O'Rourke: Cash reparations policy 'stops the conversation' on the issue

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeThe Hill's Campaign Report: Second debate lineups set up high-profile clash Biden, Harris set for second Democratic debate showdown 2020 Democrats react to 'send her back' chants at Trump rally MORE said in an interview published Tuesday that all Americans must understand the country's history before the U.S. can pursue cash reparations for the descendants of slaves. 

“I would support those steps that would allow us to repair the damage done and to stop visiting this kind of injustice on future generations,” O'Rourke said in an interview with The Root. “But I am convinced in a democracy, unless everybody understands the story of this country — and most people do not — you’ll never get to that action or that end result.”


“I think part of the problem is that not everyone knows that story,” added the former Texas congressman. “In a democracy, unless you have the political will to take a very tough step, you’re not going to be able to do it.”

He said that to pursue a cash reparations policy would stop the conversation on the issue. 

"Starting at the end precludes us from being able to take the necessary steps to be able to achieve it," he said. "That conclusion, that policy action, stops the conversation for so many millions of our fellow Americans."

He said he believes it's important for a president to make sure Americans have these types of conversations. 

O'Rourke has previously said that he would support creating a commission to study reparations for black Americans. He specifically backed a resolution reintroduced last year by Rep. Sheila Jackson LeeSheila Jackson LeeJudiciary chair demands Hope Hicks clarify closed-door testimony Houston pastor will offer sanctuary to immigrants willing to be US citizens Court filings show Trump, Cohen contacts amid hush money payments MORE (D-Texas) that would establish a commission to "examine slavery and discrimination in the colonies and the United States from 1619 to the present and recommend appropriate remedies." 

A House panel last week discussed the issue of reparations

O'Rourke is one of the more than two dozen people vying for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination in a contest where reparations has become a hot button issue.