Rep. Beto O’Rourke (D-El Paso) is the Democratic frontrunner to take on “Lying” Ted Cruz (TP-Texas) in 2018. The Texas Observer has an long article on O’Rourke unorthodox campaign and background. O’Rourke stands in stark contrast to the narcissistic, unlikeable and prickly Cruz who seems afraid to be in Texas right now as he has refused to hold a town hall meeting anywhere in the state for months. O’Rourke on the other hand is rolling through Texas shaking hands and making friends. Beto is still unlikely to unseat “Lying Ted”, but he just might make the smug and self-righteous Cruz sweat. That would be worth the price of admission.
If you’re a Democrat and you find yourself running for statewide office in Texas, somewhere along the way you’ve made a wrong decision. A campaign is a two-year hell, and you have a very low chance of winning. If you lose badly, like Wendy Davis, your political life is probably over. Stay on the sidelines, like the Castro brothers, and your time may never come. Either way, you and your party lose. To run, and to commit to it seriously, requires either a sort of blindness to reality or a willingness to sacrifice for the greater good.O’Rourke has a bit of both. On the one hand, he has very little experience with state politics, having skipped from a seat on the El Paso City Council to Congress. He’s unfamiliar with the bitterness and cynicism that pervades party politics in the rest of the state.
But he also feels a certain urgency. Many people believe the whole system of American politics is breaking down, he says. “I know so many people who voted for Trump, and I say, ‘How could you do that? You live in El Paso. You don’t want a wall.’ They’re like, ‘No, I could give a shit about the wall. I just want somebody to blow that place up. That place is so fucked up and corrupted, and it is a swamp, and that’s the first guy who I know could care less about the system.’” In his own way, O’Rourke is trying to blow up the system, too. When he describes his reasons for doing so, it becomes clear that the campaign is a sort of personal crusade.
“I think that your successor 500 years from now is going to be writing about us the way that we write about the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages,” he tells me. “It’s just so corrupt, in the same way that they were selling bishoprics and indulgences to shorten your time in purgatory. We’re selling votes. We’re selling amendments. We’re selling democracy, and it’s absolutely disgusting. But what makes it even more fucked up is that everybody knows that it’s happening, but it’s just what has always happened for so long now that it’s all-encompassing in the system. No one seems really willing to do anything that will compromise their ability to be successful in that system by stepping out of it.”