be running. He likes campaigning. He is pretty good at it. But there was not driving purpose to his candidacy. He's far from unique here.

Back in 1979, Senator Ted Kennedy was weighing his candidacy for the White House, taking on sitting President Jimmy Carter. A Kennedy always gets attention in Democratic Party politics. A US senator does as well. So, he had instant credibility, and he had plenty of media attention. Then, Roger Mudd of CBS News asked the question that would eventually kill the campaign. "Why do you want to be president?" That softball question resulted in a rambling answer about believing in America, a country with more natural resources than any place on Earth, the best educated population and so on. He talked about how America was coming up short on inflation and unemployment, but he never actually said, "I would do X, Y and Z." Mr. Carter won the nomination.

Beto O'Rourke is also an ambitious Irish-American who identifies with the working class. He almost took out Ted Cruz in the latest Texas race for the US Senate, and he had been a three-term Congressman from El Paso. He was great at talking about an inclusive, outward-looking America. But as to why the country needed him specifically, he had nothing.

Nathan Robinson wrote in the Guardian, "The Vanity Fair profile in which Beto debuted his national run was full of personal details about his life, such as his reading habits and his love of punk rock, but he didn't say much about what he wanted to do as president, beyond having the United States 'lead the world'."

Compare that to the top three candidates. Joe Biden is running for president as a restoration of the Obama Administration. Bernie Sanders is running to make the US a socialist nation like Sweden. Elizabeth Warren has no fewer than 54 plans that explain why she is running, and how she will pay for it all.

Mr. O'Rourke did find a cause in August when a racist drove 10 hours to El Paso, his home town, and murdered some people at Walmart. Suddenly, the young Texas discovered gun control as a campaign issue. The trouble was that he over-sold the idea; claiming that "hell yes" he would take away everyone's AR-15. Worse, Congressman Eric Swalwell of California had run on that issue, and he had to quit the race in July due to lack of money and voter interest.

This lack of purpose showed in O'Rourke's lack of organization. As CNN noted, "The man who had been a back-bench congressman with no expectations of a political future outside of El Paso less than two years ago had barely begun to build the sort of organization it would take to sustain a serious presidential campaign." It's organization that gets people elected, and a reason to win is what attracts the pros.

Mr. O'Rourke is probably not done in politics. There are seats in Texas he could win, and if the Democrats take the White House in 2020, a cabinet position would be an easy sell. There's even an argument that he would make a decent running-mate for the eventual nominee, depending on ideology and geography (Sanders-O'Rourke?).

For now, though, he is out of a race he really had no business being in.

© Copyright 2019 by The Kensington Review, Jeff Myhre, PhD, Editor. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written consent. Produced using Ubuntu Linux.

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