Beto O'Rourke

Can a Self-Described 'Capitalist' Win the 2020 Democratic Primary?

Beto O'Rourke-who won't call himself a "progressive," let alone a "democratic socialist"-is expected to jump into the presidential race.

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||| Carlo Allegri/REUTERS/Newscom
Carlo Allegri/REUTERS/Newscom

When Sen. Bernie Sanders (I–Vt.) jumped into the 2020 presidential race last week, reporters sought comment about Bernie's democratic socialism from the other would-be candidate who tends to make Democratic voters weak in the knees, former congressman and failed senatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke.

"I'm a capitalist," O'Rourke replied. "I don't see how we're able to meet any of the fundamental challenges that we have as a country without, in part, harnessing the power of the market. Climate change is the most immediate example of that. If you're going to bring the total innovation and ingenuity of this country to bear…our economy is going to have to be a part of that." Asked at a town hall two months prior if he was a progressive, O'Rourke incurred the wrath of Team Bernie by saying, "I don't know….I'm not big on labels. I don't get all fired up about party or classifying or defining people based on a label or a group. I'm for everyone."

O'Rourke this week announced that he has made a decision about whether he is going to run; he says he's "excited to share it with everyone soon," which pretty much everyone (including his sister) interprets as #He'sRunning. With President Donald Trump and his less-subtle surrogates clearly relishing a campaign fight against socialism, and with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D–N.Y.) emerging as both the go-to conservative bogeyman and an influential driver of Democratic policy discussions, some on the left are catching the distinct whiff of triangulation from the toothsome Medium author.

"O'Rourke's biggest presidential problem is he's potentially positioned himself as too much of a centrist to win the backing of the Democratic Party's increasingly large progressive wing in a nationwide Democratic primary," writes Esquire's Gabrielle Bruney. "During his three terms in Congress, O'Rourke joined the centrist New Democrat Coalition rather than the Congressional Progressive Caucus and amassed a voting record more conservative than that of the average Democrat….Beto backed Medicare for All in 2017, but, as Politico notes, stopped publicly using both that term and 'single payer' as his Senate Campaign heated up last year."

The progressive case against O'Rourke, as I pointed out in December, is almost entirely economic, since he has been far to the "left" of most Democrats on the drug war, criminal justice reform, immigration, and U.S. intervention abroad. (Though headlines like "Beto's excellent adventure drips with white male privilege" also indicate that the identity-politics wars will inflict some wounds as well.) So how does his economic centrism translate into policy?

For one thing, like vanishingly few politicians from either major party, O'Rourke speaks as if there are budgetary constraints on the federal level. "We are $21 trillion in debt," he lamented at a town hall in December, commenting further that "we are projected to add $1 trillion in deficit spending to that debt just in this next fiscal year." He's also a comparatively lonely pro-trade voice in the Democratic field.

On the other hand O'Rourke also recently called the Green New Deal "the best proposal that I've seen to ensure that this planet does not warm another two degrees Celsius," despite the plan's jaw-dropping cost and progressive grab-bagging. And he has said in the past that a "single-payer Medicare-for-all program is the best way to ensure all Americans get the healthcare they need," despite the country's inability to afford even the Medicare we already have.

It's worth pointing out that the O'Rourkian thrill that went down Democrats' legs during his unprecedentedly expensive race against Sen. Ted Cruz (R–Texas) had far less to do with policy or ideology and far more to do with the challenger's charisma and inclusive uplift. This quality, otherwise elusive on the Democratic primary side so far (with the possible partial exception of California Sen. Kamala Harris), has drawn not just frequent comparisons to Barack Obama but some obvious enthusiasm from the former president's inner circle. Trump would probably love to run against a democratic socialist. It might prove a thornier challenge for him to smite someone who excites Democrats without either promising too much or scaring half the country.

The flip side to the O'Rourke grassroots phenomenon—should it repeat itself in a presidential run, which is far from a sure thing—is that being the object of a political groundswell tends to change a person, including ideologically. Howard Dean started out as a pro-gun, largely pro-intervention centrist, but after catching the anti-Iraq War fire, "I noticed folks to the left of me…were saying stuff that turned out to be true." Bernie Sanders has successfully jerked the whole party significantly to the economic left; it would take an act of will to resist being swept along.

