8 Reasons Not to Sleep on Beto O'Rourke

I don’t know about you, but I was pretty shocked when Beto O’Rourke announced his candidacy for President of the United States last week. I only learned about the guy back in November—sorry, I’m not a Texan!—and even then, I only heard about him because of his infamous loss to incumbent Ted Cruz. Why would a three-term representative with no real legislative achievements think he’s qualified for the role of Commander-in-Chief? Many of us are still waiting for the answer.

But there’s something about Beto—somehow we all refer to him by his first name, as if we know him personally—that seems to stick with people. I’m not saying I endorse him at all; I think we would benefit from someone with more experience, perhaps from the Senate. But, like so many, I've become transfixed by Beto, and I do see several positive qualities. So, for a few moments, forget about the fact that his only real experience is six years in the House, and take a look at why I think both Democrats and Republicans shouldn’t take him too lightly.

1. He didn’t just make the cliché trip to Iowa, like everyone else.

When someone announces his or her candidacy for president, the first place they always hit is Iowa, so they can try and build a good relationship with the people who will vote first in the primaries. These candidates have been no exception—in fact, many have either gone to Iowa the day after announcing or are already there when the announcement goes public! They'll stay in Iowa a few days, maybe host a CNN Town Hall (@Kamala Harris), address large crowds of people (@Elizabeth Warren), or walk in their annual St. Patrick’s Parade as if they're actually from the state (@Amy Klobuchar). I would feel used, if I were an Iowan, since we all know that after the Iowa caucus these big politicians likely won’t be back for a while. But Beto did his Iowa trip differently. Instead, he went to small coffee shops and other independent business and stood on tables to rally people and answer their questions. And then on St. Patrick’s Day, he ran a 5K with Iowans! He really tried to connect with Americans on a deeper, intimate level than these more showy candidates. If I were an Iowan, I would have appreciated Beto's approach more.

2. He’s hit important states others haven’t yet.

Sure, Elizabeth Warren is one of the first to go to Mississippi, but that’s not really a swing state—no matter what, it's going to Trump. I’m talking about states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Pennsylvania. In 2016, those were the states that cost Hillary the election, yet so far, I can’t recall any of the candidates trekking to the latter two. Of course, they may be prioritizing Iowa, Nevada, South Carolina, and New Hampshire—the places with the earliest primaries—but, c’mon, you’re trying to be president of the entire country, not just four states! I like that Beto gave attention to Michigan and Pennsylvania in particular because if the Democrats want to win in 2020, they’re going to need those states.

3. On a similar topic, he’s already covered more ground than other candidates.

In just over a week since his announcement, he’s visited Iowa, Wisconsin, Michigan, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. That’s not to mention all 10 counties of New Hampshire that he visited in a 48-hour span! Instead of just hitting a few colleges in each state, like many candidates do, he prioritized seeing the whole state—a strategy he used while running for senator in Texas (and that place has 254 counties!). Many of the other candidates do have other jobs as senators, but still, Beto’s really taken advantage of every single day on the campaign trail. And, with the exception of South Carolina, Beto did his travel in a Dodge, with himself—not his campaign manager—as the driver! That’s much less flashy than a private jet, which many other candidates undoubtedly use.

4. He—or at least his staff—understands how to use social media.

In 2019, social media is a pretty big deal and especially for politicians trying to gain popularity and get their message out. So many politicians, particularly the older ones (@Bernie Sanders), don’t understand how to use platforms like Instagram or Facebook in a way that will resonate with the people. For instance, Amy Klobuchar’s Instagram isn’t usually in the first-person, so her bio reads: “Donate to Amy’s homegrown campaign today.” Clearly her staff is running the account, and the lack of personality in it makes her feel remote. Or, until today, Bernie Sanders’ Facebook had no event listings, though some were already scheduled. And don’t get me started about Elizabeth Warren’s Instagram live faux pas a few months ago. But Beto—or his team—post regularly (though not an overload!) with authentic captions that make Beto seem real and relatable. I feel like I’ve been able to closely follow and understand his campaign thanks to his social media, and I like that he doesn’t use his accounts just to attack the current president constantly. It’s a campaign for Beto, not Trump!

5. He has a robust events page on his website.

Maybe this is just for now, but with his campaign launch in Houston next weekend, he and his volunteers have already arranged probably well over 100 livestream watch parties that are open to anyone. He’s really bringing people together with his campaign, and encouraging these livestream parties is yet another example of his team’s smart use of social media and technology.

6. He owns his mistakes.

Everyone knows about Beto’s DUIs, and of course we shouldn’t excuse that. But unlike our current president—who’s committed much worse crimes—he owns his mistakes and offers no justification for them. If only we could have someone with his type of honesty and remorse in the White House.

7. He was an English major in college!

Beto graduated from Columbia University in 1995 with a degree in English—how great! I’m humanities person myself, so maybe the next time someone pesters me about what I want to do later in life with my degree, I’ll just say run for president! Plus, even though he went to a great school, at least it’s not Harvard or Yale like the last several thousand presidents, it seems (with the exception of Trump). And, furthermore, how nice would it be to have someone without a law degree or even advanced degree in office? He’d relate to much more of the country, and there’s too much of a requirement for advanced degrees now, anyway.

8.  Already he’s received a lot of support.

Finally, Beto’s already earned so much support from all over the country. Within the 24 hours of his announcement, he raised $6.1 million—the most of all the candidates so far—and welcomed volunteers from every single state. No other candidate can boast those two achievements, and I think it shows how much Beto has been resonating with people.

 

All of this is to say Beto seems more real than all the other candidates. He’s nice, he’s smart, and he’s passionate about the United States. Who knows what will happen for him in the next year, but I’m excited to watch.

 

Image courtesy of GIPHY