Texas Tribune Festival: Meeting Beto O’Rourke


Submitted by Abby Lincks

I shook hands with gubernatorial candidate, Beto O’Rourke. He proceeded to sign my copy of “We’ve Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible.”

Abby Lincks, Editor

This September, I had the privilege of attending the Texas Tribune Festival, organized by the Texas Tribune online newspaper, a nonpartisan public media organization located in Austin. Fifty dollars for the main event of a journalism junkie’s year, the pot o’gold of 350 speakers and over 120 hourlong sessions of pure conversation of everything politics, policy and media. Taking place through Sept. 22-24 across the upper end of downtown Austin, major panel topics included, but not limited to, abortion, congress, criminal justice, environment, health care, education, law, voting and Texas legislature.

On Saturday, I attended Beto O’Rourke’s panel at the Paramount, where The New Yorker staff writer Lawrence Wright acted as a moderator in a lively discussion concerning O’Rourke’s upcoming November election. He is the Democratic gubernatorial candidate, currently working to expand democracy by pledging gun safety, reproductive freedom, safe and legal immigration and affordable health care. 

Wright mentioned recent percentage points in the RealClearPolitics polling average that place O’Rourke 7.5 percentage points behind current Texas governor, Greg Abbott. O’Rourke acknowledged these results, but shrugs them off, claiming “the only poll that matters is the one we take on election day.” O’Rourke’s partially relying on “the energy, the enthusiasm, the commitment” that he’s seen from people during this race to flood the polls and largely vote Democrat amidst the tragedy of Uvalde and Texas’ recent abortion restriction, especially after the overturning of Roe v. Wade. 

I attended his post panel book signing, where he signed in big, black, block letters on the front page of his latest novel, We’ve Got to Try: How the Fight for Voting Rights Makes Everything Else Possible. As I shook his hand, his height astonished me and it was certainly an incredibly memorable moment to be able to meet a political candidate I favor in person. 

I believe his fight for democracy and stance on prevalent issues in Texas, as major laws passed in 2022 will continue to shape the entirety of our country and its democracy for decades to come, could help Texans be safer, freer and have a larger voice in politics.

Despite my personal opinion regarding this polarizing election, I encourage young people who are eligible to vote to exercise this right. Young people’s voices matter, and so we should make others listen. As a result, political candidates may prioritize our wants and needs in a legitimate, responsive manner. In turn, we can educate ourselves over issues that will affect our future and that of future generations, like climate change.