Beto O’Rourke Speaks to Student Journalists

James Maloney

Former Representative and former 2020 presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke was able to have a remote discussion with student journalists about current issues and what it means to be a politician. I was fortunate enough to be one of about 20 student journalists to participate.

While the congressman shared many  points of advice for us, he had also offered  comments about the current situation in Washington and around the country. One student asked a question that compared the response of 9/11 to Covid and as to why there is a lesser sense of patriotism now than there was then. O’Rourke expressed frustration through criticising the Trump administration. He explained how the actions of the people are reflected through the president in times of emergency. He thought former President George Bush brought a sense of patriotism after 9/11, while President Trump has kept the nation polarized during this global pandemic. Though our nation may be polarized to a degree, not all eyes are fixed on Washington. O’Rourke discussed how Americans are still helping one another. Even if it is through a simple act of gratitude, he still believes that Americans are doing their part throughout the nation to help one another. 

 O’Rourke currently resides in El Paso, Texas with his family. However, the former congressman has been able to keep busy outside of his home through food banks. His message to us defined politics as a heavy involvement with service. Before the interview, he had just come home from feeding the homeless. He also explained that through service, connections are made. The significance of these connections can be seen in the outcome of elections. 

Though many politicians have participated in ways much like his, what seems to set him apart from these individuals is his personality and the way in which he ran for office. While reflecting on his 2020 campaign, O’Rourke stated that he wanted to run on a platform “that was true to the human spirit.” Before his political career took off, he had been heavily involved with music. Together with his band, they would record music in a garage. O’Rourke explained how politics can be greatly expressed through music and how genres such as punk rock have a large amount of influence on the political world. 

Interestingly enough were his comments about the debate stage: “I hate it,” he said, when asked. He elaborated on how he didn’t like digging into his opponents and attacking them. In a time where debates are all the rage, he believed that his performances were not as good as they could be, putting much of the blame on his morals. This is what makes him stand out from other politicians. His appreciation of art and giving attention to those who don’t normally get it. He doesn’t want to prove that he’s better than anybody, but he still wants Americans to humbly follow his path of generosity and kindness in hope of bringing a better tomorrow.