Former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke announced last Friday that he would be dropping out of the 2020 presidential race. Announcing his decision on Medium, Beto wrote, “Though it is difficult to accept, it is clear to me now that this campaign does not have the means to move forward successfully.”
With struggling donor and polling numbers, it was clear that Beto’s campaign had a nearing expiration date. His departure leaves well over a dozen candidates left in the democratic race and no clear frontrunner for the party to cohesively stand behind.
It was clear from the beginning that Beto was unlikely to gain much leeway in this heavily contested race. His association with the other men who similarly felt entitled to join the conversation (ahem John Delaney) has grown into a tired theme of modern politics as wealthy white men seek out any possible belonging in national political discourse.
However, Beto’s presence was refreshing, as he distanced himself from the righteous establishment Democrat theme that has plagued the complacent party’s voices for years. Beto grew outspoken on gun violence in America, released progressive voting accessibility legislation, and backed rhetoric for social upheaval in the wake of President Trump’s election.
“At this moment of truth for our country, we laid bare the cost and consequence of Donald Trump: the rise in hate crimes, the terror attack in El Paso, the perversion of the Constitution, the diminished standing of the United States around the world. But we also made clear the common responsibility to confront him, to hold him accountable and ensure that he does not serve another term in office. Committing ourselves to this task not as Democrats or Republicans, but as Americans first before we are anything else.”
– Beto O’Rourke via Medium
As a candidate, Beto was far from perfect and needs to demonstrate consistently in his civil work before he can count on any significant national support. Nonetheless, he inserted himself into the discussion and voiced concerns and sentiments many of us share. He ditched the political norms of complacent civility and shifted the conversation to the many social ills that our nation is facing with a fresh sense of determination and well-intent.
He skated, played in a weird punk-rock band, and visited weed dispensaries and conservative farmers alike. He entered the race inspired yet disgusted with the American political scene under Trump’s rule. And while he may be stepping down from his national platform, it’s about time we embrace the culture of well-spoken yet assertive rhetoric that the Texas Congressman eagerly fought for.