NEXT: L.A. Officials Use Olympics as Cover to Spend $26 Billion on Transit Projects That Have Little to Do With the Games

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  1. Matt Welch is holding that Beto boner so tight!

    1. Hard to tell if it’s Welch or Gillespie who sports the largest knob over Fido. Reuniting with those lib roots.

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  2. His father in law is the capitalist. He’s the ne’er do well son in law.

  3. O’Rourke has charisma?

    Are you sure?

    1. He must be storing it somewhere for safe keeping.

    2. He’s tall. Some people are so easy.

    3. O’Rourke has charisma?

      Are you sure?

      Don’t think in absolute terms. Think “in comparison to John Kerry, HRC, Mike Dukakis, Walter Mondale, Elizabeth Warren, and all the other immediately off-putting and terminally unlikable people Team Blue typically nominates, the guy is the very model of Charisma.”

      1. He seems pretty unlikeable to me.

  4. O’Rourke, a capitalist?

    Haha, sure, why not. Maybe he was born a socialist but now “identifies” as a capitalist.

    1. Beto’s no capitalist. That he brings up the market to deal with global warming (I mean climate change) just shows he’s for government control of the market. And what he really means, is the government needs producers in a marketplace so the government can take their money. There’s no money in government running business, except for the politicians who pick winners and losers in the government controlled markets.

      So call it capitalism, while the government controls it. And “You can keep your plan”, “I did not have sexual relations with that woman”, “I didn’t have confidential emails on my server” and “My server wasn’t hacked”.

  5. Tulsi should be the choice of libertarians. Conservatives will seek out the status quo, though.

    1. Just out of curiosity, do you masturbate every time you get to defend her honor?

      1. I don’t think it’s humanely possible to do that so many times.

        1. lol you must be a soyboy. lol

          1. No, I do not support Beto

    2. Tulsi Gabbard is by far the worst Democrat running. The last thing we want to do is replace one Russian puppet with another one.

      If McCain were still alive, I’d vote for him over Gabbard.

      1. Settle down there, Welch

      2. Absolutely a Russian puppet. Did everyone know that Gabbard’s D.C. house is near a mall with a Macy’s? And the emblem of Macy’s is a Red Star? You know who else used a Red Star emblem?

        1. “A sex worker at the Kohls across the street from Macy’s holds the truth to the nefarious Russia-Macy collusion conspiracy…”

        2. The priests of the Temple of Syrinx.

        3. “You can trust your car to the man who wears the star, the big bright Texaco star!”

        4. Starfleet Command?

        5. These folks.

          Why, it’s their actual *name*.

      3. sounds like you should go ahead and write-in McCain then in your honorable estimations. Don’t give up on your hopes for Hillary/McCain genocide and creative failed states! Don’t foget to nuke all the countries that Hillary vowed; beginning with Russia, Iran, Syria. Why not Cuba on a day when the wind is blowing the right direction you bigot?

    3. Other than being the only Democrat to actually oppose war, she’s pretty retarded on every single other issue. What’s so libertarian about her that I’m missing?

  6. If you can look at the Green New Deal and not balk at the cost, then you not for fiscal constraint. If you can look at the Green New Deal and not object to the authoritarianism inherent, then you are no free marketeer.

  7. The guy’s a cotton-candy-brained pretty boy LARPing as a Hispanic Tejano, who got as much attention as he did primarily because he’s essentially the political version of the Rock N’ Roll Express.

    1. Don’t you dare insult Ricky and Robert like that

    2. Is he really pretty? Cause I’m not seeing it.

  8. “I don’t know….I’m not big on labels. I don’t get all fired up about party or classifying or defining people based on a label or a group. I’m for everyone.”

    Cowabunga, dude!

    1. This is a Teenage Stepdad meme waiting to happen.

    2. Policy kind of sucks too so let’s not harsh our buzz and bring that up.

  9. On the other hand O’Rourke also recently called the Green New Deal “the best proposal that I’ve seen to ensure that this planet does not warm another two degrees Celsius…”

    This as much as anything tells you O’Rourke is just as unserious about fiscal responsibility as any of them.

  10. “I’m a capitalist,” O’Rourke replied.

