Opinion: O’Rourke’s Anti-Texas Debate

Opinion: O’Rourke’s Anti-Texas Debate
Beto O'Rourke | Image by NBC

It makes absolutely no sense for the media to be in charge of political debates in Texas or anywhere else. They don’t even pretend to be neutral players anymore. They are on the liberal Democrat side.

Which makes it all the more telling, now that the only Texas gubernatorial debate is over, that almost none of the media’s post-debate analysts named Beto O’Rourke the winner. What is amusing is that media analysts can’t seem to understand how, after literally years of biased and dishonest coverage of Texas conservative leadership in general and Gov. Greg Abbott in particular, O’Rourke managed to lose a debate against a man they demonize and misrepresent every day.

With the media in charge, the debate questions on Friday night all leaned in O’Rourke’s favor. There were no questions about the Texas energy policy and how O’Rourke’s support for the Green New Deal would cost millions of jobs and devastate the Texas oil and gas industry.

There were also no questions about parental rights and school choice which Abbott and a majority of Texans support and O’Rourke opposes. Instead, the media’s education questions were focused on the issues teachers’ unions care about—more money for schools and more pay for teachers and retirees. Student outcomes took a back seat to whether the New York City mayor had actually contacted Abbott’s office about busing migrants there.

And, of course, they didn’t ask O’Rourke to define what a woman is or if he thinks boys should be allowed to play girl’s sports.

Still, O’Rourke’s prospects seemed good going into the debate.  Polls show 54% of Texans think the state is going in the wrong direction. Texas has had a very difficult couple years, which include the pandemic, a horrifying mass shooting followed by an inexplicable failure to respond by law enforcement, a deadly freeze that paralyzed us and a Supreme Court decision on abortion that has divided Texans.

O’Rourke clearly went into the debate thinking he would blame Greg Abbott for all that. Using his entitled, rich kid persona, he ignored the rules and launched flailing attacks that repeatedly fell flat. The old suggestions by a previously star-struck media that O’Rourke is, somehow, the reincarnation of Bobby Kennedy are laughable after his debate performance.

O’Rourke attacks repeatedly noted that Abbott has been in charge for the last eight years—he clearly thought it was a killer punch.

But he doesn’t understand Texans. The Texas Public Policy Foundation conducted focus groups last year asking Texans across the state what they believe about the Lone Star State. We learned that Texans, regardless of race or ethnicity and even most Democrats, are proud of being Texans because, they said, Texas is a state that does things right.

They listed things like the state’s low cost of living, no income tax, available jobs and reasonable regulations—all results of conservative pro-Texas policies moved forward by Abbott.

No recent pollster has asked Texans if they believe the last eight years would have been better if Democrats were in charge, but if they did, I am confident the answer would be a resounding no. Right next to the right track/wrong track number on most polling results is the disapproval rating for Democrat President Joe Biden, which stands at close to 60% in Texas. Only 37% of Texans approve of his performance and even members of his own party don’t want him to run again. At the same time, a majority of Texans approve of Abbott.

O’Rourke missed the fact that while Texans believe the state is going in the wrong direction, they don’t blame Abbott. Instead, polls have shown again and again, that Texans’ most urgent concern is the crisis at the border and the 2.1 million people who have crossed illegally since President Biden has been in office. Texans support Abbott’s border policies.

A basic rule of politics is to never believe your own press, but O’Rourke doesn’t seem to realize that virtually all the Texas mainstream media is his press. That’s probably why he misjudged his rude and condescending attacks on the governor and crossed the line of good Texas manners. He thought he could badmouth Abbott because he thinks Texans believe the daily mainstream media headlines screaming that Texas is a backward state whose conservative policies have left it in shambles. But most Texans don’t buy that. It doesn’t ring true with the reality of their lives.

Republicans finally took control of all three branches of Texas government in 2003, and now, after a generation of reversing the liberal policies of high taxes, intrusive regulation and trial-lawyer packed courts, conservative principles are part of the Texas DNA, right next to liberty and freedom.

