Beto O'Rourke's March to Austin is straight outta 1965, includes "featured guest" Jesse Jackson

Beto O'Rourke's March to Austin is straight outta 1965, includes "featured guest" Jesse Jackson
(Nick Wagner/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Failed presidential and senatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke is leading a four-day march to Austin. He stepped into his way back machine and landed in 1965. Beto is joined by Rev. William Barber, leader of the Poor People’s Campaign. The purpose is to protest the “shackles on our democracy”, alleged voter suppression, and other assorted grievances. The march will end in Austin on Saturday.

The march began in Georgetown, Texas, about 30 miles north of Austin on Wednesday. They left Christ Lutheran Church and walked along the frontage road. The 60s vibe was alive and well as they sang protest songs and chanted their demands. “Ain’t gonna let nobody turn me around,” they sang. “I’m gonna keep on a-walking, keep on a-talking, marching down to freedom land.” I know. All they needed was Hillary Clinton saying, “I don’t feel no ways tired.”

Though the main focus is on voting rights and the legislation before the Texas State Legislature that addresses election integrity, the Poor People’s Campaign also protests in favor of a $15 minimum wage, ending the filibuster, and immigration rights. Beto fancies himself as now deceased Rep. John Lewis, apparently.

The effort, organized by national voting rights advocates and former Congressman Beto O’Rourke, is meant to evoke the 1965 march over the Edmund Pettus Bridge where the late U.S. Rep. John Lewis and others were beaten by police. It culminates with a rally Saturday in Austin, where supporters are hoping to attract upwards of 10,000 people.

“In this great democracy, there are no sidelines,” O’Rourke said at a press gathering Tuesday afternoon. “There are no grandstands, there is no paying witness to what’s happening right now. You are in this fight, or all of us are out of it.”

Barber chose to begin the march in Georgetown in honor of Jessie Daniel Ames, a local suffragist and voting rights advocate who helped start the anti-lynching movement in the South in the early 1900s.

“This march is about saying, we cannot have a country where after an election, any party can just then decide, we’re going to pass laws to rollback voting opportunities because we don’t like who won,” Barber said in an interview last week. “And you can’t do that state by state, litigation by litigation. We need federal protection.”

There it is – Democrats want to federalize elections and that is the reason they support the For the People Act that passed out of the U.S. House and is in the Senate now. The goal is to get that monstrosity passed while Democrats control Congress. References to lynchings and days passed are just part of the mind games being played. It’s being called the March for Democracy. “We are going to be the moral resurrection,” Barber said at a combination pep rally, outdoor religious revival, and news conference beside Christ Lutheran Church in Georgetown. About 150 people came out to hear the speakers. Barber said he can’t promise the same results that came from the Selma to Montgomery marches and he’s right to do so. This isn’t 1965 and times have changed since then. All registered, legal voters can vote in Texas. The new election integrity legislation extends the early voting period before elections, which increases opportunities to vote.

Yesterday, a “special guest” as one Facebook post reported showed up to support the march. Jesse Jackson, professional race-baiting grifter extraordinaire flew in to briefly join in with the march. It’s hot in Texas, you know, and Jesse’s no spring chicken. As a matter of fact, the marchers are taking turns walking the thirty miles. It seems modern-day marchers aren’t as hardy as back in the 60s. “We have to protect the right to vote,” Jackson told one reporter. Deep thoughts from Jesse. And, hyperbole because that’s how he rolls.

It turns out that Jesse and Barber have been busy flying around to protest. On Monday they were arrested as they protested in front of Senator Sinema’s office in Arizona. This protest was about ending the filibuster. One retired teacher groused about minority party rights in Congress.

Thirty-nine people, including civil rights champions Revs. Jesse Jackson and William J. Barber II, were arrested Monday during a sit-in outside the Phoenix office of Sen. Kyrsten Sinema, a conservative Democrat whose opposition to filibuster reform is enabling Senate Republicans to obstruct the passage of progressive legislation on voting rights, the minimum wage, immigration reform, climate action, and more.

“I taught kids for 25 years that this is what you have to do to change things, and now it’s time to step up,” Barry Smith, a 59-year-old retired schoolteacher from Phoenix, told the Associated Press prior to being arrested outside Sinema’s office. “We’re supposed to be a democracy, so having a minority running the Senate is just so infuriating.”

Before they were arrested and charged with third-degree criminal trespass at Monday’s sit-in, “several hundred activists marched about a mile from a park to Sinema’s office in Phoenix’s Biltmore neighborhood, chanting ‘end the filibuster now,'” according to the AP.

The march concludes Saturday at the state capitol building. And, there’s a Willie Nelson concert scheduled. Because, of course, there is.

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