Who is Beto O’Rourke?
Robert Francis O’Rourke, better known as “Beto O’Rourke”, won the primary elections in March of 2018, becoming the Democratic party nominee for United States Senator for Texas. O’Rourke is challenging incumbent Republican Party member Ted Cruz, who has held office since 2013. This campaign may prove to be difficult, given that Texans have not elected a Democrat to statewide office since 1994.
Beto O’Rourke was most likely introduced into civic and political matters by his father, Patrick O’Rourke, who served as a county commissioner from 1978-82 and a county judge from 1982-86 in El Paso. However, he has not always been a groomed politician. In the 1990s, Beto has been open about his role as bass player in a punk rock band, Foss.
As a fourth-generation Texan, O’Rourke was born and raised in El Paso. He returned to his hometown to begin a technology company which has since become a thriving success. Beyond his company, O’Rourke ran for El Paso City Council in 2005 and served for two terms before running for U.S. Congress in 2012. Today, O’Rourke is the U.S. representative for the 16th congressional district in El Paso.
During this time, O’Rourke has served on numerous committees, including the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Veterans’ Affairs, as well as its subcommittees on Emerging Threats and Capabilities and Strategic Forces, and Health and Economic Opportunity.
O’Rourke’s Stance on Health Care, Welfare/Poverty
In terms of health care for all Texans, O’Rourke plans to achieve universal health care coverage- ensuring that providers deliver health care in the most affordable, effective way possible. Specifically, he intends to expand and protect Medicaid- this will guarantee coverage for vulnerable children, the disabled and the elderly. Furthermore, the Congressman hopes to use the government’s purchasing power to lower premiums and prescription drugs, making health care more affordable for everyone.
The Congressman also sponsored maintaining the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) which provides millions of eligible individuals and/or families a monthly wage to purchase nutritious groceries.
O’Rourke’s Stance on Education
The Windfall Elimination Provision (WEP) affects Social Security benefits for people who are eligible for both Social Security and government pensions. The majority of Texas school districts do not partake in Social Security, and the WEP essentially strips any participating Texas educators of Social Security benefits. The original formula used to figure Social Security benefits provided low-income workers with a larger percentage of their pre-retirement earnings than high-income workers. The WEP modifies the formula so that high-income individuals now receive a larger percentage of their pre-retirement earnings as opposed to low-income workers. Because of this, O’Rourke feels that doing away with the WEP would protect the retirement of all Texas educators and restore the original goals of Social Security.
O’Rourke strongly advocates for equal education among young students. He plans for more pre-school curriculum and allotting zero public tax dollars to be given to private schools. Beyond the classroom, O’Rourke aims to strike down legislation, such as Senate Bill 6, that discriminates against a student based on their sexual orientation or gender identity.
O’Rourke also believes that sex education should be offered for sexually-active adolescents. This will create an environment of proactivity rather than reactivity, taking into account the mental, emotional and physical well-being of young adults.
O’Rourke’s Stance on Women’s Healthcare
O’Rourke promotes the concept of My Body My Choice. In considering himself a pro-choice advocate, he supports “policies that guarantee a woman’s access to birth control and emergency contraception,” according to Beto For Texas. Regardless of the situation, the Congressman hopes to ensure all women have access to safe, legal abortions without restriction.
O’Rourke’s Stance on Technology
The H.R. 624- Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was a bill introduced into the House of Representatives in 2013. The proposal asks government agencies, businesses and other organizations to share information about cybersecurity threats with one another. Given so, there is a notable lack of civil protections required in H.R. 624. Because of this, O’Rourke voted NO to the passing of this bill. Alongside his opposition to the Act, Representative Zoe Lofgren said, “CISPA would override all other privacy laws, and allow a private company to share nearly anything–from the contents of private emails to medical records–as long as it “directly pertains to” a broadly defined “cyber threat,” as reported by On The Issues.
O’Rourke’s Stance on Crime, Civil Rights, Gun Control, Drugs
Contrary to the myth that Democrats want to strip all citizens of firearms, O’Rourke simply suggests “required background checks for all gun sales to ensure that firearms only get into the hands of responsible, law-abiding individuals.” To do so, he believes we must close the Boyfriend Loophole. Gun violence is currently being curbed by numerous stipulations, including the Lautenberg Amendment, which prohibits people convicted of certain domestic violence crimes from buying or owning guns. To summarize, those who may not qualify for firearm purchases include people who are currently, or were once, married to their victim, live with their victim, have a child with their victim, or are a parent or guardian of their victim. However, this outline leaves a blatant loophole. Stalkers or past/current dating partners may buy or own guns, placing survivors of domestic violence at higher risk. A recent study shows, “that nationwide, 93 percent of women killed by men were murdered by someone they knew and that the most common weapon used was a gun.”
