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The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

The Student News Site of Texas A&M University - College Station

The Battalion

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The BattalionMay 4, 2024

Opinion: Beto brings balance

Democratic+gubernatorial+candidate+Beto+ORourke+speaks+in+Rudder+Theatre+on+Wednesday%2C+Sept.+28%2C+2022.
Photo by Cameron Johnson

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks in Rudder Theatre on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.

BBQ, sweet tea and football. Sounds like Texas, right?
Now, how about this:
Every morning, parents hug their children tightly and send them off to school with a troubled smile. Will they buy candles to decorate their fourth grader’s birthday cake this weekend, or to light a vigil in their memory due to another school shooting? For many families in Uvalde, it was the latter.
An eighteen-year-old girl quits her job and drops out of real estate school because she’s pregnant with twins; the exhaustion and nausea are overwhelming. She wanted to get an abortion, but the Heartbeat Act was passed two days after she discovered her predicament. The nearest clinics available to help were in New Mexico.
This is also Texas.
Simply put, our state has devolved into a muddled mess of private interest and radical conservatism. From bodily autonomy to safety in schools, even the simplest concepts are distorted by the agendas of those in office.
Thankfully, change is within reach.
This November’s upcoming gubernatorial election pits incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott against former U.S. representative Robert “Beto” O’Rourke. Although Texas is a decidedly right-leaning state, Beto has proved himself to be a worthy opponent with high poll numbers and undeniable enthusiasm — the race is bound to be tight.
All I’m here to say is, Beto is our best bet.
Though it’s impossible to compare legislative action between Abbott and Beto since the latter hasn’t held the position of governor, each candidate’s values and beliefs are reflected in their actions and words. That, we can judge.
To begin, let’s consider one of the largest crises in Texas: gun violence. Though it seems as if new shootings fill headlines every week, our state government has made little progress in passing effective laws to help bring an end to the senseless loss of life. Responses to this issue have revealed the true colors of those in office.
After the tragic shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, where 19 children and 2 teachers were killed, our governor didn’t take proactive action to prevent it from ever happening again. He didn’t mourn with the families who lost their loved ones. No, the same night of the shooting, Abbott attended a fundraising event for his campaign. What words of comfort did he offer the victims and their families?
“It could’ve been worse.”
The disrespect, insensitivity and absence of empathy in those four words is astounding. To have someone in a position of power that prioritizes the right to yield a firearm over innocent lives, even in the face of child victims, is sickening. For this alone, Abbott does not deserve the role of governor. Twisted notions of individualism and extreme corruption have no place in power.
In contrast, Beto has taken an outspoken stance, reprimanding the inaction of lawmakers in our state. In the same press conference where Abbott said Uvalde “could’ve been worse,” Beto confronted those on stage with the simple truth: “You are doing nothing.”
The fact that 35 family members of Uvalde shooting victims endorse Beto, not Abbott, says it all.
If voted into office, Beto vows to fight irresponsible gun ownership by repealing permitless carry, strengthening background checks and other initiatives. These reforms are the steps of progress we need. I don’t want to see new headlines about shootings every week, fear for my life in classes or mourn for those who were killed anymore. Enough is enough.
However, this applies not only to gun violence, but also issues surrounding minorities in Texas.
Personally, I appreciate Beto’s endeavors to reach the Hispanic community. As an Ecuadorian woman, the narratives that ignorant politicians perpetuate about Latino people are tiring. No, we are not all illegal immigrants. No, we are not hiding in dark street corners trying to bribe children with smuggled drugs. No, we’re not lazy “aliens” out to steal hard working Americans’ jobs. Because of dehumanizing and stereotypical accusations like these, I’ve been subjected to deportation threats, comments on my skin color and assumptions that I trekked over the Mexican border to get where I am.
This is why, when I attended a Beto rally a few years ago, I was taken aback when Beto began to speak in Spanish. I remember standing there, poster clutched in my hands, listening as he suddenly switched languages and people all around me began to cheer. Though the American accent was heavy and grammar was lacking, the effort is what stood out to me.
Instead of regarding Latinos as agenda points, Beto has at least tried to connect with and empower our community throughout his campaign for governor. It’s the bare minimum, I know, but when other politicians set the bar six feet underground, actions like this are meaningful.
Why is the bar so low? Well, for instance, in place of making meaningful inroads with the Latino community, Abbott deems it fit to use them as political pawns. Just last month, he bussed 100 migrants from Texas to Washington D.C. in an effort to pressure Vice President Kamala Harris and President Joe Biden to “step up and do their jobs to secure the border.”
Dehumanizing migrants and using over 12 million taxpayer dollars just to make a point?
We need someone who will value minorities and realize we’re more than stereotypes and pawns. Only after establishing this respect can legislation be created to solve border and immigration issues in a humane manner — no more families ripped apart, no more children caged behind metal bars.
But what else can be expected from someone who doesn’t defend basic rights?
As you may know, Abbott recently passed Senate Bill 8, or SB8, which bans abortions as early as six weeks into a pregnancy. There are no exceptions to rape or incest.
There’s already been immense public backlash to this decision, so I’ll keep it short: The violation of female bodily autonomy and safety enabled by the bill is frightening. I, a Texan woman living in the twenty-first century, should not possess less rights over my own body than a woman living in 1970s America. As Beto himself said, “[SB8] is essentially a referendum on whether we’re going to go back half a century, or whether this state is going to move forward.”
By voting for Beto, who stands for abortion accessibility and the right to choose, we stand a chance at making Texas a safe place again for the women of today and future generations. Without change, our state remains a hellscape dictated by religiously tainted decision-making.
Not to mention, have we forgotten that Abbott outspokenly defends banning same-sex marriage? Everything’s bigger in Texas, that’s for sure. Bigotry included.
However, what’s imperative to consider is the uncertain future that these issues paint. Body autonomy, guns, gay rights … What’s next on the agenda? How many more liberties will be infringed upon, lives lost and threatened, due to inadequate political leadership? Continuing down this path, what will Texas look like in the next five years?
I don’t want to find out.
For the sake of Texan children, women, minorities, schools and so many other matters that I didn’t cover, vote conscientiously. I will be voting for Beto this November. I hope you do too.
Ana Sofia Sloane is a political science sophomore and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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Ana Sofia Sloane
Ana Sofia Sloane, Associate Opinion Editor
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