Beto O’Rourke rallies with Willie Nelson, as Democrats keep eyes on Texas
Interested in Midterm Elections? Add Midterm Elections as an interest to stay up to date on the latest Midterm Elections news, video, and analysis from ABC News. Midterm Elections Add Interest In many ways Austin, Texas, was the last place Beto O’Rourke should have been with just over a month left until a pivotal U.S. Senate election .
The deep-blue city, smack dab in the middle of a deep-red state, likely doesn’t have many of the undecided voters the Democrat, whose aggressive challenge to GOP Sen. Ted Cruz has become somewhat of a national fascination, needs to win this November.
“This close to the election, the last county he needs to be in is Travis. I think he’s got it in the bag,” Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith said as he introduced O’Rourke at a question-and-answer session Saturday prior to the congressman’s speech and get-out-the-vote rally with country music legend Willie Nelson.
Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via Reuters
Rep. Beto O’Rourke makes a statement during a debate with Sen. Ted Cruz (not shown) at the Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, Sept. 21, 2018.
But as with many things about the El Paso congressman’s improbably competitive campaign, unorthodox seems to be the status quo.
So in front of a crowd estimated at 55,000 people, a truly impressive number for a U.S. Senate race, with the Austin skyline behind him, O’Rourke fired up the crowd with an impassioned speech ticking off a checklist of policies that are simultaneously in line with most of the progressive resurgence within the Democratic Party in 2018, but unique to his Texas-centric campaign: the legalization of marijuana, a renewed focus on climate change and leadership on LGBTQ issues. Later, the congressman capped off the night with a rendition of “On the Road Again” with Nelson and his family band.
Nelson himself debuted a new song he called “Vote ’em Out,” telling the crowd, “If you don’t like who’s in there, vote ’em out. That’s what Election Day is all about. And the biggest gun we got, is called the ballot box, if you don’t like who’s in there, vote ’em out.”
And here’s @WillieNelson , who played a new song for the crowd at Auditorium Shores in Austin called “Vote ‘Em Out.” pic.twitter.com/izIndd3iWo
— Madlin Mekelburg (@madlinbmek) September 30, 2018
The ultimate success of O’Rourke’s progressive pitch to Texas’ more far-flung reaches is a test of his own communicative skills and the appeal of that platform to a broader and decidedly un-liberal audience outside the urban enclaves like Austin and the congressman’s home city of El Paso.
A woman holds up a sign supporting Beto O’Rourke at an event in Eagle Pass, Texas, Sept. 22, 2018.
(MORE: Ted Cruz, Beto O’Rourke spar in first debate of key Texas race)
The embrace of those progressive policies is a gamble on a state that has changed drastically in the last two decades — becoming younger and more diverse — but one that Democrats have not scored a statewide victory in since 1994. If it fails it will be held up as an example of the limitations and shortcomings of Democratic appeal in states like Texas, but even a race that winds up within a few points will indicate just how far Democrats can go with the right candidate delivering a genuine message.
It’s a gamble that early on in the campaign was scoffed at by Cruz and his campaign, who have sought to paint O’Rourke as an irresponsible liberal, hammering home an economic and cultural message that includes a vehement defense of the Republican tax cuts, a hard-line pitch on immigration that includes support for building a wall on the southern border, and a healthy dose of tongue-in-cheek humor that included the senator ominously warning that O’Rourke wants to turn Texas into California, “right down to the tofu and silicon and dyed hair.”
But at the last debate between the two in Dallas, Cruz conceded that “We have a real race in the state of Texas.”
Tom Fox/The Dallas Morning News via AP
Sen. Ted Cruz takes part in a debate for the Texas U.S. Senate with Democratic Rep. Beto O’Rourke, in Dallas, Sept. 21, 2018.
Hyperbole and jokes aside, Cruz’s pitch is tailored to a decidedly different swath of the state’s electorate, which the GOP is quick to say will likely re-elect its Republican incumbent governor by a wide margin this cycle. A Democratic candidate for the U.S. Senate in Texas hasn’t earned more than 43 percent of the vote this millennium.
In some ways O’Rourke’s campaign embodies the debate raging within the Democratic Party about the need for a new generation of leadership and a real commitment to policies it remains skittish about adopting wholeheartedly, like Medicare for All, which O’Rourke says he backs.
