Beto attempted to use his long-dead ancestor's participation in the institution of slavery as a justification for why he supports reparations. While he may feel personal guilt for the actions of his distant ancestors, it's unclear how this implicates the vast majority of Americans who aren't descended from slave owners.
The former Democratic congressman from Texas wrote in a Medium post that he was recently given documents showing that his paternal great-great-great grandfather listed two women, Rose and Eliza, as his possessions.
"That those enslaved Americans owned by my ancestors were denied their freedom, denied the ability to amass wealth, denied full civil rights in America after slavery also had long term repercussions for them and their descendants," O'Rourke wrote.
"I benefit from a system that my ancestors built to favor themselves at the expense of others," he added in the post, a defense of reparations.
"We all need to know our own story as it relates to the national story, much as I am learning mine. It is only then, I believe, that we can take the necessary steps to repair the damage done and stop visiting this injustice on the generations that follow ours."