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The Beto Diaries


Editor’s Note: The following journal entry was originally posted at Medium before it was abruptly taken down. The Federalist managed to obtain a screenshot, and though it contained no byline, after an agonizing editorial debate and literary forensic analysis comparing it to his past writings, we have determined it to be the work of Texas Rep. Robert “Beto” O’Rourke. We are publishing it here in the hopes that it garners the attention of the American Psychological Association, whose groundbreaking new guidelines on addressing male insecurity may be the last best hope in reaching O’Rourke and helping restore the lost confidence of the only man capable of restoring the American republic to its former glory.

I awoke woke and went for a run.

It was 5:30 a.m., and I stepped gingerly down the steps of my Capitol Hill townhouse in the early morning darkness. Once I hit the pavement, I tightened my laces a final time. Then I adjusted my new Bluetooth headphones and hit play on an obscure, experimental recording from Sonic Youth guitarist Lee Renaldo. You probably haven’t heard it. I know about these things because I used to play in a punk rock band.

I started off at a medium pace, throwing dollars as I ran at the hordes of homeless federal workers reduced to sleeping on the streets because of the government shutdown. My only relief from confronting the human misery all around me was concentrating on my form. I touched down on the balls of my feet, holding my head up, moving ahead on a slight forward pitch. I’d learned not to heel strike as a teenager, when I would sneak across the El Paso border into Chihuahua and spend long summer days doing shrooms and running ultramarathons with the Tarahumara Indians in the Barrancas del Cobre. It pained me that Trump’s border wall will deprive teenagers of such formative experiences.

But pain was no longer a strange emotion. Since losing a Senate race, morning runs and desultory journal entries had become my medicine. Not long ago, I didn’t need me to write about me. Journalists from glossy magazines followed me wherever I went. They said I was Kennedyesque. A Kennedyesque candidate to make liberal voters kick a hole in a solar panel.

After my expected loss, however, I was devastated. I spent a long time contemplating what to do next. I made plans to spend the next few years riding a motorcycle around South America. But Bill Ayers was unavailable to ghostwrite the travelogue we had planned. I thought better of it.

After ten blocks, sweat beads were forming at my temples. I smiled, feeling the runner’s high spread across my loose limbs. Or it might have been the shrooms kicking in. I rounded the corner behind the Supreme Court and saw the first rays of sun rising behind the Capitol dome. The vision reminded me of why I got into politics in the first place: I was laid up a week with a skateboarding injury, watching “The West Wing.” And I thought, “I could do that.”

The memory shook loose some of the idealism I had lost in the race against Ted Cruz. I hadn’t even taken the time to express my gratitude for the people most responsible for my revolutionary, if unsuccessful, Senate campaign: Sir Charles Barkley, Jonathan Franzen, Bob Shrum, Frank Stallone, Pete Davidson, and Ariana Grande (You two were so good for each other! What happened?), and Tina Brown. To the people of Texas, I say namaste.

It was a feeling of such intense thankfulness I went zen. It consumed all of my senses, I went blind with ecstasy. (Although this, too, could have been the shrooms.) The point is, I couldn’t see. I tripped over one of the homeless federal workers blocking the sidewalk. I picked myself up and walked back to check on the man who had caused my fall. He just laid there, shivering. Trump had declared the Amazon Washington Post “Fake News!” and it had to cut back circulation. D.C.’s homeless no longer had even newspapers to sleep under.

As I helped him up, I palmed him a twenty. I said, “I care about you, brother,” and his hard-luck story gushed out. Until two weeks ago, he’d been a GS-13 studying global corn futures at the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He was distraught. Without a job, he was unable to warn American farmers. Increased agricultural industrialization in the northern provinces of India, especially Uttar Pradesh, might harm our global competitiveness.

He reached into his filthy rags and handed me a small thumb drive. “Please, you’ve got to get this data into the right hands. The price of ethanol depends on it!” he said. I assured him I would use this information to win over key interest groups in next year’s Iowa caucuses.

This solemn promise brought tears to his eyes. He had spent the whole time we talked looking down, ashamed. He finally looked me in the eye. A wave of recognition. “I know you, you’re so…” he said. I spared him the embarrassment of not recognizing me earlier. I said, “Kennedyesque, I know.” We stood there in silence, basking in mutual admiration.

I took off running again, faster than before. I felt like I was trying to outrun something, but I didn’t know what. The self-doubt was returning. Then something else occurred to me. I should have the scheduler in my congressional office get me tickets for the Jawbox reunion tour.

Did I mention I used to play in a punk rock band?