When @peta protested my town hall—and gave away barbecued tofu—I joked that was because if Beto won, he’d ban BBQ. Lefty commentators and reporters have been melting down, screaming “not true.” Uh, guys, put your trigger warnings down; it’s just a joke! pic.twitter.com/os8eXXHS4U
— Ted Cruz (@tedcruz) September 18, 2018
But in other ways the candidate tries to shirk partisanship all together.
“If you’re a Republican, we say you’re in the right place, if you’re a Democrat we want you here, Independents welcome,” O’Rourke said, a version of a line he often repeats on the campaign trail.
When asked to place himself on the progressive-establishment spectrum of the Democratic Party, O’Rourke demurs: “I place myself in Texas,” he says.
It’s an unspecific answer, but one that reiterates that he is running a campaign convinced that the voters it needs to attract and turn out are mostly ones uninterested in political tribalism and adhering to the party line.
Recent polls have shown Cruz maintaining a slight edge over O’Rourke, but FiveThirtyEight and other election analysts rate the race as a “Toss-Up,” adding fuel to Democratic hopes that this 2018 is the year they finally break through.
It’s a question that O’Rourke himself acknowledges he does not have the answer to.
“I don’t know that I’m the one, but I think this is the year, and we are the people,” O’Rourke said as he spoke of campaigning in Republican-dominated towns like Abilene, towns that glow such a deep shade of red “you can see it glowing from outer space.”
Texas is a state full of complications, contradictions and complex history, and the race between O’Rourke and Cruz, men just two years apart in age, is much the same. It is a race that features a white man with a Hispanic nickname given to him as an infant taking on a Hispanic man named Rafael that instead goes by the name of Ted.
Ted Cruz and Beto O’Rourke election signs are seen near downtown Carizzo Springs, Texas, Sept. 5, 2018.
(MORE: In Trump era, Beto O’Rourke eyes an end to Republican grip on Texas)
It features a Democratic candidate that often warns of how technology has made our society disconnected and disjointed from one another, but vaulted to the national consciousness in part because of his campaign’s effective use of social media and seemingly non-stop string of livestreams and viral clips of his speeches.
It’s those confounding and fascinating things about Texas, a state that has been at the forefront of so many of the most politically charged issues that have taken on a new level of urgency in the era of President Donald Trump — from immigration to health care to gun violence — that have captured the attention of not just people across the country, but also some of the most prominent members of the Democratic Party, who are eyeing it as a bellwether for how big a supposed wave may be this cycle.
“There are a lot of races. … This one is just kind of a sleeper race that came up where everyone is awake,” Minnesota Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar said this weekend.
Democratic member of Committee Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., questions the Republican side on Monday, April 3, 2017, on Capitol Hill in Washington.
“If Beto O’Rourke wins in Texas, the indication is … we definitely have the Senate,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi predicted.
Republicans both in and out of Texas say the congressman’s carefully orchestrated rise from local councilman who unseated a longtime Democratic incumbent to earn his seat in Congress, to U.S. Senate hopeful demonstrates that his campaign is nothing more than a liberal cause célèbre. But there are some high-profile members of the GOP who have expressed concern that Cruz is just now taking the race seriously.
(MORE: In Trump era, Beto O’Rourke eyes an end to Republican grip on Texas)
“We’re not bluffing, this is real, and it is a serious threat,” Cruz’s Texas colleague and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn told Politico last month . “If Ted does his job and we do ours, I think we’ll be fine. But if we have donors sitting on the sidelines thinking that, ‘Well, this isn’t all that serious,’ or ‘I don’t need to be concerned,’ then that’s a problem.”
A new rush of money has begun to flood into the state from conservative groups like Texans Are , giving more credence to the idea that the GOP knows the race will be close heading into the final weeks.
‘Their eyes got as big as saucers’ The concern among Republicans has also trickled down to competitive House races across the state as well. Democrats are eyeing no less than five GOP-held congressional seats this cycle, fielding candidates that, like O’Rourke, are pitching themselves as harbingers of a new direction for the Democratic Party.
“We know we are being tested, who are we as Texans? … We’re asking some of those existential questions,” Gina Ortiz Jones, the Democrat in Texas’ 23rd Congressional District, which spans some 800 miles along the U.S.-Mexico border, against Republican Rep. Will Hurd, said Saturday at another Texas Tribune moderated panel in Austin.
But tested also are those candidates’ willingness to commit to that change within the leadership of their party. Jones and four other Democratic congressional candidates alongside her — Collin Allred, MJ Hegar, Joseph Kopser and Lizzie Pannill-Fletcher — were asked if they’d support Pelosi as the next Speaker of the House if the party retakes the House in November.
