There are tides in the affairs of men, we are reliably assured, which, taken at the flood, lead on to fortune. Does that mean Texans may expect the ascent of Rep. Beto O’Rourke to the U.S. Senate, on a flood of antagonism toward Donald Trump?
Hanged if I see any such prospect cresting out there in the political sea. I say so in spite of all the cash supposedly deluging O’Rourke’s campaign organization.
I say so, additionally, despite the forest of “Beto” signs surrounding my premises. My conservative neighborhood has given over, at least somewhat, to admiration of a liberal Democrat seeking to displace a right-wing Republican senator?! Oh, come on.
At the same time, what’s happened to the stars by which we were accustomed to steer, prior to the coming of Trump — or for that matter of Barack Obama? People do things, say things, and vote for things and people you wouldn’t have thought they would.
We’re in a transitional time, which is what excites liberals and progressives so much. They see a moment to be seized, a new day to be uncurtained. I think they overthink. They dream that red Texas will award Ted Cruz’s red Senate seat to a blue congressman nobody outside of El Paso had heard of until this year. He became the fresh produce we’re excited to see on the stands.
Trump had the same element of freshness going for him when he defeated in the Electoral College a drooping Hillary Clinton. Obama, before him, had similarly fluttered pulses. A nation that expects a new smartphone every year was ready for iPhone 2016 when it came out in the form of an abrasive New York real estate investor. Now it’s 2018. Let’s go on with the Next New Thing.
In Texas, Beto — the Hispanic nickname for Roberto, if it’s still necessary to point it out — positions himself so as not to repel rightward-leaning moderates, even while he excites anti-Trumpers in general. He sells mostly himself — a not-unattractive product at that. He’s tall and lean and hardly ever appears in public without the rolled-up sleeves meant to connote love of shirt-sleeved people.
Beto eschews the violent imagery of Donald Trump. This you have to like. He doesn’t tweet insults. He calms while gingering you up. As a candidate, Obama had the same knack. He handled himself civilly most of the time.
You might, in fact, call Beto the Irish-American Obama, picking up where the earlier version unwillingly left off due to term limits: the outward modes and manners the same, the policies the same.
Here we get down to basics: the policies. You don’t have to like or dislike a politician to like or dislike his policies. To like Cruz’s policies — as the majority of my fellow Texans do, unless I’m emerging from a drugged sleep — is not necessarily to like tight, tense Ted. It is to like his commitments to freedom.
Progressives à la Beto (how love of government control came to be equated with “progress” is a sermon for another Sunday) miss the boat in appearing in most things to desire the rule of experts, elected or academic. They know what fair pay is. They know what good health care is. They know what you should do with your land and your guns. They have their own moral precepts, never mind what you picked up at home or in church.
You can offer this stuff on the marketplace with smiles and sweet, musical language. Closing the deal is another matter, especially when the customers see your price — to wit, their independence.
Then there’s the real political imponderable: the anger that progressives ruthlessly, and needlessly, aroused over the Kavanaugh nomination. My spies tell me there’s going to be payback at the polls over the manhandling of an honorable and qualified jurist, whose confirmation Beto O’Rourke acknowledges he would have tried to block.
The congressman from El Paso, I am guessing, misjudges both his moment and his territory. But that’s his problem, not Texas’.
William Murchison is writing a book on American moral restoration in the 21st century.
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