If someone is going to overthrow the state’s top conservative leader, he or she will need to be a genuine Texan who understands that the Lone Star State became the country’s top job creator and the top destination for Americans moving from other states because of conservative policies that have rebuilt our state after almost 100 years of Democrat rule.

O’Rourke showed he doesn’t understand that hard-working Texans know how the economy works because they can see the difference in Texas and blue states around the country. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be putting a higher statewide minimum wage at the top of his platform. Texas voters would never support a plan that would kill both jobs and businesses.

The media is saying that Abbott stacked the deck by only agreeing to one debate, but Texans saw all they needed to see on Friday night. O’Rourke demonstrated he’s not in tune with the priorities Texans care about. Hopefully, we are seeing his last run for public office.

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  1. Wolfman

    Bobby the fake Mexican can suck it.

  2. A broad

    Beto O’Rourke IS a Texan. Ms Sylvester makes assumptions about Texans based on her own beliefs. But they aren’t mine, nor many other Texans I know. Whoever is elected to run the state should have a better sense of what makes Texas special to all people across the political spectrum, and not just those of their own party. In my opinion, O’Rourke may not be perfect, but he does do his best to listen to others instead of just telling others what they ought to believe if they were just Texan enough.

    • Janet

      I agree. I don’t know what this person is talking about. She speaks s if she speaks for ALL Texans, when in reality she speaks for her self. I understand that the majority of Texans are Republican or believe in Conservative values. I wish she would have stated as such (and she did at times, but to imply that if you disagree with her views, then you are not “Texan” is wrong. She also omits the fact that the debate was limited with time restraints and Abbott was invited to the after-debate discussion to answer further, more in depth questions which he declined. And the “winner” of the debate is in the eye of the beholder.

  3. Nick LaLumia

    Sherry, you got it all wrong. Abbott could not defend any of the many mistakes he had made. Wanting a 10 year old rape victim to have a child. Open carry. Not fixing the grid. His eight years in office was not good for Texans or the STATE OF TEXAS. We need a change.

    • ed lopez

      Abbott is trying to make Texas into Mississippi.
      In his 10 years in office, he has accomplished nothing.

    • kathleen

      That dark money backed LLC from Delaware is running that deceptive ad about 10 year old rape victims, but the fact is those rare pregnancies still can be terminated early as with a morning after pill. Changing open carry would not fix the violence problem where criminal will continue to break the laws. Our power grid problems stemmed from federal regulations and out of State ERGOT and failed “green” energy. Abbott did change those regulators he could after the big freeze.

      • Ricky

        Yes, so Beto wants us to “fix” the power grid, but offers no real solutions to do that. Other than every Texas taxpayer cough up $40k to address the issues that arose from a once in a hundred year storm. Or add more wind farms. Or more fairy dust

  4. Steve

    Very well said! Thank YOU!

  5. kathleen

    As a retired public school teacher, i can tell you the best raises I ever got were the last few years with Abbott. The worst was having salary frozen for 3 years when Obama and Biden crash the economy. My district made the wise choice to freeze wages to keep from laying off teachers in a bad national economy.

  6. Fred

    BETO is wanting office, too much he will say anything he has to for winning a office, anti border, anti 2nd amendment, and 1st amendment, he will never understand Texas people wrong for Texas, liberal misfit

  7. Ricky

    I’m still waiting to hear what John’s plans are to solve the problems he continues to stump on. It’s easy to say what others are doing wrong-but providing realistic solutions is where leadership comes in. He has no solutions, only gripes.

  8. Bret

    The bottom line is Texas is doing better than almost every state Just the influx of people leaving blue states and coming here bc they need a job should wake up you stupid liberals. Open carry has changed nothing except your feelings and Abbotts insistence to use federal money to push green agendas that obviously did not work during the big freeze did take his eye off the ball. We just had a very hot summer and notice that we did not have black outs ala CA. Abbott is not Desantis but he is close. You fools who want trexas californicated should just move.