Taylor Hill/Getty Images
Willie Nelson recites The Lord’s Prayer to open Farm Aid 2018 at Xfinity Theater on Sept. 22, 2018 in Hartford, Conn.
Earlier that day Pelosi said she anticipated that she “will be the person with the gavel” come November.
All of the candidates bristled at the problem, most saying it’s not one they get from voters on the campaign trail, and four of the five said they are waiting to see who throws their name in the ring, while Kopser was the only one to say definitively that he will not support Pelosi if elected.
(MORE: Beto O’Rourke comes to Ted Cruz’s defense after restaurant confrontation with protesters)
But all five, like O’Rourke, say the way to win this cycle is to show up in areas where Democrats have feared to tread in the past.
“Their eyes got as big as saucers, because they’re not used to seeing a Democrat show up that far out,” Kopser, who is running in the open seat currently held by GOP Rep. Lamar Smith, said about approaching a Republican float at a Fourth of July parade in a rural Texas county.
The final month Cruz and O’Rourke were set to debate for the second time on Sunday, but the event was postponed due to the uncertain vote schedule and drama surrounding the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh to the U.S. Supreme Court.
That and one additional debate, plus a looming visit promised by Trump, will be key moments in the contest’s final days.
I will be doing a major rally for Senator Ted Cruz in October. I’m picking the biggest stadium in Texas we can find. As you know, Ted has my complete and total Endorsement. His opponent is a disaster for Texas – weak on Second Amendment, Crime, Borders, Military, and Vets!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 31, 2018
As the final month of the campaign approaches, there will be no shortage of speculation and prognostication about what the race means for Democrats and Republicans in the era of Trump and beyond.
But predictions don’t mean much to the millions of Texans primed to take to the ballot box this year and create yet another chapter in the state’s eccentric and unique political history.
Beto O’Rourke rallies with Willie Nelson, as Democrats keep eyes on Texas Trump’s
‘Venom’: First Reactions Released Online
‘Venom’: First Reactions Released Online By Jenna Anderson 1
Marvel fans have been curious to see how Venom comes together, and it looks like the first indication of it has officially arrived.
Early reactions for Venom have made their way online, following a series of press screenings and the film’s official premiere. The film will follow Eddie Brock (Tom Hardy) as he becomes inhabited by the titular symbiote while investigating Carlton Drake (Riz Ahmed) and the Life Foundation.
Venom has a surprising amount of stakes riding on it, thanks to it being the inaugural entry in Sony’s Universe of Marvel characters. Even though the film is tracking relatively well in the box office, its overall reception will be another major indication of where things could go.
So, what are critics and fans saying about Venom , ahead of its October 5th premiere? Read on to find out. Slide 1 of 10 There are definitely some highlights… Action-sequences and Eddie and Venom’s odd relationship are the highlights of #Venom but if Sony wants to move forward with a universe, it needs to just keep the few parts that work and scrap the large portion which does t. â Brandon Davis (@BrandonDavisBD) October 2, 2018 Tom Hardy as Eddie Brock and #Venom has some really entertaining moments. A clunky script without nuance bogs the #Venom down, preventing it from choosing between being gritty, funny, or something unique. â Brandon Davis (@BrandonDavisBD) October 2, 2018 Slide 2 of 10 Interesting, to say the least. Iâm *fascinated* with VENOM. The cast seems to all know theyâre in a darker superhero movie, except Tom Hardy who is basically remaking Jim Carreyâs Liar Liar. I kinda loved watching this movie, in a Rocky Horror type of way. At one point Tom Hardy and Venom make out. â Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) October 2, 2018 Slide 3 of 10 “Catwoman level bad” #Venom is Catwoman level bad, with Tom Hardy’s worst performanceÂ since This Means War.DON’T SEE THE MOVIE! â Daniel R (@DanielRPK) October 2, 2018 Slide 4 of 10 It’s….different. It’s…not a complete disaster? At least I was never mad watching it? But it is an excruciatingly surreal experience. The humor, the story beats, everything right down to the Eminem theme song feels like it emerged Kimmy Schmidt style from a sealed off early 00s bunker. â The Mothmeg đ NYCC (@rustypolished) October 2, 2018 Anyway, your mileage is really, really going to vary on this one. There are genuinely some echos of clever ideas but…man. If there’s one superhero franchise that’s having a killer couple years, it’s Spider-Man. No matter how you slice it, Venom is a major non sequitur. â The Mothmeg đ NYCC (@rustypolished) October 2, 2018 Slide 5 of 10 Tom Hardy is solid #Venom wasnât as bad as everyone was saying it was going to be. Tom Hardy is and always will be a great actor, and I laughed a lot â but Iâm not sure whether that was intentional or not. Post-credit scene is đĽ â Beatrice Verhoeven (@bverhoev) October 2, 2018 Slide 6 of 10 Don’t get your hopes up. Sorry to say that #Venom is pretty much a complete failure – a tonal mess that feels 15 years old, ignoring the storytelling strides that the superhero genre has made in recent years.
