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If You Don’t Know Why Your Texas Friends Are So Excited About Beto O’Rourke, This Video Will Make It Clear

Up to this point, I’d been aware of Beto O’Rourke, the Texas Democrat Representative challenging Ted Cruz’s Senate seat. I knew my friends from the area were fired up about him, but I didn’t know the specifics of why they were so excited. But a video of O’Rourke talking about the protests from NFL players kneeling during the national anthem has gone viral, and it has me wishing I lived in Texas just so I could vote for him.

At a recent town hall meeting in Houston, O’Rourke was asked if he found the protests disrespectful, by a man who said he didn’t approve of players kneeling. O’Rourke’s answer was perfect. Warning: you might want to have some tissues handy.

He begins by saying his short answer to the question is “no” but that “reasonable people can disagree on this issue,” which is already more civility than we’ve seen from other politicians, most notably Donald Trump, who has called the protesting players a “son of a bitch,” saying they’re “ruining the game” and calling for them to be fired.

O’Rourke said he was reminded of the Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s, which someone else in the audience had brought up earlier in the event. He described the sit-ins, the marches, the activists being beaten and killed in the fight to gain full civil rights.

“The freedoms that we have were purchased not just by those in uniform–and they definitely were–but also by those who took their lives into their hands riding those Greyhound buses, the Freedom Riders in the deep south in the 1960s, who knew full well that they would be arrested and they were, serving time in the Mississippi State Penitentiary,” he said. “Rosa Parks getting from the back of the bus to the front of the bus. Peaceful, non-violent protests, including taking a knee at a football game to point out that Black men, unarmed, Black teenagers, unarmed, and Black children, unarmed, are being killed at a frightening level right now, including by members of law enforcement, without accountability and without justice.”

“And this problem,” he said, “as grave as it is, is not gonna fix itself, and they’re frustrated, frankly, with people like me, and those in positions of public trust and power who have been unable to resolve this or bring justice for what has been done, and to stop it from continuing to happen in this country.”

It shouldn’t be this powerful just to hear a politician acknowledge the actual reason why these players are protesting, rather than perpetuating the false idea that it has anything at all to do with patriotism or disrespect to troops or veterans. But that’s a rare thing to hear, so it is.

O’Rourke continued, “Non-violently, peacefully, while the eyes of this country are watching these games, they take a knee to bring our attention and our focus to this problem to ensure that we fix it. That is why they are doing it. And I can think of nothing more American than to peacefully stand up, or take a knee, for your rights, any time, anywhere, in any place.”

(via NowThis on Twitter, image: Chris Covatta/Getty Images)

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Vivian Kane (she/her) has a lot of opinions about a lot of things. Born in San Francisco and radicalized in Los Angeles, she now lives in Kansas City, Missouri with her husband Brock Wilbur and too many cats.