Beto O’Rourke at Kent State University, September 25, 2019

Time To Get Off the Sidelines

About a month ago, I wrote an article explaining why I support Beto O’Rourke for president and I am glad I did it. Like many who plan to vote in the Democratic primary and then work together in 2020 to defeat Donald Trump, I was previously sitting on the sidelines trying to decide who to support. It’s because we have many good and qualified candidates who all have some weaknesses but also bring to the race a variety of strengths. That said, with just over 100 days until the voting begins, it’s time for all of us to make our choice and get active—especially prominent Democrats and cultural leaders who have influence and can bring others along with them.

Vice President Joe Biden served loyally as Barack Obama’s administration for eight years and has a long distinguished career of public service. He’s also relying on the early poll numbers as proof that he is the most electable against Trump. That said, Joe has not performed at a high level that is required in this race and has mostly laid low in order to try and maintain his fading front-runner status. He is a good choice who want a stable leader to replace the very unstable one we have now. But for some, he doesn’t represent the change we need at this crucial moment for our country.

Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders have bold progressive plans for the country that many believe we need. It’s inspiring and channels the frustration with a system that has been unfair for too long—leaving more people behind and only making inequality worse. But, in a general election, it is a real question about whether these far-reaching ideas will be an over-reach for many of the Obama-Trump voters we need and the suburban voters who propelled our victory in 2018. Both Senators are also from the northeast and unfortunately for many voters they represent the elitism that Trump is so good at demonizing.

Mayor Pete is a smart guy who is well spoken. A perfectly good choice for those looking for generational change. That said, do we need to go from the Boomers straight to the Millennials or could Generation X get its shot at leading the country? Also, his midwest background seems to have informed his politics to be more incremental, cautious and ultimately less bold. This trepidation and triangulation has played out in a negative way for many in the party. And people want someone who is bolder — a leader big enough for this moment.

The three Gen-X senators, Senators Harris, Klobuchar and Booker are all sincere, thoughtful and well-meaning. But it is not clear that any of them can spark the type of movement we will need next year and all suffer the baggage that being a senator brings. We need a nominee that can not only energize the base but be able to hold onto the suburban voters from the midterms. Being from the coasts (NJ and CA) can be a detriment for some and doesn’t prove one’s ability to appeal to independents and Republicans in flyover country. And an understated moderate approach that Senator Klobuchar represents may not fire enough people up either.

For me, Beto represents the generational change we need right now, has proven he can both inspire a big movement (increased young voters by 500% in 2018) AND can get Republican (got 500,000 in 2018) and Independent votes (won more than a million in 2018). His understanding of the issues of today—climate, gun violence, race and the immigrant experience is authentic and is rooted in his grasp of history and the place he grew up. Being from Texas, Beto will also bring the 38 electoral votes into play fundamentally changing the map and giving us a much better chance to win in November. He is the real deal. The leader that can being everyone in and make sure everyone is included in the future we want to build.

That said, no matter who you support, this is no time to sit on the sidelines and wait. Whoever you think is the right candidate to defeat Trump, make it known. Get active. You have to do more than give money online (but certainly that helps), you have to talk to your friends about why you support who you do, you have to attend events, make calls, knock on doors and take action.

We will need everyone in the fall next year united to defeat Trump. It’s why, right now, it’s crucial we all stand up and put in the effort to build and strengthen all of our political muscles. It is too important to be sitting on the sidelines, we all have to get in the game and do our part.

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Trying to live in the present, think about the future

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Brian Hardwick

Brian Hardwick

Trying to live in the present, think about the future

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