Beto O'Rourke, who is still running for president, has been in 'say anything' mode for months. Desperate to gain traction in a race in which he's been an overhyped bit player, the former Texas Congressman continues to pander to the hard Left on various social issues, telling them what they want to hear, and framing his radicalism as 'bravery' that rival candidates don't possess. The more potent effect he's having, it seems, is on the Right. He's steadily confirming the worst fears of conservatives by publicly and enthusiastically sliding to the bottom of several slippery slopes -- and he's attracting loud applause from progressive audiences, further entrenching center-right Americans' fears.
On gay marriage and LGBT rights, the resonant and successful message from supporters has been to appeal to fellow Americans' sense of individualism, fairness and equality. 'Our love doesn't affect you, and it's only fair to give us equal rights to pursue happiness' was a persuasive sentiment that eventually helped win over many skeptics. Then came the vengeance-minded enforcement brigade, targeting small businesses who didn't want to actively serve or participate in same-sex ceremonies. Even as those battles raged, religious liberty supporters were assured that houses of worship and explicitly religious organizations would of course be exempt from the new societal rules. Beto O'Rourke decided to let the mask slip and do away with that pretense, on national television, to cheers from LGBT activists:
This unconstitutional affront, which he insists would also apply to mosques and other religious groups, would almost certainly lose 9-0 at the Supreme Court, based on a recent key case. But O'Rourke has also signaled openness to a court-packing scheme, the purpose of which would be to dilute and undo 'unhelpful' precedents and dynamics. On guns, Democrats for years have claimed that of course they're not interested in coming and taking away anyone's guns -- they simply want some modest new 'common sense' regulations and restrictions that have broad public support. Not so fast, Beto has recently admitted, hell yes, we're taking away some of your guns, earning sustained ovations. When conservatives correctly labeled this an extreme confiscation regime, and some Democrats voiced concerns about the politics of the idea, leftist supporters claimed that "confiscation" was a scare tactic term and a 'talking point' that didn't really apply:
Senator Cory Booker (D., N.J.) admonished fellow presidential candidate Pete Buttigieg on Monday for referring to a mandatory gun buyback proposal as “confiscation” on the grounds that doing so propagates a right-wing talking point. “Calling buyback programs ‘confiscation’ is doing the NRA’s work for them,” wrote Booker on Twitter, “and they don’t need our help.” Buttigieg insisted on referring to buybacks as “confiscation” in an interview on the Snapchat show Good Luck America. Previously, the South Bend, Indiana Mayor shied away from such comparisons.
But Beto usefully stomped all over that finger-wagging damage control, confirming door-to-door government confiscation is precisely what he has in mind:
.@BetoORourke says if someone refuses to turn in their AR-15s then "in that case I think there would be a visit by law enforcement to recover that firearm..."https://t.co/i0eRK7w63H pic.twitter.com/QdxsBV7Kyr— Julio Rosas (@Julio_Rosas11) October 16, 2019
This is a stunning and revealing reversal for the ex-Congressman. As I've noted previously, when he was running for Senate in Texas, Beto took pains to file down the sharper edges of his ideas, repeatedly reassuring Lone Star State voters that "nobody" would be coming for their firearms, a common refrain:
If Beto O'Rourke had campaigned on gun confiscation and punishing churches that don't embrace gay marriage, he'd have gotten blown out by Ted Cruz, so he modulated. Having lost, and with a new audience to pander to, he's letting his leftist flag fly, allowing everyone to see what his eventual goals were all along. The O'Rourke presidential campaign will likely soon come to an end, relegated to an historical footnote. But his various antics and proposals will not soon be forgotten by many conservatives, who view his abrupt turn as an ominous sign of things to come. O'Rourke, who just last year stumped in Texas as a 'sunny,' unifying figure, has single-handedly worsened America's toxic partisan divide, which is largely fueled by a level of profound mistrust that Beto has worked hard to effectively vindicate. So before you exit stage left to pursue some new self-absorbed project, take one last bow, Beto. You've managed to actually accomplish something.