A human-shaped wax candle beat Beto O’Rourke by less than 3% in the 2018 race for the Texas senate. And the hottest, highest-profile Texan the world has ever known was conspicuously absent from the campaign trail. She could have taken Texas back from the creepiest mime the world has ever known but the Houston native kept the hot sauce in her bag until just two hours before the polls closed — and a full month after the voter registration deadline had passed.
What I can’t figure out is why.
To be clear, I don’t think Beyoncé is solely responsible for saving Texans from themselves. But Beyoncé doesn’t make mistakes. And if she really wanted Beto for the Texas Senate she probably could have made it so had she acted earlier. Much earlier.
Terms like “meteoric rise” were invented for market-conquering shapeshifters like her. She absolutely will be the Black Bill Gates. In addition to two solid decades of success in the music industry, she is a movie star, a fashion designer, and the better half of a power couple. And with 119 million Instagram followers* and a majority of them are likely in the coveted voting demographic that would’ve slapped that 3% right out of Ted Cruz’s clammy hands. How much momentum could she have created by posting #BeyForBeto or #Beyto on any, let alone all of her social media? I don’t want to think of how many hundreds of thousands of votes she could’ve used her celebrity platform to leverage. So why did she squander a second opportunity to mobilize the so-called Beyhive to change the entire political landscape of the US?
Now I’m not saying blame the goalie for a game-losing kick the defense should’ve prevented in the first place. But Beyoncé isn’t the goalie. She’s a power forward. And she waited too long to strike. While that is the full extent of my ability to make a soccer metaphor, I can confidently say that Beto’s campaign was all the right kinds of offense.
He was forthcoming about his not-so-scandalous scandals and youthful indiscretions. He took ownership of his mistakes and made no excuses for his back-in-the-day DUI. He didn’t stoop to Cruz’s hilariously back-firing attempts to sling mud. He let the internet speak for him when the Cruz campaign tried to shame him with his old mugshot and his 90s alt-rock band’s promo pic: “While I’m sure this seems like devastating oppo research to the joyless nerds who work for Cruz, the response to the pic is sure to take the pleats right out of their khakis,” — BloomJoy Collective
But most importantly, he is an eloquent orator. Remember when politicians used to have to be able to speak well? He is fully informed about the entire breadth of issues his constituents are concerned about. He weighs in on polarizing issues with empathy and insight. He refused all PAC contributions. He has internet-ready charm and charisma. He skateboards. Sort of.
So what else could he have done to earn Beyoncé’s advocacy when it could still tip the scales? This isn’t the first time she was unfashionably late. Pantsuits notwithstanding, if she really was “with her” in 2016 then why wasn’t she performing three months or three weeks before the historic presidential election instead of just three days?
The US is a constitutional monarchy. But we aren’t British. The real power here lies with the Queen. Sure, we have elected officials but we mostly take our lead from movie stars and pop culture divas. We have since long before Madonna. So if the Queen is going to do some power-sharing by endorsing candidates, if she decides to share her empire with a new emperor, why didn’t she do it the way she does everything else? With everything she’s got?
I am reluctant to publicly criticize our Queen. Please don’t hurt me, I still have the Dangerously in Love cd in my car! Seriously! I’ve been a fan for so long I bought her music before there were mp3s. But I do want to know why she didn’t consult with political experts the same way she does with choreographers, songwriters, producers and record labels execs. There isn’t a flag-waving campaign strategist out there who wouldn’t stiff-arm every last phone-banking door-knocker to get to someone like Beyoncé, to capitalize on her extraordinary sphere of influence. Did she even reach out to the experts?
Maybe she thought elections work the way Tidal does? That an eleventh-hour endorsement of a candidate would spark the same wildfire that the PR-free midnight drop of the Visual Album did? But even if it did, buzz is not the same thing as eligible and registered voters. So why did she only cater to the last-minute voters who may or may not even be able to get to a polling station within those precious two hours? While two hours feels like a lot of time for things like waiting for the doctor or having the hiccups, it isn’t much time to decide on a political candidate, physically get yourself to whichever polling station you’re nearest to, wait in line and fill out your ballot by 8pm.
Maybe she has motives more complex than a Beto fan from Oregon can understand.
So as a lot of commenters responded to her Instagram post, Thanks?
But remember, when you show up unannounced in the middle of the night it feels more like a booty call than a committed relationship. And this kind of relationship could’ve changed everything.
*While I was writing this piece that number rose to 120 million followers — 1 million more IG followers in less than two days