Can We Please Not Force Beto O'Rourke 2020

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This morning, a headline:


This is why the Democrats can’t have nice things, per The Hill:

According to the Dallas Morning News, the Democratic Party in Des Moines, which is home to one-third of the state’s Democratic voters, extended the invitation to O’Rourke on Monday.

“We would love to host him,” Sean Bagniewski, the chairman of the Polk County Democratic Party, told the publication. “He was unapologetically progressive. He’s a young face. He wasn’t afraid to be himself. Democrats are often very poll-tested, very consultant-driven. He was more authentic in a way that people haven’t seen since Barack Obama, so he connected with people nationwide in ways that some of our more cautious political leaders haven’t.”

O’Rourke has not responded to the invitation, according to the publication.


Don’t do it, Beto! Save yourself now lest you be chewed up and spit out by the 2020 hype machine long before your time.

A sampling of other recent headlines about efforts to try to make “Beto 2020" happen:

  • Poll: Biden, Bernie, Beto lead 2020 Dem field (Politico)
  • Democrats nudge Beto O’Rourke toward 2020 run after closer-than-expected Texas race (CNN)
  • People Are Supporting Beto O’Rourke for a 2020 Presidential Bid Despite His Senate Loss (
  • Will Beto O’Rourke Become President? (Texas Monthly)

It’s time for me to make this plea once again: I beg you, don’t do this. Remember the last time Democrats coalesced around a candidate way, way too early? The comparison isn’t totally forced! On policy, O’Rourke is a pretty milquetoast Democrat. He swore off corporate PAC money—a commendable, if somewhat hollow, move, given that the majority of his funds were given by large donors, with top corporate supporters like Alphabet and AT&T. He’s been wishy-washy on Medicare For All (he basically prefers expanding what’s left of Obamacare) and he’s a rich (if young) guy with a net worth of nearly $9 million. I’m not saying any of these things are inherently disqualifying, but they’re far from ideal. The left shouldn’t settle now, when the election is still in its infancy.

O’Rourke fought hard in a long-shot race, finishing a stone’s throw from Sen. Ted Cruz. In the end, he lost, and in no other world but politics would people be clamoring less than a month later to push that unsuccessful competitor to a significantly more high-stakes race. What’s more: He got people excited and engaged in politics when it’s easy to feel like all is lost, particularly when you look at the Democrats’ emerging field of candidates to take on Donald Trump. Next to Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden, O’Rourke starts to look pretty great. But here are two truths I can hold in my head simultaneously without exploding: We can and should ask more of our candidates while still committing to back the eventual nominee.

All I ask: give Beto a minute to get his bearings before you foist him into your depraved 2020 power rankings. Forcing this at all—but particularly forcing this before the time is right—benefits no one, especially not the candidate you claim to love.

Managing Editor, Splinter