Candidate showed support for DREAMers and lower education cost.
By Sergio Medina
Beto O’Rourke, Democratic candidate for Texas senator, expressed the importance of young voters turning out to the polls regardless of political affiliation at an Oct. 4 rally at the University of Texas at San Antonio.
The rally was part of O’Rourke’s campaign effort to win the senate race against Republican opponent Ted Cruz in the upcoming midterm elections Nov. 6 by encouraging young people to vote.
His audience was composed mainly of students, many of whom listened from other spaces after the auditorium reached capacity at 400 people.
O’Rourke addressed his regard for full representation.
“(It’s) really important that I make this clear: No me importa. I don’t care who you vote for,” he said to his audience. “All I care is that you’re represented.
“In our democracy, which means that the people are the government, and the government is the people, it doesn’t work if all the people don’t show up,” he said. “It doesn’t work if only some of the people have their interests represented, their concerns addressed, their ideas expressed in the legislation that is passed and affects every single one of us. So this is on us.”
He said he decided to come to UTSA, despite having about a month until elections, because of the impact young voters can have.
“I am where the action is,” he said.
Motivating millennial and Gen Z voters can make a positive impact for O’Rourke because of the predominant Democratic leaning this demographic can have.
A study by The Brookings Institute found that in 2016, then Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton had won 55 percent of the youth vote (18-29), compared to Donald Trump’s 37 percent. Similarly, in 2012, 60 percent of young voters opted for Barack Obama over Mitt Romney.
More locally, CNN reports 55 percent of Texan voters 18-29 voted for Clinton in 2016.
However, per the U.S. Census Bureau, only 39.4 percent of voters ages 18-24 turned out in the 2016 presidential election. Further, a 2016 poll analysis by The Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, states that only 32 percent of millennial voters believed they had “a legitimate voice in the political process.”
Further, turnout for voters 18-29 is low during midterm elections, with only 13 percent showing up to the polls in 2014, per a CBS report.
“It is up to us — every single one of us — to transcend some of the barriers,” O’Rourke said, referring to Texas being a predominantly Republican state.
O’Rourke showed his support for DREAMers, proposing to turn them into citizens as soon as possible.
“DREAMers, in any way that matters, are every bit as American as everyone else here,” he said.
He also rejected Trump’s proposed wall along the border and disapproved the increasing cost of higher education.
“Why do we make it so hard for people to better themselves so they can do better for themselves and for everyone else?” he asked. “What if we decided — and this wouldn’t be inexpensive — it means that we all would have to pony up to make this possible, that we were going to invest in everyone’s ability to better themselves, to get those skills or that certification or that training or that higher education that allows you to reach your purpose and your function in your lifetime.
“This does not have to be about what a party believes in. It has to be about the investment that we all want to make in one another,” he said.
O’Rourke also called for better pay for teachers.
“Many of those teachers are struggling themselves just to make ends meet,” he said.
Fifty-five percent of public school teachers are not satisfied with their salaries and 17.9 percent of teachers had to work a second job to satisfy their needs, according to a 2015-16 report by the National Center for Education Statistics.
“Pay teachers a living wage,” O’Rourke said.
O’Rourke is scheduled to meet Cruz for a televised debate on KENS-TV 8 p.m. Oct. 16 in San Antonio.
Voter registration deadline is Oct. 9, with early voting beginning Oct. 22.