Does Beto O’Rourke Have Anything Special to Offer?
Beto O’Rourke’s senate run in Texas stirred national excitement and speculation about the young politician’s ability to be America’s “next Obama.” He’s officially throwing his hat in the race for 2020 – but does Beto have anything to offer that other Democratic candidates don’t? More at CNN.
Can O’Rourke raise money like he did last year, and do it quickly and effectively enough to overcome the horde of Democrats seeking the nomination? Does that relatively flimsy resume show him as Beto the Unready, or does it just mean he has fewer past exploits and decisions to defend? It has worked both ways in recent elections at the state and national level… At the moment, he’s the most interesting character onstage. The trick is to stay there.
You don’t need to be a policy wonk to be president, but O’Rourke’s allergy to specifics is worsened by his refusal to give voters any real clue of his guiding ideology. As he put it at his final congressional town hall last year, when asked whether he was a progressive: “I’m not big on labels. I don’t get all fired up about party or classifying or defining people based on a label or a group. I’m for everyone.” Labels like progressive and moderate have limited meaning—especially as White House hopefuls blur the lines between both—but they’re not devoid of meaning. If O’Rourke is not going to get specific, the least he can do is get general.
In truth, no one knows who’s going to catch fire. If O’Rourke is a self-absorbed flake, his campaign will implode before the first votes are cast. If, however, he is as talented and inspirational as his fans say, you might see the race narrow to a face-off between former vice president Joe Biden and O’Rourke — the past vs. future, the insider vs. the outsider, the baby boomer vs. the Gen Xer, etc. If that’s the choice, O’Rourke has a decent chance to win this in a party that is always looking for someone new and exciting.