Beto O’Rourke May Become the 1st U.S. Senator to Reference The Clash in a Debate

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We already knew U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke was cool because he was in punk bands when he was younger and he jammed with Willie Nelson on some pro-marijuana songs.

Now, in a much-anticipated Friday night debate with his opponent in the Texas race, the very unhip Sen. Ted Cruz, O’Rourke dropped a reference to the band that got him into punk music in the first place: The Clash.


“I want to make sure that, again, we’re are not giving away to corporations or special interests,” O’Rourke said. “That’s what Senator Cruz would do thanks to the contributions that he’s received from those political action committees. He’s working for the clampdown and the corporations and the special interests. He’s not working for the people of Texas.”


The “clampdown” is a reference to the 1979 song of the same name by the legendary British punk band. It appeared on London Calling, an album O’Rourke, who is 45, first heard in eighth grade, according to Rolling Stone. O’Rourke called the album “a revelation.”

“Clampdown” refers to the widespread crackdown by police and government forces on protesters and strikers throughout the 1970s. The song has become an anti-capitalist mantra over the years.

Here’s one verse:

The judge said five to 10, but I say double that again
I’m not working for the clampdown
No man born with a living soul
Can be working for the clampdown
Kick over the wall ’cause government’s to fall
How can you refuse it?
Let fury have the hour, anger can be power
Do you know that you can use it?

The reference generated a buzz on social media among Clash (and Beto) fans.

“Never in my life did I imagine that a man capable of quoting The Clash could have the slightest chance of serving as a U.S. Senator from the state of Texas. #StrummerLives,” David Simon, author and creator of The Wire, said on Twitter.


“brb sending Beto O’Rourke all my money,” added NextGen America’s Jamison Foser.


The two candidates covered other important issues in the first of three debates in the hotly contested race for U.S. Senate, including immigration, gun violence, Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, NFL protests, and President Donald Trump, among others.

Asked to say something nice about each other, O’Rourke praised the sacrifice Cruz and his family have made to pursue politics. Cruz turned an attempt at complimenting his opponent into a smear, calling O’Rourke a socialist and comparing him to Sen. Bernie Sanders.


“True to form,” O’Rourke responded.

According to Politico, O’Rourke raised over $9 million online in August alone, putting him on course “to have one of the most prolific fundraising quarters of any Senate candidate in history, excluding self-funders.”


From April to June, O’Rourke raised $10.4 million online, and that jumped to about $12 million in the past two months, Politico said.

Nevertheless, Cruz has continued to lead in recent polling, according to FiveThirtyEight. But the margins are slim, and well within the margin of error in many cases. One recent poll by Ipsos from Sept. 6-14 had O’Rourke up by 2 points.


Texas hasn’t elected a Democrat statewide since 1994, The Dallas Morning News pointed out.

Friday’s debate will be rebroadcast Sunday morning at 8 a.m. local time. Two additional debates are scheduled for Sept. 30 and Oct. 16.

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