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A comparison from history, just because

Candidate A served 8 years in his state legislature

Candidate B served 6 years on his city council.

Candidate A  served one term in the US House of Representatives, choosing not to run again.

Candidate B served three terms in the US House of Representatives, then ran directly for higher office.

Candidate A ran for the US Senate but lost, yet became a national figure in the process.

Candidate B ran for the US Senate but lost, yet became a national figure in the process.

Two years later candidate A got elected President of the United States.

and Candidate B might run for President two years later.

By now you should be able to identify Candidate A as Abraham Lincoln, 16th President of the United States, and Candidate B as Beto O’Rourke, former Congressman and Senate candidate from Texas.

The parallels are far from exact.  After all, Lincoln lost his first race for both the Illinois legislature and for nomination for Congress.   I do not believe O’Rourke ever lost a race before his narrow 2018 defeat by Ted Cruz, and he won his House seat defeating an incumbent

Lincoln had a substantial career outside of government between stints in it, and O’Rourke’s time in government was continuous, although he also had a somewhat extensive business career before entering politics  They are, however, close in age:  Lincoln was 51 when he became President and Beto would be 48.  Lincoln was largely self-educated, including reading for the law, and lacked formal education (although he was a voracious reader throughout his life) O’Rourke graduated from Woodberry Forest, an all-boys prep school in Madison County Virginia before he went to Columbia U.

Both were athletic — Lincoln’s physical prowess was notable even before the tales of him being a rail-splitter.  O’Rourke co-captained Columbia’s heavyweight crew.

Please note — in writing this I am not advocating for O’Rourke.  As of now I have no favorite in the primary, either among those declared or those exploring.  There is one I will not support because of the issue of education, but that is not relevant to this post.

I wrote this because I have heard conversation dismissing O’Rourke on the grounds that he lost his last race. That immediately reminded me of Lincoln, so I started drafting this piece. 

I am not saying Beto is Lincolnesque, although I do note his willingness to speak bluntly to some issues.

Just thought as a social studies teacher, who this year is teaching the part of American history that includes Lincoln’s election to the Presidency , I might offer some food for thought.

Make of it what you will.


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