    If calling yourself a libertarian makes you a libertarian then calling yourself a capitalist makes you a capitalist.

    1. If calling yourself a libertarian makes you a libertarian then calling yourself a capitalist makes you a capitalist.

      LC1789 hardest hit.

    2. Luckily, we know SparkY and Circle are not Libertarians based on what they say on Reason.

      Actions do speak louder than words.

  11. “Everyone” loved Beto when he was running against the quintessential GOP boogeyman, Cruz.

    Beto knows he can’t beat Cornyn, a centrist Republican.

    So, he’s going to try his luck against Bernie and Kamala in a progressive primary. GLWT. Maybe he thinks he can outspend them, but as we learned last year …

      1. Kamala is Black Hillary, without a history of mysterious deaths tied to her shenanigans. That doesn’t make her a centrist so much as an entitled power-monger.

        1. Which pretty well describes the political establishment’s ideological center.

        2. “Kamala is Black Hillary, without a history of mysterious deaths tied to her shenanigans”

          Don’t sell her short. The day is still young.

      2. Nothing says Centrism like outlawing private payment to Drs, infanticide, and the Green New Deal

    1. Give him a break- he’s just trying to find himself. He apparently didn’t find himself in the Senate. Maybe he’ll find himself in the White House. Who knows?

  12. The Democrat nominee is not going to be a white male. The white guys can just stand down and not waste all that money and effort.

    1. Was looking for this comment. The democratic party, at this point, will simply not nominate someone who can’t win the intersectionality Olympics.

      1. Yeah, it does seem like they have decided that this is the year for a woman and that’s that.
        What they will probably do though is nominate another woman almost as awful as Hillary who will lose to Trump because they learned nothing from 2016.

        1. Is Cory Booker gay and black enough to get the nomination?

        2. Oprah 2020. It’s gonna happen……..or not.

    2. Yeah, but he pretends to be hispanic and because he’s a Democrat, that’s okay.

    3. It’s not wasted money at all for the candidate. It’s years of living off your donors’ funds. Perpetual candidates never have to have a real job or even get elected. Actually, I think there’s a fun political novel, if someone wants to write it.

  13. Like all principled libertarians, I’ll be voting for whoever gets the Democratic nomination. Beto is a solid choice, but he hasn’t done enough yet to make my top 3. Here are some things he could do to change that:

    Embrace the term “open borders” and make unrestricted immigration his defining issue.
    Emphasize how the Jussie Smollett attack proves the need for a federal anti-lynching law.
    Promise to expand the Supreme Court to at least 11 or 13 members.

    1. lol you’re good. keep it up!

    2. Promise to expand the Supreme Court to at least 11 or 13 members.

      But only if Democrats control the Senate! Mustn’t let those dastardly Republicans pick the judges!

    3. “Beto is a solid choice, but he hasn’t done enough yet to make my top 3. Here are some things he could do to change that:”

      Gender reassignment surgery?

      1. Race reassignment surgery?

      2. Just change his name to Justin Trudeau already?

      3. It doesn’t have to be so difficult. He just needs to identify as a woman.

    4. “Promise to expand the Supreme Court to at least 11 or 13 members.”

      This seems weak tea for a True Progressive. Shouldn’t a Worker’s Council be added to the Supreme Court to ensure that the People are properly represented?

      1. Nobody ever mentions that if FDR had packed the SCOTUS, why couldnt the next GOP controlled congress and Republican president just shrink the Supreme court?

    5. “Promise to expand the Supreme Court to at least 11 or 13 members.”

      Piker. Might as week pack it up to 51.

    6. I’m honestly not sure if you are posting such crap just for effect or if you really are that stupid.

  14. the Jussie Smollett attack proves the need for a federal anti-lunching law outside the designated hours.

  15. Can a Self-Described ‘Capitalist’ Win the 2020 Democratic Primary?

    A self-described socialist would have a better chance of winning the Repub nomination than someone who isn’t a ‘everything within the state’ fascist winning the D nom. I mean, look at who’s tossed their hat into the ring

    Harris

    Sanders

    Warren

    Klobuchar

    Booker

    Gabbard

    Klobuchar

    You know your party is pandering to a bunch of nuts when *Gabbard* looks like a sensible candidate next to them.

