Another brick in the wall

Beto Mania

I  understand running for office is daunting. Besides the time and financial commitment, it opens one up to a level of public scrutiny that most people want nothing to do with. It’s impossible to come up with a policy agenda that pleases everyone, and if politicians try to seek middle ground, they’re often accused of being “fake.”

That being said, it’s very hard not to make fun of Democratic 2020 candidate Beto O’Rourke’s recent Vanity Fair profile. To be fair, it’s not completely O’Rourke’s fault. I doubt he chose to pose in front of a rural road with mountains in the background, next to a dog and his Toyota Tundra, as though O’Rourke is a country music star instead of a candidate for president. Writer Joe Hagan chose to include details about O’Rourke’s interior decorating choices, as though that has anything to do with running for president.

Hagan also chose to include a quote from an ex-girlfriend of O’Rourke’s, “That’s kind of the mystique of Beto, is that he seems to be accessible… but there’s just this layer of protection,” as though O’Rourke is the hero in a romance novel.

These points specifically relate to a point I brought up in a previous column–that the line between celebrities and political figures is increasingly blurring. This phenomenon results in some supporters romanticizing politicians the way other people would with rock stars or movie stars.

O’Rourke himself doesn’t appear to be dissuading this type of rhetoric though. Seemingly referring to his run for president, O’Rourke said, “Man, I’m just born to be in it,” perhaps hinting that he is somehow predestined to be president. When asked if he was a progressive, O’Rourke said, “I’m not into the labels,” the same response of, say, someone who shops at Urban Outfitters and doesn’t like being referred to as a “hipster.”

It’s possible O’Rourke will be a serious contender in the Democratic primary, as a recent Monmouth poll had him ranked fourth out of 16 candidates. Hopefully, as the 2020 presidential race moves forward, journalists covering O’Rourke and other candidates will be more interested in policy positions instead of where O’Rourke rented the van he drove in Iowa, unlike a group of MSNBC reporters last week.

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