  9. Good grief

    Beto talks all that crap and he knows he’s conservative as well. If he wins, (Lord knows most of Texas hopes he doesn’t), he’s gone change his mind and take back everything he said, remember that he’s a Texan too, and will start to push his conservative views in the most “liberish” way. Straight disaster, every single time! He’s almost guaranteed to be a worse governor than Abbott and all the out of towners, whom by the way know nothing but are quick to bandwagon jump, will be praying for the next election to come along to get Texas back red. If you’re not a Texan, leave your politics in the last place you came from, we don’t need all that here. Ya’ll messing this state up!

  10. Keepin it real!

    Yes, Abbott and company are PERFECT and need to run Texas to infinity! We don’t need a functional two party system! Texas is much better off being run like the autocracy it is by GOD!

    All Republicans are God-like!

  11. Jack

    My guess is that every time most Texans hear the ‘it could have been worse’ phrase on the ads (paid for by outside $$$) like me they finish the thought with ‘it could have been Beto’.

  12. Michelle

    And I suppose the writing is also coming from a neutral perspective??

  13. Monte Mcdearmon

    I wonder how many TEXANS remember a famous TEXAS con man by the name of Billy SOL ESTES that’s what you will get with BETO

  14. M R

    Good thing you labeled this article as “Opinion,” because it was so lacking in verifiable fact that it is clearly a biased hit piece…one likely bought and paid for by Abbott’s team. It’s laughable to simultaneously say that Texas’ grid is proudly independent *and* that the Federal Government is also somehow responsible for its failing, despite clear deficiencies identified by the very same Texas GOP in charge of both houses. As if leaving the gas lines in the hands of the Monopoly Railroad didn’t directly result in hundreds of unprotected gas lines freezing across the state. Then we let unfettered conservative capitalism hand everyday Texans a 5000% inflated energy bill to pay for the failings of our leadership… because we don’t make those *actually* responsible pay for their mistakes in Texas. We just pass the blame and the buck. When you run everything like a private corporation, the “consumer” gets screwed for profit. When this involves something like a public utility, this puts lives in danger for profit. That has been the “Texas way” under Abbott.

    The bottom line is this: Abbott has been in charge and his party has held both chambers for years. ANY and ALL failures are HIS to own. You don’t get to have total legislative control over your state for nearly a decade and then blame your mistakes on everyone else. Whether or not you think Beto is the answer, Greg is not working for Texans. He works for the mega corporations raising your prices and slashing your benefits; they are keeping his lights on. Who’s keeping yours on?

    • James E. Embry

      Nobody’s perfect. Greg Abbott is obviously the lesser evil in the race.

  15. Lanie

    First of all I wish both parties could stop using “liberal” and “extremists”.. What happened to just Republicans and Democrats.

    I don’t know how you can say everyone is against Abbott when he has been elected to office for the past eight years and will probably be re-elected again despite his failure to handle the Uvalde shooting and the use of guns, all of us paying higher taxes and not knowing whether the next cold front will leave us freezing again. I am an Independent but have voted mostly for Republicans in the past. The present Republican party does not represent me any more. Abbott lost my vote when he took my right, and every other female’s right to decide what to do with their body as far as abortion is concerned. No man should be able to make that decision for me. Abbott is for banning books which is another decision that should not be up to him. Education in the State of Texas is 47th. Our teachers are underpaid and we expect too much from them.

    I would also like to know how Abbott was able to stop people from sitting in the audience during the debate. Its just another example of him trying to control things.

    The three stooges (Abbott, Patrick and Paxton) need to go and the State of Texas needs a clean start.

    • James E. Embry

      I’m “pro-choice” as long as the BABY has a choice!

  16. RobinQuivers

    Many angry Republicans here. Sherry, you’re biased as heck.


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