Remember that viral video from last year when Texas U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke was asked about NFL players taking a knee and he answered correctly with eloquence and passion and facts and became a national thing?
That was cool.
Alas, O’Rourke still lost to Ted Cruz.
Now O’Rourke is one of the eleventy-nine people who have decided they are presidential material. In March, he debuted his presidential campaign in Nevada, where he addressed Nevadans while standing on tables, chairs, and his rented minivan.
The next month, he returned to Nevada for the SEIU/Center for American Progress candidate forum in Las Vegas, and while in the state took some time to stand on dinette tables in Reno and Carson City.
Nevada hasn’t seen him since.
With any luck, Nevada won’t.
O’Rourke shouldn’t be in Nevada running for president. He shouldn’t be running for president in Iowa, New Hampshire, South Carolina, California or anywhere else either. O’Rourke should be running for the U.S. Senate in Texas, where Republican Sen. John Cornyn is up for reelection in 2020.
If Democrats pick up three seats from Republicans in 2020, the Senate would be split at 50-50. If a Democrat wins the presidency, the vice president would break a tie, so Democrats would control the Senate. If Trump is reelected, Democrats would have to pick up four seats to control the Senate.
There are 34 Senate seats up in 2020, and Republicans will be defending 22 of them. Mileage may vary, but expert-texperts who are paid to be experty-texperty about such things seem to think at least three Republicans in particular are vulnerable: Susan Collins in Maine, Martha McSally in Arizona, and Cory Gardner in Colorado (more about him in a minute).
Others GOP senators are in better shape, but not rock solid safe & sound by any stretch. That group includes Cornyn in Texas. And most Democrat apparatchiks in Texas and around the country are evidently of the mind that O’Rourke’s name recognition, fundraising prowess and outstanding sense of balance while standing on things makes him the best shot to beat Cornyn.
If 2016 proved anything, other than the unsettling fact that the 21st century American electorate can still get its creepy on, it proved yet again the country’s system for picking a president is dysfunctional and perverse. In 40 percent of the 21st century’s presidential elections, the guy who lost the popular vote became president. The system’s busted.
The rural heartland and its apologists (a group which, judging by his veto of the National Popular Vote bill, now includes Gov. Steve Sisolak) love them some electoral college, because they fear majority rule. So we’re stuck with Wyoming and some Dakota or other grossly distorting the general will until climate disruption starves and kills 90 percent of the population and scattered bands of human survivors are ruled over by warlords, on the one hand, or on the other, the singularity happens and artificial intelligence rains down hellfire and destruction and scattered bands of human survivors are ruled over by warlords. Whichever comes first.
In other words, thanks to the offensive electoral college, Trump could lose again but win again in 2020. If that happens, the GOP would probably hold on to the Senate as well. (Though if Trump wins maybe Congress won’t even matter, because Trump will proclaim himself Greatest President Ever and Supreme Leader for Life and issue an executive order stating that anyone who has voted with Nancy Pelosi more than 50 percent of the time can no longer serve in his Congress and must be replaced with loyalists hand-selected by a blue-ribbon panel of Fox News personalities.)
But as columnist Rebekka Traister explained in one of the more refreshing pieces of reported punditry published lately, “Nobody knows what’s going to happen in 2020.” If the continued reign of Trump is a possibility, an equally likely scenario is that Trump loses.
In that eventuality, a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress would be integral to President Warren or President Harris enacting their bold plans to reform long-standing systemic social and economic injustices.
A Democratically controlled House and Senate would also be crucial to President Biden’s bold plans to allow society to continue plunging into unfairness and vicious wealth polarization, but at a slightly slower pace than the upbeat tempo preferred by Republicans.
It’s even possible, s’pose, that Trump could stay in the White House but Democrats win the Senate anyway. Democratic control would be better than Mitch McConnell doing whatever Trump says all the time (anything would be better), and maybe give the republic a little better chance of surviving a second Trump term.
Whatever the scenario, the second most consequential outcome of next year’s election will be control of the U.S. Senate.
O’Rourke is one of only two or three individuals in the galaxy uniquely positioned to influence that outcome.
One of the others is former Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper. He too is running for the Democratic presidential nomination. He too has been to Nevada. And he too should not come back. He should stay in Colorado and run for Senate against the aforementioned Gardner.
Montana Gov. Steve Bullock is also a Democrat running for president. He has not campaigned in Nevada, and he never should. If a Montana Democrat can win a Senate seat currently held by a Republican, it would be a sitting governor sporting an approval rating about three times bigger than his disapproval rating.
To clarify, all of these guys are welcome to come to Nevada anytime they like, whether to collect money from campaign contributors, or to spend money on gambling and food and liquor and nightclubs. They just shouldn’t come here as presidential candidates.
They literally have better things to do.
Oh and as an aside, yes it is so very cool that South Bend Mayor Pete Buttigieg’s dad translated Gramsci. But Indiana state government is fully controlled by Republicans, and the Republican governor is on the ballot next year. Just saying.