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DES MOINES, IOWA - NOVEMBER 01: Democratic presidential candidate, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) addresses his supporters after announcing he was dropping out of the presidential race before the start of the Liberty and Justice Celebration being held at the Wells Fargo Arena on November 01, 2019 in Des Moines, Iowa. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)
DES MOINES, IOWA - NOVEMBER 01: Democratic presidential candidate, former Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) addresses his supporters after announcing he was dropping out of the presidential race before the start of the Liberty and Justice Celebration being held…

Beto O'Rourke, the candidate who showed the risks of activism in American politics

The difficulties in raising funds, as well as his performance in the polls, have made it impossible for the young El Paso candidate to continue his campaign…

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The image of the Beto O'Rourke who declared war on Ted Cruz for the Senate seat and that of the candidate for the Democratic nomination are difficult to reconcile.

An unexpected star on the Trump era political scene, O'Rourke seemed to overcome all obstacles with his jovial and real character despite not beating Cruz.

His momentum was such that he launched a much larger campaign towards the White House.

Although no one could have imagined that the young representative of the 16th district of Texas would reach the nomination, his transformation during the last months speaks more of national politics than of his own profile.

The “mercurial” career that began with “great fanfare,” as Politico describes it, kicked off in March raising $ 6.1 million in just 24 hours.

But the speed seemed to play against him, and the lack of organization and detailed policies began to corrode the basis of his campaign.

However, what seemed to have given the coup de grace to his participation in the Democratic primary was his response to the fateful shooting in El Paso, his hometown, orchestrated by an extremist against the Latino community.

The “activist” turn of his rhetoric transformed O'Rourke's career into “a stubborn campaign” against federal gun control policies, a “much more aggressive stance than that of most Democratic presidential candidates,” explained The New York Times.

Between visits to federal prisons and the promise to “buy back assault weapons” from citizens, the young candidate attacked even the minority leader in the Senate Chuck Schumer for having done “absolutely nothing” regarding gun control.

This discursive turn coincided with his decline in polls and the inability of his campaign to raise the necessary funds to go on.

“This is a campaign that has prided itself on seeing things clearly, on speaking honestly and on acting decisively,” O’Rourke told his followers in Des Moines last Friday. “We have to clearly see at this point that we do not have the means to pursue this campaign successfully.”

Among opponents such as Senator Elizabeth Warren and Senator Bernie Sanders - who have entrenched themselves in proposals such as Medicare For All - the O'Rourke campaign's decision to advocate for more idealistic than feasible proposals seems to show that in the United States activism and politics are mutually exclusive.

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