Celebrity endorsement didn’t win Beto O’Rourke a Senate seat – but it could get him to the White House


No sooner are the midterm congressional elections over in the US and already names have been put forward to challenge President Trump in 2020. The hotly contested Senate race in Texas made a media star of Democrat challenger Beto O’Rourke; his style and energy attracted celebrities to his campaign, from Willie Nelson, Beyoncé and LeBron James to a host of others from the entertainment world.

All that stellar power wasn’t enough to win Beto a Senate seat, but in his concession speech he managed to drop an F-Bomb. This apparently endeared the vanquished Democrat to many people worldwide, and now global media sites are promoting headlines along the lines of ”BETO FOR PRESIDENT 2020”.

With so little daylight between politics and entertainment these days, who knows if Beto’s fresh face will be around for the long haul or have the political lifespan of a fruit fly. Celebrities were everywhere, but really didn’t have great success with their endorsements in these midterms. Taylor Swift’s huge social media following was supposed to ensure a “blue wave” of Democratic voters to swamp all in their path, but crashed against the Republican “red wall”, ending as a mere ripple.

Then when Oprah’s radiance shone in Georgia and Florida to promote gubernatorial candidates, both of them went down to gloomy defeat by rivals who had support from President Trump. Seems the electorate are not easily swayed by billionaires from the entertainment world telling them how to vote, unless he has been elected and transformed into an actual politician in the White House, having literally put his money where his mouth is.

After all the hoopla and hullabaloo, the midterm results were more or less as predicted: Democrats narrowly taking back the House of Representatives and Republicans increasing their grip on the Senate. Not to anyone’s real surprise, both parties claimed victory the morning after, and more tall tales were served up for exhausted yet still hungry voters to consume.

There are interesting times ahead with the split congress and the run-up for presidential elections in 2020 – I wonder if we should prepare for a “Beto-blitz” in the next 24 months? Just maybe O’Rourke will listen to the aforementioned Willie Nelson, and take his campaign “on the road again” – this time headed for the White House.

Bernie Smith

Invaders in the White House

Those of us with a remnant of hope in our hearts are celebrating the numbers of women elected to the House in the US, though somewhat flabbergasted that it has taken this long for Native American women to be elected.

For Democrats Sharice Davids and Deb Haaland it must be like getting locked out of your home for a long time while strangers wreck it and fight over who gets to use up everything inside – then, when you finally manage to find a small open window in the basement and battle your way into the main house, the wreckers give you a round of applause.

Should they now implement Trump’s favourite policy and send “the invaders” home?

Amanda Baker

Tourism will suffer grievously

Hardly surprising – but still noteworthy – to see that the chief executive of Visit Kent has called on the government for monetary assistance.

Apparently tourism is worth around £2bn for the county of Kent, and the relevant people are now rather concerned about the disaster that awaits us all, with Brexit being just around the corner.

Apologies for stating the obvious, but this is not just a Kentish or Dover docks problem – if, for argument’s sake, the government chipped in 25 per cent of potential loss (£500m), then similar sums would be needed for, let us say, Sussex, Surrey, Hampshire, Dorset and Essex, minimum.

Also, it is not just overseas tourists arriving at the ports or Channel tunnel – which of course ,will be hit very hard; it is also domestic tourists, and foreign tourists already here in, say, London, who will avoid travelling south.

Adding these not inconsiderable figures on to all the other hard hit sectors who will need funds next year is yet another colossal waste of taxpayers money. Why are we not attempting to run a well-functioning country for the benefit of its citizens, rather than creating a bottomless pit for our revenue?

Brexit bonus – I do not think so!

Robert Boston

Reclaim the poppy

Sean O’Grady is right to make the case for not wearing a poppy. For many years I gave the money but didn’t take the poppy – or kept the poppy in the kitchen for a week if a poppy seller was offended. However, I do feel that, in these unhappy Brexit times, it is more important to wear it – so I do.

I was puzzled by Sean’s comment that “if you’ve not got your poppy on by mid-October then to some golf-club Brexit bore you’re basically a Quisling”. The poppy is an acknowledgement of those who gave their lives defending large parts of Europe. It represents, I think, sorrow, regret, gratitude and remembrance. It reminds us of the futility of war and the tragic loss it inevitably incurs. The poppy, of course, now extends to acknowledge other military actions but in no way does it glorify war or promote nationalism. If anything, it could be said to remind us of a great desire for enduring peace in Europe.

Reclaim it, then, from the Brexiteers (I hadn’t realised they’d hijacked it). But never wear it until November – any time after the 4th seems good to me. The basic poppy does the job. There’s absolutely no point in being ostentatious. You can still give as much as you want, and only you know what you gave. Let us continue to honour the dream of a united and peaceful Europe.

Beryl Wall
London W4

Stop romanticising militarism

My local paper reports that a “fun day” to remember the First World War is to take place this weekend. Activities “on offer” for children include face-painting and a football knockout competition to commemorate the famous “friendly” match in no-man’s land in 1914. Those Tommies who survived have now joined their “fallen” comrades. Were they still here, were Vera Brittain still here, many of them would, I suspect, object to the tone of events of this kind.

Most of the men who took part in that football game, coming as it did at such an early stage in the war and never to be repeated, would be dead by the end of it, falling victim to the efficient killing machinery and crude tactics employed by the generals of all sides.

Millions died, millions more suffered life-changing injuries. Millions of parents, widows, sisters and children lived in penury with men whose minds were torn apart by shell shock.

For decades now, revisionist historians have been chipping away at the argument that the infantrymen were “lions led by donkeys”, the generals safe at a distance while ill-prepared, defenceless men en masse were hurled into the line of fire with no more regard than the Emperor Napoleon for his Grande Armée.

As the First World War recedes into libraries and broadcast archives, it more and more becomes the responsibility of older generations to convey the horror of war. Balance matters; there is an argument to be had about the impossibility of fighting the war any other way at the time. However, today we see the balance tipping back towards the celebration of militarism and that should worry us in an age where once again we see great powers building up their armaments.

Quentin Deakin