A few fun Venom-centric moments aside, it has nearly nothing to offer. Don’t get your hopes up. â Tom Horrorgensen (@Tom_Jorgensen) October 2, 2018 Slide 7 of 10 There’s some serious charm here. Significant chunks of #Venom donât work *at all* but there is some serious charm to the Eddie/Venom relationship. Not sure I had the intended reactions to some scenes but fun is fun – even when itâs totally ridiculous, right? Itâs too bad they didnât go for the R rating though. â Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) October 2, 2018 Slide 8 of 10 This could go one of two ways… Tom Hardy’s performance in #Venom is either Johnny Depp in the first PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN or Chris Klein in STREET FIGHTER: THE LEGEND OF CHUN-LI. Either way, it’s not boring. â Scott Mendelson (@ScottMendelson) October 2, 2018 Slide 9 of 10 Double feature? #VENOM and #UPGRADE are going to make a v interesting Tom Hardy/Logan Marshall-Green-comically-finding-themselves-not-in-control-of-their-own-body-while-arguing-with-the-voices-in-their-heads double feature one day â jen yamato (@jenyamato) October 2, 2018 Slide 10 of 10 At least it’s better than The Emoji Movie! Venom. Venom is better
‘Good And Mad’ Explores Women’s Anger At A Pivotal Moment : NPR
Enlarge this image Dozens of protesters, including sexual assault survivor Mary Jane Maestras of Delta, Colo., demonstrate against the appointment of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh. Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images hide caption
toggle caption Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Dozens of protesters, including sexual assault survivor Mary Jane Maestras of Delta, Colo., demonstrate against the appointment of Supreme Court nominee Judge Brett Kavanaugh.
Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images Months ago, I was asked to review Rebecca Traister’s Good And Mad: The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger .
“What timing ,” I thought, as I read the book while red-robed handmaidens protested Brett Kavanaugh’s Supreme Court nomination confirmation hearings .
“Maybe Traister will have to write an afterword about this ,” I thought, as Serena Williams touched off a global conversation during the U.S. Open final about which women are allowed to express anger — and when.
Good and Mad The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger
by Rebecca Traister
Hardcover, 284 pages Good and Mad Subtitle The Revolutionary Power of Women’s Anger Author Rebecca Traister “Oh, definitely about this,” I thought, as multiple men accused of sexual misconduct mulled their comebacks. A couple of them resurfaced with blisteringly tone-deaf essays in (ostensibly) respected publications.
As I sat writing this review, the TV on my desk was tuned to Christine Blasey Ford’s testimony accusing Brett Kavanaugh of assault. Shortly thereafter, an acquaintance took to Facebook to furiously spill out the brutal details of her own rape. A close friend started an email thread to our circle of female college buddies with the subject line “Angry Anger with Anger on Top.”
Which is to say — it’s easy to imagine that now is an even more fitting moment for Good and Mad than Traister herself may have imagined when she wrote it.
It hardly even needs saying that women’s anger (more from one party than the other) has been roiling since the 2016 election. Good and Mad is one of a few new releases taking on the formidable task of exploring the intersection of politics and anger.
And Traister is trying to do a lot in her 250 pages. She writes in the introduction that her goal is to explore “the specific nexus of women’s anger and American politics , about how the particular dissatisfactions and resentments of America’s women have often ignited movements for social change and progress.”
But there’s much more here than that. She also illustrates the many ways that American society shuns angry women, convincing them that their rage is impolite, unattractive, or even unhealthy. This point is made over and over, but it doesn’t get repetitive or tiresome, so much as that it hammers home just how pervasive the phenomenon is.
Traister also writes that she’s trying to provide women with validation for whatever rage they are currently feeling . Her book’s final line: “Don’t ever let them talk you out of being mad again.”
