Political records matter. Having a popular core identity matters. Running in the right election matters.
There are five huge differences between the three young Democratic presidents elected since 1960 and O’Rourke.
- Each president has a signature issue from which he could take the moral high ground against primary opponents. JFK was a war hero, while Clinton and Obama opposed unpopular wars.
- Each president won at least one major state-wide election: JFK was a two-term Senator for Massachussets; Clinton had three terms as Governor of Arkansas, and; Obama won one term as Senator of Illinois.
- Each president had at least 10 years of public service on a state or federal level: JFK (14 years); Clinton (12 years), and; Obama (11 years)
- Each president was in the right place at the right time: JFK ran after 8 years of Republican leadership against an unpopular Vice President; Clinton ran after 12 years of Republican leadership in a country going through a recession, and: Obama ran after 8 years of Republican leadership in a country sick of Bush and Cheney’s never-ending string of lies, scandals, corruption, war crimes, civil right violations and unimaginable incompetence.
- Each president launched his presidential campaign off an election win, not a loss.
O’Rouke is a pretty face but doesn’t have the track record.
O’Rourke’s current signature issue is gun control, where the country is split, the majority of his public service was at the municipal level, and he lost the election in Texas. And he’s trying to run against an incumbent president who is better at negative campaigning and lying than any person in the history of this country.
O’Rourke’s failure to gain traction has nothing to do with being a member of Generation X, or making the generational argument.
People aren’t entitled to anything based on age or privilege.
There’s a reason why people like Sanders and Warren are the voices of the younger generation — they’ve been walking the walk for decades in fighting for the weak, vulnerable and disenfranchised people of this country.
Your comment “when we are the age that should be talking over” just blew my mind. If we changed one word in this phrase from “age” to “race,” “gender,” “sexual orientation,” “religion,” “social class,” or “culture,” the twitterverse would descend upon you with pitchforks and torches.
Ageism is the last accepted form of discrimination in this country and it really needs to stop.
The Democratic party’s real problem is our maddening habit of splintering into issue- or identity-based politics.
You said it yourself, “we’ve had it with white men.” That type of generational political attitude says more about the failure of the Democratic party than the candidates themselves.
The lack of a razor focus on doing anything and everything to get rid of Trump echoes the foolish braying of the Green Party in 2000, the apathy of young voters in 2004 and the frustrated Bernie Bros in 2016.
I hope your generation finally comes through in campaigning and at the polls, because it would have to be insane to allow Trump another term just because young progressives don’t like Joe Biden or the other old folks.