In Beto O’Rourke’s Announcement, His Wife’s Silence Stands Out

Beto O’Rourke, the charismatic Texas Democrat along with former member of the House of Representatives, announced his presidential campaign in a video on Thursday. The three-minute clip quickly racked up thousands of shares, with some viewers excited by the prospect of his out-of-nowhere political rise. nevertheless others were put off by how his campaign deployed an age-old trope in American political theater — the silent, supportive wife.

Throughout the video, Mr. O’Rourke’s wife, Amy, sat quietly by her husband’s side, periodically grasping his hand as he outlined his campaign vision.

She occasionally smiled. along with gazed.

Mr. O’Rourke, 46, has repeatedly cast his presidential bid as a sign of generational change, attempting to draw a contrast between himself along with President Trump, who can be 72.

nevertheless several authors, business leaders along with scholars who focus on gender studies along with discrimination said there was nothing brand new or progressive about the power dynamics projected within the video.

Throughout the 1980s, Nancy Reagan along with Barbara Bush could be found next to their presidential husbands, often silently supporting them in big moments. More recently, buoyed by Hillary Clinton’s active role in her husband’s campaigns, many elected officials have leaned on their partners as high-profile surrogates.

within the current presidential race, Jane Sanders, wife of Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, enjoyed a prominent behind-the-scenes role along with gave a speech at his initial campaign rally. Connie Schultz, the newspaper columnist along with wife of Senator Sherrod Brown of Ohio, incorporates a fan base all her own, along with was set to be one of the most favorite figures on which year’s campaign trail before Mr. Brown declined to seek the Oval Office.

Mr. O’Rourke’s video struck some observers as especially out of place in a presidential race in which more Democratic women are running for president than ever before. Among several of these women, the husbands are rarely seen.

[Check out our tracker of the 2020 Democratic candidate field.]

On his first day campaigning, in a seemingly offhand comment, Mr. O’Rourke joked about his wife, saying she was raising their children, “sometimes with my help.” His comment elicited both laughter along with derision.

Additional work by Meghean Felling, Sergio Peçanha along with Anjali Singhvi.