Beto O’Rourke has officially announced his candidacy for President. I know what you’re thinking…
Hey, it could happen, just look at Justin Trudeau in Canada.
Just kidding; I suspect what you’re probably thinking is something like, ‘Are you f**king joking me?’
Leave aside for a moment the parts of Beto’s platform and policy history that progressives find most distasteful — his anti-worker, pro-Wall Street, pro-war history, the oceans of oil money he is swimming in, his opposition to Medicare for All, and so on. It is uncontroversial at this point to suggest, as Jacobin did months ago, that, from a progressive policy standpoint, Beto may have represented a small step forward in his home state of Texas, but would represent an enormous step backwards for the Democratic Party on a national level.
But leave this aside and instead take a non-partisan look at Beto O’Rourke: a failed musician, failed writer, a political loser to the man who already lost to Trump, that is, a political loser to Ted “the most hated politician in America” Cruz, a dishonest opportunist who broke his pledge not to accept fossil fuel campaign contributions shortly after he made it, a shameless huckster happy to put his finger on the political scale against his constituents in the favor of his wealthy benefactors, and a man so arrogant that, in an era where the presuppositions of patriarchy are finally being eradicated, he would launch his campaign with the slogan, “Man, I’m just born to be in it.”
Arrogant. Out of touch. Dishonest. A failure and a loser without achievement or cause.
Beto O’Rourke. Robert Francis O’Rourke. Uninspired and uninspiring, a do-nothing, know-nothing, with nothing going for him except the color of his skin and the billions of dollars in his family’s bank account. He is the worst type of manifestation of white privilege, and, frankly, I am embarrassed for him that he thinks he can be President.
So why then is he being treated with stern-faced seriousness in the mainstream media? Of course, his corporate credentials are unquestioned, but surely even the media cannot see Beto on his best day as anything other than a sacrificial lamb to be led to the Trump slaughter.
The first option seems to be that mainstream media is attempting to play the electorate like they were a person sitting out in the woods waiting for a deer to pass, killing time by shooting at empty beer cans, only to find themselves out of bullets when a deer finally appears.
Seemingly every week the mainstream media attempts to elevate another deeply flawed corporate candidate to the rank of ‘serious contender,’ as they are now doing with Beto, leaving these flesh-and-blood straw ‘men’ to be decimated on social media, their records picked apart by independent media, and their campaigns sent quickly back to the pack of mediocrity.
If these are the beer cans, then who is the deer? Who is the candidate of whom mainstream media will finally say, ‘Ok, you’ve picked apart everyone so far, surely you can’t do it to this person!’ Where is the line in the sand where the semi-engaged, functionally apathetic portion of the public gets tired of negativity and closes their ears to criticism through examination, even with a deeply flawed candidate? Who is the savior in this natural progression, the unassailable political golden child of corporate America? Joe Biden? Maybe Hillary Clinton?
The second possible explanation for mainstream media treating a joke like Beto O’Rourke as a serious presidential candidate is slightly more devious, though probably just as likely; the explanations are not mutually exclusive.
In 2016, there were only two candidates in the Democratic primary process (sorry Martin O’Malley). Thus, the results were relatively easy — superdelegates aside — to interpret; in each state, one candidate was the winner and the other was the loser.
This time around there are so many declared candidates it is likely that delegates will be split three, four, five, or more ways in each state.
There is, at this point, only one serious contender the corporate power structure decisively opposes becoming President — Bernie Sanders. But the establishment doesn’t actually need someone to defeat Bernie in the primary to stop him, only for every corporate candidate put together to earn more delegates than him, allowing the establishment to pick the candidate of their choice at the convention.
This is why no-hopers like Beto are being taken seriously by mainstream media, and why they will attempt to stay in the race at least as far as their home states, no matter how pathetic the results are to that point, in order to pillage as many delegates for the pile as possible.
It makes sense, but in the case of Beto O’Rourke, mainstream media is really asking us to suspend our disbelief. In a race of long-time Senators, military veterans, Attorney Generals — and possibly a vice-President and/or Secretary of State — we are being asked to take seriously a rich kid who, having floated through his 20s and 30s without purpose or even a serious job, decided he’d like to be leader of the country.
It might have worked for Justin Trudeau in Canada, but this isn’t Canada, something people like Beto O’Rourke constantly remind us with their opposition to Medicare for All. No sh** this isn’t Canada. If it was, there would be Universal Healthcare, people would not be dying in the streets for lack of medical care, and maybe they could afford an air-headed legacy kid as a leader.
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