Beto O’Rourke announced his bid for the presidency last week, and he has already sent a message to the crowded Democratic field that he is to be taken seriously. In just 24 hours, O’Rourke raised $6.1 million, more than any other candidate this year.
But O’Rourke’s incredible funding day has raised an important question Democrats should be asking: what is their Party’s platform? The only other Democratic candidate to draw so much energy and support for the 2020 race has been Bernie Sanders, who raised $5.9 million in the first 24 hours after announcing his candidacy. But a comparison between Sanders and O’Rourke reveals stark contrasts.
While O’Rourke’s stances on the most pressing issues facing the country have yet to be explicitly stated, based on his Senate race in Texas, he is likely a centrist Democrat. Meanwhile, Sanders is far from a centrist: he is a self-proclaimed Democratic Socialist, who has policy positions well to the left of any American president who has come before.
Sanders is 77 years old, an experienced politician, but definitely not in his prime. In fact, if elected, Sanders would take over the record for being the oldest president to assume office. At 78 on inauguration day, Sanders would take that record from President Donald Trump, who was 70 when inaugurated. Meanwhile, O’Rourke is just 46 years old, an unequivocal contrast to Sanders.
Based on the differences between Sanders and O’Rourke, the two leading Democratic candidates, Democrats are clearly divided not only on whom they want their candidate to be, but also on what they want their basic platform to be. A divided Party is never a good sign. Just as likely as Democratic platform divisions is the fact that Democrats may simply not care about policy, but only about how candidates act and speak. But that leads to another problem:
Despite all the differences between Sanders and O’Rourke, they do have one obvious similarity: they are both white men. For a Democratic Party that preaches for increased racial diversity in politics and denounces male and white privilege, that seemingly unimportant similarity could prove to be problematic.