As weird as it was for a Democrat to be inching his way up the polls in Texas, it was weird for a girl who is the product of two very Republican parents to be supporting him.

It was a wet, humid day and dozens of people huddled around a small stage just off the Texas A&M campus in College Station, Texas. Although the sky was gray, the excitement everyone felt to see this rock star politician was enough to brighten everyone’s day.

So I stood clutching a Beto for Senate sign and pushed my way through the crowd to try and get a spot under the roof where the rain could not get to me. Suddenly, the crowd went crazy as a fellow Texas A&M student took to the stage to introduce Beto O’Rourke to our small, college town community.

It is rare, to say the least, to have a Democrat hold a rally in a very conservative city in a very conservative state. For many years Democratic politicians attempted to take control over the Republicans that controlled Texas for many years, to no avail. This did not stop Beto.

In his time campaigning to unseat incumbent Ted Cruz, Beto has visited all 254 counties in Texas and became an internet sensation when his remarks about how NFL players kneeling during the national anthem should not be regarded as unconstitutional went viral. His fresh charisma and ability to speak about issues that no other Texan politician wants to touch is what propelled him onto a national stage.

I watched his live streams, saw his interview with Ellen and scrolled past countless Facebook posts from people sharing how they love him, or hate him. I saw all of this, yet I did not know who he really was. Hence, the town hall.

As weird as it was for a Democrat to be inching his way up the polls in Texas, it was weird for a girl who is the product of two very Republican parents to be supporting him.

This was common for some people at my university.

The crowd erupted in applause as Beto took to the stage and immediately went into a speech that was much like the ones I’ve seen before. A lot of the stuff he said hit close to home, some of what he said left me confused. However, everything he said was presented in a way that made me want to believe him.

Regardless over whether or not you side with him he changes what it means to be a politician in Texas.

I think that is the whole appeal. Myself being a minority in Texas who also attends a predominately white institution it is easy to feel like the “other.” While listening to Beto’s speech about diversity and inclusion in a political climate full of uncertainties, I started to understand the fascination behind his ground-breaking campaign.

Regardless over whether or not you side with him he changes what it means to be a politician in Texas. In a state that is infamous for its conservative voter demographic he addresses issues that many people tiptoe around.

Maybe that is what we need. For far too long Texas, specifically, has been rooted deep in its values and no one has come along to shake the status quo.  This is the time, no matter what your political affiliation is, to reexamine what it means to be a voter in 2018, and to be a voter in Texas.

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