“Beto” may be gone from the Democratic debate stage, but he is not forgotten. Much as they might wish to quickly relegate his disastrous campaign to the ash heap of this election cycle, the remaining Democrat candidates are already irreversibly committed to the very same extremist policies that doomed his candidacy.
Robert Francis “Beto” O’Rourke entered the 2020 scramble for the Democratic nomination in the highest of spirits, riding a nationwide following of “hip” white liberals inspired by his unsuccessful effort to oust Ted Cruz from the U.S. Senate in 2018. He lined up a fawning Vanity Fair cover story and raised $6.1 million on the very first day of his campaign. But all the arm-waving, table-standing antics in the world couldn’t carry him any further toward the nomination.
By the summer’s end, Beto had abandoned his attempts to “inspire” people by sheer force of his middling charisma — which some liberals hilariously compared to JFK’s — and began trying to carve out a “lane” for himself by touting increasingly ludacris, extremist, left-wing policies. He tried to play the role of an unapologetic progressive crusader, especially on social issues, but he just wound up looking desperate.
Beto’s groveling confessions of his “white privilege” just made the people who complain about white privilege hate him even more. His open-borders fanaticism, constant blabbering about the President’s “white supremacy,” and contemptuous treatment of voters who don’t share his views just made him look like a jerk. His vulgarity-laced rants about how “hell yes” he would send the police into citizen’s homes to confiscate their guns were the stuff of dreams to the people who make Republican campaign ads.
When all this didn’t work, Beto made one final foray into the uncharted abyss of the left by claiming he would take away tax exemptions from every church, synagogue, and religious university that didn’t start performing gay weddings. It was mind-blowingly tone deaf.
Beto’s strategy of appealing directly to his Party’s far-left fringe didn’t work. His poll numbers tanked, his donations dried up, and it looked as though he wouldn’t even qualify for the next Democratic debate. By November 1, the game was officially up before a single primary ballot had even been cast.
Evidently, however, Beto’s former opponents haven’t figured out why Beto cratered. It wasn’t just because of his spastic speaking style or lack of organization. It was because his whole campaign was based on bad and unpopular ideas.
How do we know the other 2020 Democrats don’t understand this? Because they’re refusing to repudiate those bad ideas.
A record number of Americans believe immigration is the most important problem facing the country, with only 27 percent believing levels should be increased. Two-thirds of Americans oppose decriminalizing illegal immigration, and even Democrat primary voters are split on that issue. Why on Earth is almost every Democrat mimicking Beto’s effort to portray himself as the great champion of open borders?
Why, instead of acknowledging that mass gun confiscation isn’t going to work, are the other Democrats trying to find a way to rebrand Beto’s dumb idea? Elizabeth Warren, for example, won’t use the word confiscation. Instead, she wants to eliminate private gun ownership incrementally, killing the Second Amendment with a thousand paper cuts.
Cory Booker is much more Beto-esque, declaring that citizens should be “thrown in jail” if they don’t get rid of their guns in a “reasonable period” of time. When South Bend, Indiana Mayor Pete Buttigieg — a military veteran from a state that takes the Second Amendment quite seriously — pointed out that talking about “gun confiscation” might not be a great idea for anyone hoping to win the votes of ordinary Americans, Booker accused him of “doing the NRA’s work for them.”
How long until one of the remaining candidates revives Beto’s call to put churches out of business unless they embrace the left’s social agenda? None of them have taken that bait just yet, but plenty of them have endorsed the exact same “gender identity” ideology as Beto, which the majority of Americans believe is bunk.
Charlie Kirk is the founder and executive director of Turning Point USA, an advocacy group for young conservatives.