    Christ, I remember when ‘liberal’ was a slur. Now they’re practically allies.

  16. The better question is can you be considered a capitalist if you support government having absolute control over the economy. However, the answer to both questions is ‘no’.

    1. The better question is can you be considered a capitalist if you support government having absolute control over the economy.

      China, Inc., is a fairly aggressively Capitalist entity, no?

      “Capitalism” =/= Free Markets

  17. Beto earned his money the old-fashioned, American way… by marrying into the family of a wealthy heiress.

    1. Or, it was called true love. Money can’t buy love

  18. No.

    Someone didn’t pay attention to Beto getting savaged on the left when he wouldn’t label himself a “progressive”.

    I’ve never seen a political Golden boy lose luster with his fans so damned fast.

  19. I can’t get passed his cultural appropriation of the pet name “Beto”.
    (That and all the media testicular lapping).

    1. Yes, Bobby O’Rourke is white as the driven snow that has encumbered my town.

  20. “He’s also a comparatively lonely pro-trade voice in the Democratic field.”

    I would say that makes O’Rourke refreshingly consistent.

  21. He can call himself whatever he wants. We all know what he’d turn out to be if he ever got elected.

    1. He can call himself whatever he wants. We all know what he’d turn out to be if he ever got elected

      That’s basically what happened with Gillibrand-a “centrist” upstate NY Democrat who morphed into a Manhattan-style champagne socialist as soon as she became Senator.

      Robert O’Rourke wouldn’t be any different than an Austin Democrat if he took any kind of higher office.

      1. Bingo.

  22. Can a Mic who describes himself as Latino win?

    You sure can’t run in the DNC in 2020 as a White man.

    1. Unless you are angry, commie grandpa or possibly Joe Biden.

      1. The states Bernie won largely had significant white majorities on the northern tier of the US. Hillary kicked his ass in states with significant minority populations.

        1. The Witch manipulated the entire election process. If she had won, we’d both be in a FEMA Camp, you’d be speaking the majority language (Arabic or Spanish), and this Forum would be shut down.

          1. Or the progtards would be in the process of rapidly being deposited into landfills, face down.

    2. Biden is pretty much the last one who will be able to pull that off. Beto is going to get shat on if he’s seen as standing in the way of any POCs after 2020.

      1. You’d think the Democrats would want to run a more mature version and not a Proof of Concept in this election.

        1. Socialism had never Failed, it just hasn’t had the correct Proof of Concept yet.

  23. “Can a Self-Described ‘Capitalist’ Win the 2020 Democratic Primary?”

    Possibly. Can someone who truly believes in free- markets win the 2020 Democratic Primary? Hell no.

  24. “I’m not big on labels. I don’t get all fired up about party or classifying or defining people based on a label or a group. I’m for everyone.”

    So, a Laid-Back Everyoneist, then?

  25. He buys in to AlGoreWarming . Ergo he denies Newton’s Law of Gravity .

  26. There are no supporters of capitalism in the Democrat Party. There are only those that understand slaves don’t produce unless you let them eat, sleep and have a little time to themselves. But you still own them. They are nicely chained. It’s just a matter of being practical. Even Ocasio-Cortez understands that.

    They are all advocates of the Third Way. They learned the lesson of the collapse of communism; not so much that it was nuts but that you can’t kill the golden goose and advance the agenda.

  27. Stephen Colbert has a boner for Beto; elite white privileged toxic males stick together.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_CQEIvzjyDQ

  28. “White Male Privileged” article LOL — Saw that coming a mile away before even getting to that part in the article.

    He might have a chance if he was Black, Gay and Transgender. The left is FAR too racists and sexist to embrace any border line ideology not coming from the right color, sex or gender identity. I could be wrong; we’ll see just how far he does go.

  29. Why does Welch always feel compelled to bury us in links?

    1. Revenge for Gilmore’s old critiques of his fashion choices?

  30. harnessing the power of the market

    “harnessing”?

    Fuck off, slaver.