O’Rourke also advocates for legislation that would provide the same non-discrimination protections to LGBTQIA+ Americans as any other protected class under federal law, such as race, color, religion, sex, national origin, disability and familial status. O’Rourke also supports policies that would end wage discrimination and close the gender pay gap.
El Paso’s City Representatives, Susie Byrd and Beto O’Rourke, began to ask questions about why El Paso’s sister city Ciudad Juárez has become the deadliest city in the world. In 2011, they released a collaborative book, Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico. In this novel, they express the necessity of decriminalizing the possession or use of recreational marijuana. They argue that the prohibition of marijuana has created a black market that drug kingpins are profiting off of, further enabling their power against drug control. In the Afterword of Dealing Death and Drugs: The Big Business of Dope in the U.S. and Mexico, they states that, “If Washington won’t do anything different, if Mexico City won’t do anything different, then it is up to us — the citizens of the border who understand the futility and tragedy of this current policy first hand — to lead the way.”
O’Rourke’s Stance on Immigration, Foreign Policy, War/Peace
Once in America, undocumented immigrants face a strict agency. O’Rourke aims to end the militarization of our immigration enforcement system and close for-profit, private immigration prisons and detention centers.
O’Rourke supports the passing of the DREAM Act to assure that ‘Dreamers’, undocumented immigrants who were brought to America as children, find a permanent home and citizenship in the U.S. For many, the term ‘country of origin’ becomes subjective.
Furthermore, O’Rourke opposes requiring undocumented immigrants to return to their country of origin before they are eligible for citizenship. This can mean protection for people in numerous ways. For example, if an immigrant had fled their country of origin due to extreme violence that posed a threat to their or their family’s safety, it may be dangerous to return while applying for US citizenship. “[He hopes to] ensure that those who come to our borders seeking refuge from violence and persecution are given a fair opportunity to present their claims and guaranteed due process under our laws,” states Beto For Texas.
“The alternative, as Cruz has proposed, is to deport 11 million people from this country,” O’Rourke said. “Imagine the cost, imagine the stain on this country for generations moving forward.”
Moreover, House Democrats called on the Trump Administration to “immediately take action and reinstate U.S. funding to alleviate the growing humanitarian crisis in Gaza. The lack of adequate medical care, clean water, reliable electricity, and other necessities has created a complex humanitarian and security crisis.” In a letter to the Honorable Mike Pompeo, Secretary of State and Ambassador John Bolton, Assistant to the President of National Security Affairs. As a member of Congress, O’Rourke took part in this official call to action. Collectively, Congress urged them to once again allocate proper contributions for humanitarian programs organized by the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees (UNRWA).
O’Rourke’s Stance on Government Reform
One of O’Rourke’s goals is to increase voter participation and restore political efficacy. Taking steps in that direction, he co-sponsored H.R.12 which grants automatic voter registration for all citizens. “[The bill] requires each state to make available official public websites for online voter registration, authorizes automated voter registration and establishes same-day registration,” as stated by its Congressional Summary. It also states that “voter registration of individuals under 18 years of age, and declares that the right to vote shall not be denied because that individual has been convicted of a criminal offense.” This would lessen the number of eligible citizens who try to vote on Election Day yet cannot because their names are not on the voter rolls. To further increase voter participation, O’Rourke also wants to do away with requiring photo identification at the polls. It is believed that requiring ID suppresses potential voters.
O’Rourke’s Stance on Economy
O’Rourke aims to promote transparency and fairness in the market. In doing so, the Congressman endorses policies that encourage companies to focus on returning investments back to their consumer, their employees, and to the community. O’Rourke also strives to lower the entry barrier for small businesses so that all entrepreneurs and growing companies can have an opportunity to be successful. Furthermore, he supports stronger antitrust regulations intended to break down monopolies and trusts that stifle competition and the economy.
Be sure to be registered for the Tarrant County Mid-Term Elections voting on Nov. 6. Early voting for this election runs from Oct. 22-Nov. 2.
Read more about what will be on the ballot at the voting polls here.