After Controversial ‘Mandatory Service’ Proposal, Beto O’Rourke Changes Course

One thing to know about Texas politics… it’s a rough and tumble course.  And for a Texas Democrat?  Those rough patches may as well be a thorn-ridden labyrinth.

It’s a lesson that Democratic Senate Candidate Beto O’Rourke is learning quite quickly, as his massive campaign attempts to radiate from his El Paso Congressional District to every last corner of the Lone Star State.  The Congressman, who first pledged to visit voters in all of Texas’ 254 counties, is well north of 200 at the start of 2018.  But while he’s becoming an expert at logging miles, the campaign rhetoric still has some imperfections.  As Mariah Medina of KSAT 12 News reports, the candidate recently had to change course on a controversial proposal…

SAN ANTONIO – Days after sharing his idea to introduce a bill that would require all young people to spend at least a year “in service to this country,” U.S. Senate candidate Beto O’Rourke backtracked from that statement.

On Monday, the El Paso Democratic congressman said, in part, “I made a mistake,” as he addressed voters via Facebook live on Monday.

O’Rourke held a town hall in Corsicana last week and shared the controversial idea with those in attendance. The senate candidate told the Corsicana audience he hoped to introduce a bill to congress that would require “every young person,” regardless of their socioeconomic background, to serve their country in some way whether that be in military service, a medical unit, a teaching unit etc.

Many, however, took O’Rourke’s comments to mean only military service. Others felt the “mandatory” aspect of his idea mirrored conscription.

“In talking about that, I said ‘I’d like to make that mandatory,'” O’Rourke said in a Facebook live on Monday. “That is a word that has concerned a lot of you and I got to tell you, you’re right.”

As soon as his original announcement was made, a heated debate sparked across all corners of Texas social media.  While some were in full support of the concept, others even likened the thought of a mandatory service requirement to “slavery” or “involuntary servitude”.  A rather extreme comparison, given how countries across the globe often have mandatory service duties as part of one’s right to citizenship.

But whatever the case, it appears that O’Rourke heard those concerns, and has moved forward in the best way possible.  In today’s political climate, even an apology seems like a bold step.

Lesson learned.