By Staff Writer Seth Tamarkin.
Months after losing a Senate race to wannabe cartoon villain Ted Cruz, former Texas congressman Beto O’Rourke is picking up his skateboard and running for higher office yet again, this time vying for the Presidency.
Okay, it should be noted that Beto O’Rourke has yet to film himself skateboarding since announcing his candidacy, as he did in 2018. However, Beto’s first few days as a presidential candidate have shown a couple different ways he hopes to stand out amongst the many, many other Democratic candidates.
Firstly, he is intent on capturing the same millennial fervor that got him an earshot away at dethroning Ted Cruz. But, while other candidates get young voters’ attention through policy proposals that will impact them, O’Rourke has yet to develop any concrete proposals. Instead, he’s doubling down on good ol’ fashioned pandering.
As a throwback to his days in a punk band, Beto calls his style of small-venue campaigning like a “punk rock adventure.” Vanity Fair broke the news that Beto was running with a huge cover story adorned with pictures of him and his family smiling. Finally, he criticized the signers of Trump’s tax bill, saying, “Who were those pendejos? We don’t want to be those pendejos.”
Natural charm and charisma aside, and that is a big aside given how charismatic Beto is, that last comment sounds like something Donald Trump would say and rightfully get mocked for. Speaking of Trump-like comments, O’Rourke caught heat recently for saying that he only “sometimes” helps raise his kids, something Trump got backlash for saying a few years ago.
With gaffes like those, Beto sounds like a younger Joe Biden, but his identity leans more toward Obama.
At the very least, that’s how the media describes him, constantly comparing Beto to a younger, white Obama due to his charisma. This nostalgic fawning will result in the same issue Biden has though, which is that both of their careers remind voters of Obama, until their policies are looked at.
While Obama was offering “change” as a central theme of his candidacy, O’Rourke is astutely offering the same “incremental change” that inspires eye –rolling more than hope to young voters. On important issues like healthcare, climate change, and the economy, his lack of proposals become especially apparent.
When it comes to Medicare-For-All, Beto now says he does not support the idea, despite vocally championing for it in 2017, and hinting at support in 2018. As for climate change, the former congressman refuses to support the Green New Deal, despite previously stressing how important an issue climate change is.
As for the economy, his intentionally vague policy proposals have allowed him thus far to avoid talking about his economic ideas. He’s quick to denounce certain institutions as bad but doesn’t offer any ideas to solve the crisis.
When he first joined congress, he joined Bill Clinton’s New Democrats Coalition, which are comprised of right-leaning, Clintonian democrats. Therefore, it is not surprising that he refuses to talk in-depth about how he’ll take on corrupt banking institutions, like other New Democrats before him.
If Beto really believes that constantly flip-flopping will not worry young voters, he’s going to have a rough time ahead. My generation has seen politician after politician give the same routine where they say one thing to get votes, then do the opposite after getting elected. His pandering will only get him so far if he cannot offer anything tangible afterwards.
As cringeworthy as it was to watch Elizabeth Warren celebrate New Year’s Day by drinking a beer on Instagram Live, at least she has committed policy goals that offset her blatant attempts to cater to voters. Beto O’Rourke has plenty of charisma but riding on a skateboard isn’t going to be enough to win votes.
He’ll need to realize that soon if he has any shot of taking on Donald Trump, the king of empty-handed pandering.