By Eva Lynch
Beto O’Rourke’s presidential campaign stands on a niche platform, as that of a survivor of a failed music career, the man who almost took down Ted Cruz, the only one thus far who has widened the blue island in the red sea that is Texas, and a resident and representative of El Paso, Texas.
So far in his presidential campaign, Beto’s campaign strategies have been nothing if not puzzling. So, after the tragic shootings in El Paso and West Texas, the victims of which were primarily Mexican or Mexican-American, Beto’s followers and analysts were waiting to see how these tragedies would translate into Beto’s campaign.
While immigration has always been one of the more important issues in Beto’s campaign, as a candidate coming from a border city, it is now — more so than ever — at the forefront of his campaign. In his first speech after the shootings in El Paso, Beto identified the racism which he finds running rampant through the country as one of the more dangerous causes of these mass shootings the country has recently been plagued with, saying, “We have a racism in America that is as old as America itself and intolerance towards those who do not look like, or pray like, or love like or speak like the majority in this country.” He continued to note that in his opinion, progression on this issue came to an abrupt halt when the Trump Administration entered office.
It is also in this speech that Beto announced his new campaign strategy, inspired by the tragedies in his hometown. As he continues to seek the presidency, Beto will spend less time campaigning in early primary states, like Iowa and New Hampshire. Instead, he will opt to spend his time where he feels his presence and advocacy for this issue are more pertinent, in states like Mississippi, where almost 700 workers in food-processing plants were detained in recent immigration raids.
Instead of bolstering his presidential campaign as he had hoped, Beto’s impassioned response to the El Paso shootings led many Texans to call upon Beto to drop out of the presidential race and pursue another Senate bid, where many Texans feel he can make more of a difference both regarding the issue of mass shootings and gun control as well as aiding the Democrats in regaining control of the Senate.
However, Beto responded to these calls in a statement “that would not be good enough for this community.” Many of Beto’s other supporters feel as if he made the right decision in declining to switch races, as this would have certain implications during a political climate where both the White House and the Senate are controlled by the Republicans. Some also think this could boost support for Beto’s campaign, as it augments his integrity as a candidate for the presidency and a strong-standing opponent to Donald Trump.
Another new campaign strategy which Beto seems to have begun employing alongside other Democratic candidates is his use of profanity, most notably in the above-mentioned speech.
When asked if he felt Donald Trump should accept some responsibility for deaths at the hands of gun violence, Beto responded, “What do you think? You know the s*** he has been saying. He’s been calling Mexican immigrants rapists and criminals. I mean, members of the press—what the f***.”
O’Rourke’s profanity raised so many eyebrows that ABC and the DNC issued a message to the candidates prior to the Democratic debate last week: keep it clean.
Critics and analysts of O’Rourke commend his use of profanity as an authentic expression of emotion, something politics has previously lacked. One critic in particular, Chris Cillizza of CNN, says that Beto’s use of profanity in regards to mass shootings, combined with his voiced support for a mandatory buyback program of AR-15s and AK-47s, has sent a very clear message that “thoughts and prayers” are no longer enough in light of the depth and magnitude of seriousness and danger this issue poses to our society.
Catholic University student Abigail Anger says of Beto’s recently refined demographic focus, “While I’m unsure if this defined focus will get him the nomination, he is talking about important issues to an important demographic.”
Similarly, critics are unsure that Beto’s new strategies will put him on a path to the White House. However, he has established gun control and mass shootings as important issues which demand executive action be taken towards them, and it is certain that he will continue to have an impact like this on constituents and this election cycle.