Beto O’Rourke holds virtual rally for young Wisconsin voters

Beto+discussed+the+importance+of+young+people%27s+voices+on+issues+like+Climate+Change+and+Racial+Justice.

Photo by Benjamin Wells

Beto discussed the importance of young people’s voices on issues like Climate Change and Racial Justice.

Last week, former Texas Congressman Beto O’Rourke held a virtual Zoom rally for young Wisconsinites who will be voting in the 2020 presidential election.

O’Rourke had run for senator in the state of Texas against long-time incumbent Ted Cruz. He also ran for president of the United States before suspending his campaign in November of 2019.

This year’s election is predicted to have a spike of young voters after 2018 saw a record number of young voter participation, despite there being no major elections. According to the United States Census, 2018’s midterm elections saw a 79% increase in voter participation among 18 to 29 year olds.

But aside from young voters in this year’s election, O’Rourke highlighted the importance of Wisconsin being the deciding factor of who’s elected in November.

“I really believe that Wisconsin… is going to decide the outcome of this election,” O’Rourke said. “This one is squarely on you and your shoulders.”

Wisconsin has been deemed one of the biggest swing states this election and has seen both candidates campaigning in cities accross the state.

Former Vice President Joe Biden currently has a five-point lead over President Donald Trump among registered voters in the state of Wisconsin according to the most recent Marquette Law Poll.

O’Rourke noted the extraordinary nature this election is being held in due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the current ongoing recession due to the pandemic, the climate crisis, like with wildfires in the West Coast  and the recent calls for racial equality that have been taking over the nation.

“These are the most consequential issues that we could possibly address,” O’Rourke said. “You can look at that as being a hell of a lot of pressure or even causing some level of distress.”

O’Rourke then criticized President Donald Trump and called him the most, “lawless, cruel and corrupt” president that the United States has ever had.

“There’s probably some part of all of us that wonders if we can come through… all of these problems and come through better bigger and stronger,” O’Rourke said.

But O’Rourke said that he has hope for young voters if there is a sense of unity among them. Since young people have taken on leads for change, such as how some young as high schoolers,  have taken the charge on issues like racial justice by leading protests across the nation for racial justice… These younger people have taken the charge to organize peaceful protests in “thousands of U.S cities,” O’Rourke said.

“(Young people) are all leading on climate change, gun violence, police reform, immigration, on everything that could possibly matter,” O’Rourke said. “You’re in a very strong tradition of student and young American leadership on the issues that matter most.”

He also talked about the late civil rights activist and former United States Representative John Lewis, who started off at the age of 21 as a Freedom Rider in the Jim Crow South striving for change before he was even elected for office, similar to how most young people are working for change.

O’Rourke also said it was young Black students who were the ones to encourage President Lyndon B. Johnson to sign the Civil Rights Act.

He said that candidates Joe Biden and Kamala Harris have been thoroughly influenced and inspired by the voices of young people in this election.

“We must lay out the stakes of this election in terms that are as clear and compelling as humanly possible. The very future and fate of this very country is in the balance,” O’Rourke said.

The deadline to register to vote online and through mail in Wisconsin is October 14. People may still register in person until October 30.

“We’re counting on you and we’re grateful for you,” O’Rourke said.

This story was written by Benjamin Wells, he can be reached at benjamin.wells@marquette.edu.