Another casualty to the sin of pride
When I was working as a city official in Warren, Michigan, we were working to revitalize an older community that was being eclipsed by newer greenfields.
Warren was and is the third largest city in Michigan. It was one of the communities populated as people moved out of America’s urban centers in the 1950s and 1960s. But now, the houses that once seemed so large compared to the houses in Detroit paled compared to those of the next ring of suburbs. Families were having fewer children while at the same time having more cars, resulting in a mismatch of municipal services to modern needs. And the tax revolts of the 1970s and 1980s saddled older communities like Warren with a cap on their tax increases, something that did not affect the newer, less developed communities.
Despite the factors that were totally out of our control that made managing a city like Warren challenging compared to the same task in a newer community like Sterling Heights, the leadership of Sterling Heights gleefully looked down their noses at us, blaming us for the challenges we had to address despite the fact that they were the beneficiaries of demographics and history, nothing more. In a short 20–30 years, Sterling Heights would be in the same situation as Warren once it was fully developed.
The relative ease with which the City Manager in Sterling Heights could run his city relative to the difficulties we had in Warren gave him a big ego. He thought he was all that and a bag of chips. He had mastered the task of managing a city and we fools in Warren just had to learn from him.
Ah, but pride goes before the fall. It came out a few years later that this same city manager had lied on his resume and did not have the educational qualifications he bragged of. He lost his job and was disgraced. So much for the genius of the Sterling Heights city manager.
I was reminded of this story last night while watching the Democratic debate. In 2018, Beto O’Rourke was the darling of progressive Democrats. A liberal who was giving Ted Cruz a run for his money. Wow! Money and support poured in from across the country.
Beto did still lose that race against the most hated politician in America. Yes, he did run a strong race and cut an impressive figure. He seemed downright Kennedyeske with his rolled up sleeves and sweaty demeanor. His twitter posts of him skateboarding made him seem of a new generation. He was exciting. He should run for President.
Wait. What? Beto appears to have forgotten the most important lesson all real politicians must learn: don’t believe your own P.R.
Last night’s debate showed how deeply outclassed he is by the competition. He can’t compete with Elizabeth Warren’s deep policy expertise, or Bernie Sanders’s passion and commitment. He isn’t as articulate as Pete Buttitieg or John Delaney. Even Marianne Williamson was more coherent than he was. Clearly, he’s just not ready for the NFL.
The reason Beto received so much attention in 2018 was primarily because… he was running against the aforementioned most hated politician in America. As Cruz’s college roommate put it, “Ted Cruz is a nightmare of a human being. I have plenty of problems with his politics but, truthfully, his personality is so awful that 99 percent of why I hate him is just his personality. If he agreed with me on every issue I would hate him only one percent less.”
To give Beto credit, he does seem like a decent person. He was a competent low-level Democratic Congressman from a Democratic district in a Republican state. Given his district’s proximity to the border, he was better able to defend a rational immigration policy than most Democrats are able to. But on a policy level, he is far to the right of most Democratic activists who will determine who is their nominee.
Should he just run for Senate in Texas instead? Maybe. But the Senator facing re-election this year, John Cornyn, is no Ted Cruz.
Relatively well-liked and more ideologically to the center of his party, Cornyn does not generate the passionate hatred of Cruz.
What’s more is that while O’Rourke has embarked upon his quixotic Presidential campaign, a slate of impressive candidates have already lined up to run for the Democratic nomination, including several people who have already run statewide before.
Could O’Rourke win the nomination anyway? Probably, although it is not assured. He will have to bring the same passion and energy he brought to the campaign against Cruz to this campaign. That same passion and energy, by the way, have been sorely lacking in his Presidential campaign.
The longer O’Rourke continues his campaign for President, however, the more the other candidates will build up their support. So the longer he takes to get out of this race, the more likely his moment will have passed him by. And if it does, he will only have to blame himself, and his ego.
If you liked this post, you might also like: