“We have to hope and pray that things turn around in November,” a friend said over dinner on Friday.
I felt a muscle in my jaw tense.

“If only Ted Cruz could be defeated in the Senate,” a Facebook friend mused. “But I’m not holding my breath. Texas is a red state … So I wouldn’t bet on Cruz losing this year. But I can dream, can’t I?”

Hope. Pray. Dream. A certain peasant fatalism has crept into Democratic thinking.

OPINION

Not without reason. Our nightmare president builds his cult of personality every day while the party supporting him sheds its values and beliefs, rolling at his feet like puppies.

Yet surrender is premature. Our nation was not forged and preserved by a bunch of quitters.

So while I try to religiously avoid all Facebook debates as pointless time sinks, I couldn’t resist commenting after his “dream” remark: “Well, that and send Beto O’Rourke money. I am.”

Everyone knows who Ted Cruz is. The most hated man in the Senate. “Lucifer in the flesh,” in John Boehner’s memorable description. But who is Beto O’Rourke? He is the Democrat running against Cruz this November and doing surprisingly well. Last week, a new poll showed a close race, Cruz leading 47 to 44 percent. O’Rourke has raised more money than Cruz, thanks to small donors such as myself.

No Democrat has won statewide office in Texas in 24 years, so it’s a long shot. But Satan’s senator is obviously scared.

Even before O’Rourke’s victory in the March 6 primary was confirmed, his campaign aired a radio commercial mocking O’Rourke’s first name, accusing him of changing it to appeal to voters. In response, O’Rourke released a photo of himself as a toddler, wearing a sweater with “Beto” — his nickname since birth — stitched across the front.

Cruz’s actual first name is “Rafael,” a reminder that Trump does not hold monopoly on either deceit or hypocrisy.

There are many ways Democrats can manage to boot their chances this November. Overconfidence is one. Skewing left is another. And limiting our horizons is a third. Illinois is a blue state. We have two solid Senators — veteran workhorse Dick Durbin, a key voice opposing Trump, and new senator (and new mom) Tammy Duckworth.

Still, that is no reason to dust our hands off and declare our job done. It’s important to look to other places, like Texas, and to the future, to newcomers such as O’Rourke, a young (45) articulate (Columbia English major) experienced (from city council to House of Representatives) and active: he’s vowed to visit every one of the 254 counties in Texas.

“Everyone deserves to be heard,” he said. “It is my benefit to listen to every single Texan I seek to represent.”
While he’s listening, he’s speaking out against “this smallness, this bigotry, this paranoia, this anxiety.” Four words that will define America if we let them.

The Democrats need to flip two seats to regain control of the Senate. Will Texas be one of them? Trump took the state 52 to 43 percent over Hillary Clinton. But Ted Cruz is no Donald Trump.

The white nationalists Trump praised chanted “blood and soil” marching in Charlottesville last summer. Democrats should be chanting, not “hopes and prayers,” not “wishes and dreams,” but “votes and money.” Dollars are the ammunition needed to win elections, unfortunately — arguments are futile and protests unheard, but dollars get the job done, or can.

More than 1,000 people greeted O’Rourke at the University of North Texas in Denton Friday morning.
“I know that we are a bigger people,” O’Rourke said. “The very foundation of our strength, our success and our security is that we are the destination of choice for people the world over — and no state more so than the state of Texas, the most diverse state in the most diverse country on earth.”

The next two election will decide our country’s fate for decades, if not forever. Fear, malice and lies are running against understanding, compassion and honesty. A starker choice cannot be imagined.

So by all means, hope and pray if it makes you feel better. Dream and protest, too. Couldn’t hurt. But don’t forget to also put your money where your mouth is. If you aren’t helping candidates like Beto O’Rourke, then you aren’t helping.