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

Democratic presidential candidate Beto O'RourkeBeto O'RourkeO'Rourke responds to Buttigieg's gun criticism: 'That calculation and fear is what got us here in the first place' Sunday shows - Guns dominate after Democratic debate O'Rourke says pushback to his mandatory gun buyback proposal shows Washington's 'screwed up priorities' 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.”

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“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 LeeJackson Lee: 'Racism is a national security threat' Most oppose cash reparations for slavery: poll Poll: Most Americans oppose reparations 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.