I’m Beto O’Rourke. I lead Powered by People, the Texas-based organization that works to expand democracy and produce Democratic victories through voter registration and direct voter engagement. I founded Powered by People in December 2019. Since that time, the organization has helped to register over 250,000 unregistered Texans to vote.

I’m also a fourth-generation Texan. I was born and raised in El Paso, where I have served as a small business owner, a city council representative, and a member of Congress. My experience across Texas has given me the great chance to visit often with individuals and communities across the state, to understand the personal and political issues that are most important to them, and to see how closely their concerns mirror those of Americans everywhere across our country.

Now more than ever, I listen during these conversations for the common ground that can bring Americans back together. Time and again, I learn important lessons in the process about our history, about community, and about the important role we each have to play in the ongoing project of shaping and protecting our American democracy.

It’s the most important of these many lessons that I hope to share with you in my upcoming class, Five Things I’ve Learned about America – and Our Common Ground. During this live 90-minute session, I’ll share what I’ve found to be the most essential themes that have emerged from my conversations Americans everywhere.

Most important among, them the understanding that:

  • We are always becoming a democracy. In fact, the American system of government is not a fixed relic handed carefully down, but a live question in our hands each day. I’ve learned that democracy is constantly in creation (or in destruction) by the people who participate in it. We can’t know the ultimate timeline or outcome of a given action, but invariably the choice to act itself is a choice for democracy.
  • Our shared history is our shared power. I’ve learned that history holds twin gifts: From any corner of America you can unearth the stories of courage and persistence from our predecessors, stories that show us how to be ordinary individuals who triumph. From history we also gain the advantage of recognition: once you learn the ways people in power have tried to hold on to it, you’re not confused when the same tricks of oppression show up in new forms.
  • Language is a powerful force. I’ve learned that the ability of words to connect, to stir hope and to drive good action has given me some of my greatest joy. Listening to the stories of the people I have met over thousands of gatherings and doorsteps has given me a deeper life education than any library or university. But there is a world of horrific division in language, too: pretending that words have no danger when we have seen hate and threats turn to death is a blindness.
  • ACTION is the antidote to despair, and the key to victory. I’ve found that there is only so much news about America that I can take in before I need to act, or look away. Watching in stillness is the express train to despair. Instead, the moment I get moving, with actions large or small, I am back in company with those who have worked toward the ideal of this country before us. I am back in company with the multitudes of Americans spurred by the same values to work and speak, serve and donate, lead and follow for the ongoing right to freedom and democracy.
  • No victory is ever final, and the fight is never over. I’ve also learned that – whether it is the gutting of the Voting Rights Act in the Supreme Court’s 2013 Shelby decision, or the overturning of Roe v Wade in their 2022 Dobbs decision – history makes clear that no victory is ever final. That means that the fight is never over. We must commit ourselves to the work of winning and sustaining victories for as long as we live in our great democracy. The consequence of failing to accept this lesson is potentially to lose the very democracy that makes our victories possible.

As I’ll explain when we’re together, for all these reasons, now is a crucial time in this history of our country. There’s much we all can do today – and every day – to make a difference with the power to impact our own lives and the lives of people across America.

I hope you can join me and Resolute Square’s Megan Matson for this free, live session. I hope, too, that you’ll come with questions and ideas and experiences you can share.

I very much look forward to meeting you,

– Beto O’Rourke