I have already mourned the loss of Beto O’Rourke. I have made calls to my family, listened to his concession speech twice and endlessly ranted about the campaign to my roommates. Currently, I would say I am in the denial part of the grieving process, but not for long. Because in so many ways, Beto won.
I cannot pinpoint the first time I heard about Beto. The ambiguous black yard signs, t-shirts and banners seemed to pop up throughout Texas like a silent nonpartisan wave taking over the GOP. So, like any good journalism major, I began to do research.
My research quickly turned to action. To me, and so many other college students from across the state, Beto seemed like a dream. He speaks Spanish fluently, does not take any money from PAC’s, has a compassionate stance concerning immigration and fulfilled his promise to visit each of the 254 counties in Texas, listening to each and every concern. Not to mention, this Whataburger-loving, skateboarding and former rock band member is not your everyday politician.
His presence on social media astounded me. I noticed many of my friends from high school—those who voted for Trump and those who did not—followed him on multiple platforms. Beto was a breath of fresh air amid an incredibly polarized society.
Before long, I subscribed to receive emails from his campaign. Within a week, as I became hyper-aware of the political yard-sign war picking up in my neighborhood, I received an email telling me Beto would be at a political rally only 15 minutes away from my house. So, I went.
The energy at this rally was unlike any other I had seen in my state. Democrats from across my region came out of the closet with the purpose of changing America. Eyes glued to the stage, both young and old listened to Beto dream about the future of the country with tears in his eyes and an unremarkable passion in his voice. This time, we thought things would be different.
More than his charisma or good energy, my first impression of Beto’s character was a good one. I am aware this sounds naive and I hate to call a politician honest, but after meeting him, I believed he was a genuine man I could trust. I believed in Beto.
Still, my believing in him was not enough to consolidate a win. Last night, the race was tight. Though I previously resolved to ignore the election as Ted Cruz would inevitably win in my bright red state, I began to pay attention when Beto took a small lead. It did not last for long.
Though he lost this race, I predict we will see him on an even larger platform in the future. Beto won the heart of Texas, giving people across the state hope when they had none and faith in the American political system. His authentic, grassroots campaign lifted spirits and promoted important discussions. In my book, this qualifies as winning.
Beto ended his concession speech repeating one phrase.
“I am grateful, I am grateful.”
As I reflect on these words during my political grieving process, I realize how grateful I am to live in a country where I have the opportunity to vote and speak about political issues. I am grateful to live in a country with a free press. This article could not run everywhere in the world. Most of all, I am grateful God is in control of every situation—all we have to do is trust in Him.