Beto O’Rourke isn’t a leading contender for the presidency right now.. But that hasn’t stopped me from going on to say multiple times in recent TV & Podcast appearances that he’s part of a cadre of authentic candidates that I admire and believe have a great future in public service. I decided to put together a couple of things I like about him, only two of which are political.
Beto Was in A Rock Band
I am damn sure that if I had ever attended a Beto jam session with his rock buddies, that I would probably light my brain in fire. That being said, being in a grunge band with that kind of hair gains any candidate instant street-cred with younger voters who really want a candidate who draws outside the lines. Being in a hard rock band doesn’t make Beto a candidate younger voters can directly relate to, as some rather shoddy analysts have tried to conclude. The heavy metal & grunge eras were well-over by the time I was a junior in high school (I’m a millennial), and Gen Z voters will have a hard time seeing how that prehistoric set of sounds even qualifies as “music”. That being said, it does make him more human than say, a candidate who used to throw people in jail for smoking pot, and then tries to make themselves relatable by laughing in an interview about how she used to smoke pot (cough…Kamala).
I should probably point out at this juncture that my parents are immigrants from South Asia, and skateboard were considered a dangerous influence that could lead to tattoos, girls and a life of crime and drugs. It did not help that the one Pakistani immigrant friend I had in elementary school who skateboarded did exactly those things. But we won’t go there. Beto’s lifelong passion for skateboarding is the sort of thing you don’t expect any 46 year-old father with an Ivy League education to do. It’s unexpected, refreshing and a very healthy way to get exercise and meet diverse people who are not political junkies. That last point is incredibly important to Beto: he really does like to just meet everyday people.
His Old College Buddies Describe Him As Having “Radical Authenticity”
It’s usually not a good sign when presidential hopefuls have people who knew them in college reminisce in public about their wayward youths. Ted Cruz, who nearly lost his Senate seat in deep red Texas to Beto found that out when an old classmate started tweeting about his purported issues with hygiene. But not too surprisingly “His artist friends knew him as the scruffy guy who got them into trouble for skateboarding through the dorm,” recalls Boris Kachka, a classmate of Beto’s at Columbia University in the 1990s, before adding he was also captain of the crew team (God, I wish I was Beto).
Beto Is Not Winning & He Doesn’t Care: He’s Still Running Things His Way
Yesterday I wrote about how Beto O’ Rourke decided to take a Bolt Bus from New York to Boston, instead of a flight. His campaign staff gave a rather interesting rationale: the bus is less polluting. I see a far more compelling reason: Beto hates being a stuffed shirt, and really enjoys being a a regular person. Millions of Americans simply cannot afford to fly, and Beto isn’t looking to win the 1% vote in first class on American Airlines. He’s genuinely concerned about the direction of America today, and likely chose the Bolt Bus as a way to really talk to everyday voters—-even if he isn’t winning the presidency as of right now in the polls.
A Bridge Between Americans: Pluralism is His Strong Suit
Hard Punk Rocker & former miscreant. Ivy League education & crew team captain. Skateboarder & f-bomb aficionado. Texas-born Irishman with a Hispanic nickname whose dad was a Southern Democrat who raised money for Jesse Jackson, and whose mom was a moderate Republican. Beto is a brackish mish-mash of all th constituent parts that make America one single whole. It is in the personhood of Beto O’Rourke that Americans find a man who is truly in touch with who we are and wha makes us such a great and diverse people. That pluralistic combination is both impressive and fantastic. And it is chief amongst my reasons as to why I really like Beto O’Rourke.