Presidential hopeful Beto O’Rourke has said that being a white man is not a disadvantage in the diversity-driven Democratic field – because it has been an advantage throughout his life.
O’Rourke, a former Texas lawmaker of Irish and Italian descent, has been busy checking his own ‘white privilege’ since he formally joined the extremely diverse Democratic field to vie for the party’s nomination.
Speaking to journalists at a campaign stop in Waterloo in Iowa, the state that hosts the first presidential caucuses, O’Rourke sought to dismiss the notion that being a white male might be to his disadvantage when Democrats choose their perfect counterweight to President Donald Trump.
“I would never begin by saying that it’s a disadvantage at all,” O’Rourke said. He added that throughout his life, his rather conventional background has given him plenty of perks.
“As a white man who has had privileges that others could not depend on or take for granted, I’ve clearly had advantages over the course of my life,” he said almost apologetically.
Saturday was the second day in a row in less than a week of campaigning that O’Rourke invoked his white privilege. On Friday, the three-term former congressman from a predominantly Hispanic El Paso district said that he wanted “to acknowledge the truth of the criticism that [he] enjoyed white privilege.”
According to O’Rourke, it helped him walk away unscathed from two arrests when he was a youngster.
While it is unclear if admitting to having white privilege will make him more likable to the left-leaning liberal crowd, the notion has been haunting him from the days of his whirlwind campaign for the Texas Senate seat, which he eventually lost to Ted Cruz despite smashing fundraising records and being a mainstream media darling.
At the height of the Texas race, O’Rourke drew controversy for shortening his name, Robert, to Beto, in what critics argued was a cheap trick to entice Hispanic voters and lure votes from the actual Latino candidate, Republican Ted Cruz.
O’Rourke himself claimed that Beto was his pet name among family and friends. However, it did not stop Cruz from releasing an ad that mocked his nickname with the line: “Liberal Robert wanted to fit in, so he changed his name to Beto and hid it with a grin.”
So far, the O’Rourke presidential campaign has been marked by a feeling of general awkwardness.
As O’Rourke jumped into the race on Wednesday, he landed on the cover of Vanity Fair. However, according to some netizens, it was his dog Artemis who stole the show, upstaging O’Rourke’s magazine debut.
A few days into his campaign, O’Rourke seems to be making headlines mainly for apologizing for past lapses. Earlier this week, he apologized for being a member of a hacker collective called the ‘Cult of the Dead Cow’ during his turbulent youth. It also emerged that O’Rourke allegedly wrote a poem called The Song of the Cow, addressed to a cow and thick with innuendo.
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