There is no indication that O’Rourke ever engaged in the edgiest sorts of hacking activity, such as breaking into computers or writing code that enabled others to do so. But his membership in the group could explain his approach to politics better than anything on his resume. His background in hacking circles has repeatedly informed his strategy as he explored and subverted established procedures in technology, the media and government.
“There’s just this profound value in being able to be apart from the system and look at it critically and have fun while you’re doing it,” O’Rourke said. “I think of the Cult of the Dead Cow as a great example of that.”
…When he was a teen, O’Rourke also frequented sites that offered cracked software. The bulletin boards were “a great way to get cracked games,” O’Rourke said, adding that he later realized his habit wasn’t morally defensible and stopped.
Using pirated software violates copyright laws, attorneys say, but in practice, software companies have rarely sued young people over it. When they do go after someone, it is typically an employer with workers using multiple unlicensed copies.
…Politically, O’Rourke has taken some conventional liberal positions, supporting abortion rights and opposing a wall on the Mexican border. But he takes a libertarian view on other issues, faulting excessive regulation and siding with businesses in congressional votes on financial industry oversight and taxes.
His more conservative positions have drawn fire from Democrats who see him as too friendly with Republicans and corporations. His more progressive votes and punk-rock past helped his recent opponent, Republican Sen. Ted Cruz, portray O’Rourke as too radical for socially conservative Texas.
…Hackers generally support net neutrality as part of a broader worldview that the free flow of information is necessary and good.
“I understand the democratizing power of the internet, and how transformative it was for me personally, and how it leveraged the extraordinary intelligence of these people all over the country who were sharing ideas and techniques,” O’Rourke said.