In covering all that ground, she has done her research — the book is thick with citations of other books, as well as interviews with candidates, activists, and longtime politicians. That said, her book is not a detached chronicling of women’s anger in American history. She, at times, injects her own opinions and experiences into some of the stories, as well as her own politics — Traister is a liberal, and the book is unmistakably so.
Traister effectively conveys that women’s anger has shaped America, and also that much of it is mischaracterized or ignored in popular accounts of history.
There’s an explanation of how women of the temperance movement weren’t all a bunch of hectoring moralists; many were also seeking a way to stop men from beating their wives. Or that the same Rosa Parks who quietly refused to give up a bus seat was also an outspoken anti-rape activist — and that at the age of 10, she picked up a brick and threatened a white boy who was attacking her. Or that women, not just men, were present and resisting police in the Stonewall Riots.
The book ranges across centuries of American history, with chapters exploring different facets of women’s anger: one on how it often disguises itself as sadness or humor or religious fervor; another on how women politicians are penalized for daring to get publicly upset; another on racial divisions among contemporary feminists; and many others.
History For Years, Anita Hill Was A ‘Canary In The Coal Mine’ For Women Speaking Out Because those topics often bleed into each other and are hard to disentangle, this all contributes to one weakness of Good and Mad : It’s a book that reads best when consumed one chapter at a time.
I finished a chapter examining media responses to anger in powerful women like Hillary Clinton and Michelle Obama, then jumped into a new chapter about how women hide their anger — which moved from the temperance movement to Upton Sinclair to Sen. Patty Murray to Emmett Till — then hopped into another chapter, also about hiding anger (this time with humor), that started with Rep. Pat Schroeder and moved on to Flo Kennedy. More than a few times, I found myself wondering where I was again.
Which is to say, it feels more like a string of essays than a single narrative of women’s anger in American history.
But those essays are impressively crafted, and it’s a testament to Traister’s talent that it’s easy to shrug and continue reading in the maelstrom of history she brings together.
Even if you occasionally lose the thread, Traister excels at consistently throwing out insights that are so clean that they seem like you had them in your head in the first place.
Any woman who has tried to candy-coat her fury in jokes will punch the air at Traister’s description of how she has done it, too:
“Even when things were bad, a non-confrontational approach was preferable, for strategic, aesthetic, and moral reasons. So I was funny! And playful, cheeky, ironic, knowing! I worked to make it clear that I am a fun person who enjoys friends and beer and laughter. I took great care to be nice and respectful to opposing viewpoints. … Many of us who may have covered our fury in humor have occasionally found ourselves exploding.”
And that’s one of many nod-furiously-along moments. There’s also the unsettling sense that sex-positive feminism has often been “a strategic attempt to obscure or distract from more unpleasant challenges to male power.” And the frustration you feel when you’re practically glowing with rage — and it comes out as tears.
One of Traister’s other greatest strengths is that she has been intentional about bringing in a range of voices — especially black women . She lucidly picks apart just how much more difficult it is to navigate anger as a black woman, but also expands out to investigate the racial divisions within mainstream feminism that many white feminists are only beginning to grasp.
But her intersectionality also highlights a group of women that is largely left out of her examination of contemporary politics: conservative women.
To be clear, this is not to prescribe that the book should split its time equally between Democratic and Republican women, or even close to equally. The overwhelming brunt of the political anger in America right now has been from women who are left of center.
The Week’s Best Stories From NPR Books Single By Choice: Why Fewer American Women Are Married Than Ever Before But an exploration of women’s anger is not comprehensive if it doesn’t chart out the full terrain of that anger — and that means talking to women in the party that is much less angry now.
Beth Moore and Jen Hatmaker , for example, are just two examples of white evangelical women who have publicly voiced their fury at President Trump’s election. Gretchen Carlson and Megyn Kelly were two of the loudest voices denouncing sexual harassment at conservative Fox News.
Even one chapter exploring how conservative women are feeling their anger — or are conflicted about their anger, or are even not feeling it — would not only provide a more complete portrait, but also bolster the rest of Traister’s considerable work, throwing it into greater relief.
I finished drafting this review on the day after the Ford-Kavanaugh hearings . Democratic senators had walked out of a committee vote in protest. Republicans were being publicly confronted by survivors of sexual assault.
But for anyone who reads Traister’s book, myself included, one comparatively quiet moment from the hearing just might stick the longest.
“Does that work for you?” Ford asked the panel at one point, after being asked if she’d like a break. “I’m used to being collegial.”
Aren’t we all.