Beto O’Rourke ran hard. One of the most exciting campaigns Texas politics has seen in years, people said. He came very close to unseating Ted Cruz in the November midterms. But now—2020? Hard to say. No momentum right now. No job. Beto’s feeling lost.
But, you know, he’s writing. He’s doing blogs. Some people say they sound like LiveJournal entries, or the stuff the beatniks would do. Here’s one. You can read it if you want.
I stayed at the Motel Safari, one of these classic Route 66 motels. Mid-century everything. I talked to the owner for a bit. He moved from Tennessee and away from corporate life. Starting over. Giving himself to this hotel that he bought a couple years back. Hasn’t taken a break in more than a year, but is going to close down for the month of February, spend some time back in Tennessee. Take a break, come back stronger.
Beto sees himself in this dusty motel owner on the side of Route 66. A little bit of his tired soul staring back out at him from the man across the counter. Close down for a month, take a break. Come back stronger.
The next morning I ran. Just a couple of miles. Down 66, then through neighborhoods, past the History Museum. My leg has really been bothering me since the campaign and so I had stopped running for a while. This was my first run in more than a month. Felt good, running in new shoes.
Have been stuck lately. In and out of a funk. My last day of work was January 2nd. It’s been more than twenty years since I was last not working. Maybe if I get moving, on the road, meet people, learn about what’s going on where they live, have some adventure, go where I don’t know and I’m not known, it’ll clear my head, reset, I’ll think new thoughts, break out of the loops I’ve been stuck in.
He’s been running so long, man, the only thing that makes sense is to keep on going. Gotta run somehow. On the road, on the campaign trail. But you can’t do both. Hard to go for runs when you’re running, you know. But you gotta clear the head somehow. Sort it all out.
Immigration. A problem. Beto’s gotta see what the people think.
Here’s something he wrote yesterday. The day before today. Not that he’s the kinda guy to look too far back into the past.
As I passed the World War II memorial there was a guy in front of me, running next to the reflecting pool towards the Lincoln memorial. I took the other path, enclosed by an arcade of trees. I figured it would shield me better from the snow that was hitting the side of my face. I saw him stretch out his arms as he ran as though to embrace the snow, the pool, the morning, the Lincoln memorial that we could now see in front of us, life, and all the mystery of being alive.
It really is a mystery, this life. You could be in Washington one day, New Mexico the next. Gotta embrace it. See what comes next, what’s in front of us. Another race. Another town. Hell, another tour.
Goodwell, OK. That’s another place he went. Met with people there. Students.
We talked about everything and anything that anyone wanted to talk about. First question: Why in the world was I in Goodwell?
It’s on 54, and that’s the road I started on in El Paso. Never been to Goodwell and wanted to see what was here and who lived here and what they were thinking.
We talked about healthcare. About war and veterans. We talked about the border and immigration and Dreamers. We talked about corporate influence in politics, PACs and election finance. We talked about how hard it is to afford college. A recruiter for OPSU told me about the anxiety she encounters among kids in high school who don’t think they’ll ever have the money to come here.
That’s the true beauty of America. Having those conversations. Being able to come into a town as an everyday guy and see who’s around to meet. Taking some time off to recharge but also to travel the country meeting with people. Of voting age. Who think about the issues. Telling them where he is on the issues. Running—but not running.