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Opinion: Out with O’Rourke

Democratic+gubernatorial+candidate+Beto+ORourke+speaks+in+Rudder+Theatre+on+Wednesday%2C+Sept.+28%2C+2022.
Photo by Cameron Johnson

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke speaks in Rudder Theatre on Wednesday, Sept. 28, 2022.

On Sept. 28, 2022, Robert Francis O’Rourke, who likes to call himself “Beto,” came to campus to give a speech on his plans to turn Texas blue. As he was hitting on standard Democrat talking points such as gun control, abortion and the Texas power grid, one question came to mind — is this the best Democrats have to offer?

If there is one thing we know about Beto, it’s that he is no stranger to defeat. In the “blue wave of 2018,” Beto lost to the unpopular Senator Ted Cruz by about 2.6 points. Desiring another humiliating defeat, Beto entered the presidential race. After multiple gaffes, “The View” accusing him of “white privilege” and some awful polling numbers, Beto dropped out.

Once again, Beto is hurtling towards another political buzzsaw in the form of Gov. Greg Abbott. The RealClearPolitics polling average currently shows Abbott with an 8-point lead and FiveThirtyEight’s election forecast has Beto losing in 95% of possible election scenarios.

At first glance Beto’s unpopularity is surprising. Democrats have been gaining steam in Texas after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and the tragic Uvalde mass shooting. However, Texas is still a fundamentally red state in a year that should be favorable for Republicans. President Joe Biden is unpopular, a majority of Americans think the country is on the wrong track and a recent ABC News/Washington Post poll shows 74% of Americans think the state of the economy is poor. With Democrats facing severe problems on the national level, state and local Democrats will have to work harder to earn voters’ trust.

There is also the problem of Beto’s noticeable lack of principle, which has turned him into the political equivalent of a pretzel.

While running for president, Beto staunchly advocated for severe gun control. During a Democratic primary debate in 2019, he famously quipped, “Hell, yes, we’re going to take your AR-15, your AK-47.” Now that he’s running for governor of Texas, a state with more registered guns than the population of Wyoming, he’s trying to make everyone forget his enthusiasm for confiscating one of the most commonly owned rifles in the country.

“I’m not interested in taking anything from anyone. What I want to make sure that we do is defend the Second Amendment,” Beto said at a campaign stop in February.

So when running for president, seizing legally owned firearms is acceptable, but when running for governor, it’s not? How stupid does he think we are?

Since his flip flop on gun confiscation, Beto has endorsed universal background checks, raising the minimum age to buy rifles, such as the AR-15, to 21 years old and implementing red flag laws. While well-crafted red flag laws may have some merit, Beto’s “solutions” are unlikely to substantially reduce gun violence or prevent the next mass shooting. The reasoning is simple: All of this reduces the rights of law-abiding citizens and ignores the law-breakers.

Not one of Beto’s proposals would get criminals off the street nor make it harder for them to obtain a firearm. According to the Department of Justice, in 2019, only about 10% of would-be criminals received a gun from a licensed dealer. Of the 10% that do, a majority passed the background check without a hitch. It’s clear the problem of gun violence isn’t the fault of lawful firearm retailers.

Suppose Beto cares about reducing gun crime in Texas. In that case, I suggest he look for ways to go after the criminals who subvert our legal system instead of demonizing Americans who lawfully exercise their Second Amendment right to own a gun.

In addition to Beto’s ineffective gun policies, his position on abortion is significantly more extreme than most Americans, much less the average Texas voter. In March 2019, Beto declared he wouldn’t get in the way of a woman getting an abortion even during the third trimester. Since then, Beto has refused to say whether he thinks any restrictions on abortion would be acceptable.

I’ll admit that abortion polling is complex because, for most Americans, the question of when an abortion should be legal or illegal isn’t black and white. However, the polling is remarkably clear regarding late-term abortion — 80% of Americans are against it, and for good reason. During the third trimester, the baby’s bones are almost fully developed, and the mother will begin to feel their baby stretching and kicking in their womb. The miracle of life is unquestionably visible in this stage of pregnancy, but for Beto, killing the baby should still be an option.

I’m unapologetically pro-life, but from a purely political perspective, Beto’s radical position on abortion is beyond the pale even to more liberal voters.

For the past six years, the liberal media ecosystem has lauded Beto to be the man who would turn Texas blue. From gushing Washington Post columns clamoring about “Betomania” to the adoring front pages of magazines such as Vanity Fair, Beto is implied to be the great Democratic savior of the South. Yet, by all available metrics, the man from El Paso is destined for another humiliating defeat in November.

If there is anything to learn from Beto’s failed campaigns and the millions of wasted dollars, it’s that politicians will do anything besides get a real job.

Ryan Lindner is a political science sophomore and opinion writer for The Battalion.

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About the Contributor
Ryan Lindner
Ryan Lindner, Head Opinion Editor
Ryan Lindner is a political science senior from Hutto, Texas, minoring in history. Ryan joined The Battalion as an opinion columnist in June 2022  until he became the Assistant Opinion Editor for the Spring 2023 semester. Since July 2023, Ryan has been The Battalion's Head Opinion Editor. Ryan has covered a range of topics, from local politics and campus culture to national issues, such as school choice and drug policy. After graduation, Ryan hopes to pursue a master's degree in international affairs.
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