By Kristina Valdez |

On Friday, Baylor students and Waco residents crowded in Common Grounds’ outdoor stage area to hear Democratic Party nominee Beto O’Rourke speak. Beto is the Texas Representative who is running against incumbent Ted Cruz for the 2018 U.S. Senate seat. Cheers and phones soared into the air as soon as Beto stepped onto the stage. He touched on many controversial topics, told the audience not to ‘boo’ at the mention of President Trump’s name and encouraged everyone in the audience to register to vote for the November primaries. Here are Beto’s most memorable quotes.

1. Texans 

“The people of Texas should lead the way in treating each other not as Republicans or Democrats, but as Texans, as Americans and as human beings and treating each other as human beings. That is a Texas value.” 

2. Education  

“This defies placement on the political spectrum. What if we committed to the problem? Instead of starting school in kindergarten at the age of five with some kids already months behind, we made sure every kid was able to access a universal pre-K program at the age of four, starting from the same starting line. We pay those teachers a living wage that they just work one job, the most important job. We allow them to teach directly to the child instead of the test so that they can unlock that lifelong love of learning…” 

3. War 

“Can we continue to leverage the future of our kids for these wars without end, or can we force ourselves to ask these questions? What’s the definition of victory in these wars? What’s our strategy to achieve it? Why do we fight? If we are unable to answer those questions, let’s not start another war and then let’s end the wars we are in right now. Bring those [soldiers] back to our country so that they can contribute to our success.” 

4. Health care 

“We can try to explain to our kids, to ourselves, to our conscious how we are a state that is dead last in the country when it comes to the ability to see a doctor, to take your kid to a therapist or afford the prescriptions that will make your life better or just keep you alive at all. [We are] a state where the largest health care provider of mental health care services today is the county jail system in the state of Texas…” 

“In almost every part of the state, I meet someone with a family member who has gotten arrested on purpose because that is the only way to treat their schizophrenia, their bipolar disorder, their depression…Not only is this immoral and unconscionable it’s also fiscally irresponsible…This is not a republican or democrat issue; this is a human being issue.” 

5. Dreamers 

“There are 200,000 Dreamers in Texas [and] more than a million in the United States of America, who, in every meaningful way except for a piece of paper, are just as American as anybody else here, as my three kids back in El Paso. Not only are they being taught in our classroom, but they are also teaching in our classrooms. Twenty thousand dreamers are public education teachers and educators all over this country. Not only are they being protected by those who serve in uniform, but they are also serving in uniforms, their lives on the line as well. How can we explain to ourselves or to our kids how we deported those Dreamers back to their countries and in some cases countries they don’t even remember? How about we decide instead to free them from the fear of deportation by making them U.S. citizens today, right now?” 

“The people of Texas, regardless of our differences, can come together to decide we will never again take another child from another parent seeking asylum in this country.” 

6. Climate Change  

“We still have an opportunity to get this right. The people of the future, we are their voice right now— the people of 2018. They are going to want to know, while we still had the chance to do this, what did we do. Did we give in? Did we fear the future? Did we deny what was happening for political gain, the next election and our own careers? Or, did we decide we are going to seize on this as an opportunity?”

7. Drugs 

“This could be the state that leads the way, for all of those reasons, to make sure we end the war on drugs [and] end the prohibition on marijuana. And, for every young woman and every young man, whose only crime has been an arrest for that substance, I want to make sure that we expunge their arrest records so that they too can qualify for a Pell grant and continue with their lives, to do the things they are supposed to do.”

8. Women’s Health Care  

“I want to make sure that in a state that is now the epicenter of a maternal mortality crisis, [meaning] we are losing the lives of the women in this state faster than almost any other state, faster than almost any other developed country in the world. A state since 2011 has shut down so many of its family planning clinics. [It has made it so hard for women] to get a cervical cancer screening, see a family planning provider—to see a provider of any kind at all. That maternal mortality crisis is three times more deadly for women of color in the state of Texas today.”

“What if we were the same state that when we said universal health care that also means a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own body, and she has access to the health care and provider that allows her to do that?” 

9. Gay Rights 

“What if in this state where it is perfectly legal to fire someone based on their sexual orientation? What if in a state that seriously debated a transgender bathroom bill ban that sought to scare parents about transgender kids attacking their kids? Although, we know that transgender kids are far more likely to be the victims than the perpetrators of those attacks.” 

“In this state, your sexual orientation can be cause enough for you not to be able to adopt one of those [foster] kids into your home. You can be too gay in Texas to adopt one of those kids who needs a loving home to be in. What if it was this state that stood up for each and every person’s full civil rights, making sure that no one is treated differently based on their sexual orientation or any difference? It does not matter.  

10. Young People 

“Every political consultant, every expert, every pundit worth their salt thinks we are making the biggest mistake in the world, to be here with young people… Why? Because young people, they tell us, do not vote. Our answer to that is ‘I would not vote either; no one ever showed up, introduced themselves to me, heard what was on my mind, incorporated my story, my dreams, my aspirations into their campaign and into the work we want to do over the next six years.’”

I just want to tell you that you are every bit as part of this success as anyone else that we hear or see here in Texas. I’m looking forward to the 6th of November to celebrating a historic victory with you, the people of Waco and all over the state of Texas.”