    -jcr

    1. Well put! +1000

  31. You’ll have to promise some reform of Capitalism. The inequality may have gotten too large and the political influence of wealth must be dealt with. Since the 80’s, the standard of living has fallen. Capital has been way too important and powerful, and that capital has been cheapened by the Fed. The average person has no access to the Fed window. The elite have have bought up so many assets that they have cannibalized the middle-class. I don’t know if you can save it. There are only two outcomes from an historical viewpoint. Either the people will elect Socialists or you will have a Bastille Day. With either outcome, the wealthy will be a target.

    1. I agree that reforms are needed. Like the stock market, it is time for a correction to put capitalism back on solid footing. It will not get there by catering to the wealthiest. The strength of capitalism is the middle class. Beto and other Democrats are speaking to the middle class. Because socialism is not providing health care. Socialism is sugar subsidies, building private stadium with public money, and borrowing money for tax cuts.

      1. Beto and other Democrats are speaking to the middle class.

        Nothing in their agenda speaks to the middle class. It’s catering to their ghetto/barrio base and wealthy/upper-middle class leader caste.

        If you want to see where the Democrat’s current agenda leads, take a look at what’s been going on in France the last 15 weeks.

  32. OK, Beto can be said to be an extension of that proud Texas Democrat tradition in the form of Molly Ivins and LBJ. Beto explain his positions in a way that primary voters can make informed choices.

    1. Ask if he is able to differentiate capitalism from Corporatism (in the Mussolini coinage). Will he join in the part of New Green Deal that promises to reverse the legal definiton of corporations as individuals?

    2. Will he commit to holding Boards of Directors personally responsible for breaking criminal law?

    3. Call him to repudiate superdelegate system in DNC 100% along with all other candidates including Progressives. Yes, the DNC made ‘some improvement ‘however, ”
    Boris Jones
    “… the so-called superdelegate “reforms” didn’t change a thing of substance, as Donna Brazile rushed to assure the Democratic Party’s corporate donors. “We will still have a seat at the table and the ability to set the menu,” she told them. Corporate money still rules the party…

    4. Is he willing to commit himself to real campaign reform by providing 100% public funding for all Federal elections?

    5.Call him to further reafirm 14th Amendment Equal Protection principle in the face of ubiquitous corporate lobbying. Will he repudiate for-profit prisons, for example, whose profits depend on filling “vacancies” and then lobby against prison reform. Will he and all other Dem candidates embrace Libertarian initiative to label all drug abuse as a medical problem, to decriminalize all drugs.

    1. OK, Beto can be said to be an extension of that proud Texas Democrat tradition in the form of Molly Ivins and LBJ.

      LBJ was an old-school Democrat; Molly was a communist.

  33. “challenger’s charisma and inclusive uplift. This quality, otherwise elusive on the Democratic primary side so far (with the possible partial exception of California Sen. Kamala Harris),”

    You used the word ‘charisma’ as if it were a feature of Kamala Harris. I don’t think that word means what you think it means.

  34. Can we leave the “democratic” off the “socialism”, please? The end result is the same- they both end up in enslavement of the people. The only difference is with “democratic socialism” 51% of the people instead of just a few choose to enslave 100% of the people.

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  36. I am very disappointed that we are starting to define progressivism as more and more towards “socialism”. Bernie self-identifies as a “democratic socialist” when in fact that term pretty much describes no country in the world. He claims Norway and Denmark, but what I say to that is: they are capitalist countries with significant degrees of social welfare (in other words: a SOCIAL DEMOCRACY). He is not a socialist. Stop calling yourself that!

    1. Are you pissed off because you’re a socialist, a Sanders supporter, or a Scandinavian?

      Who cares what Sanders calls himself? Cut through the self-serving labels; Sanders is an authoritarian selling the old snake oil that you can be free in the presence of a state powerful enough to supply all your material needs.

  37. Pelosi is perhaps the most powerful politician in Washington now. She’s about as Capitalist as they come.

  38. “On the other hand O’Rourke also recently called the Green New Deal “the best proposal that I’ve seen to ensure that this planet does not warm another two degrees Celsius,” despite the plan’s jaw-dropping cost and progressive grab-bagging. And he has said in the past that a “single-payer Medicare-for-all program is the best way to ensure all Americans get the healthcare they need,” despite the country’s inability to afford even the Medicare we already have.”

    There are plenty of stupid ‘capitalists’, and it looks like we have another.

  39. Is Welch a member of the Beto army of beta’s?

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