This isn’t Beto O’Rourke’s first rodeo.
The former Texas congressman ran against Republican Sen. Ted Cruz in 2018 in a race that gained national attention and brought significant attention to O’Rourke. He would lose to Cruz in a narrow defeat but still maintain a national audience.
Soon enough that audience began to hum with buzz about a possible presidential run due to O’Rourke’s ability to capture the attention of voters and citizens outside Texas.
It seems like O’Rourke was listening as he added his name to the long list of Democrats running. It’s unclear at this moment if he should’ve just stayed home.
While he may have appeared more moderate during his run as a congressman, O’Rourke appears now to be closer to the classifications of liberal and progressive. His policy positions fall in line with most of his competitors on issues of student debt, minimum wage, federal marijuana legalization and taxes. He doesn’t stand out in any way there.
But on the issues of gun control, he’s fired up. Pun intended.
During the third Democratic debate, O’Rourke made a powerful statement, “Hell yes, we’re gonna take your AR-15, your AK-47.” After a summer of mass shootings that included Dayton, Ohio; Odessa and El Paso, Texas, it is clear that O’Rourke is capitalizing on the momentum of the gun control movement.
On a more personal note, he is from El Paso, so the events of the summer strike him on a more emotional level than other candidates. During the debate, O’Rourke told the story of a mother of an Odessa victim describing her daughter’s violent death.
“I met the mother of a 15-year-old girl who was shot by an AR-15,” O’Rourke said. “And that mother watched her bleed to death over the course of an hour because so many other people were shot by that AR-15 in Odessa and Midland, there weren’t enough ambulances to get to them in time.”
The story is harrowing in an age where gun violence seems to be continuous. But it may not appeal to all.
It’s a strong statement to make as a candidate that you plan to take voter’s guns during a time when the Second Amendment is a hot topic. Gun owners have repeatedly expressed that they feel under siege by movements to install gun buyback programs, universal background checks and assault weapon bans. O’Rourke has stood firm on his rhetoric despite the backlash. It’s admirable that he sticks to his beliefs even if it could prove detrimental to his campaign.
In his rhetoric on guns, O’Rourke has repeatedly brought up the intended use of assault weapons—for the battlefield. His message is simple, why should a weapon that is intended for war be in the custody of any American. Depending where one stands politically, this is either completely logical or illogical. It all depends on who you ask.
With the seemingly constant stream of shootings that take place year by year in this country, maybe a leader is needed who will take the most radical action. It may be the exact move that is needed to stop the carnage.
O’Rourke captured audiences during his Senate campaign against Ted Cruz, a seemingly loathed individual by Democratic voters. He has charisma and he’s young. These characteristics have made way for comparisons to Barack Obama when he ran in 2008.
The former president has some similarities to the charm of O’Rourke but they aren’t the same person. O’Rourke is more liberal than Obama, which will set a different path for him than the 44th president. It’s very possible that these comparisons are apart of the reason O’Rourke got involved in the race to begin with. Why else would a failed Senate candidate run for the highest seat in the land?
O’Rourke has an audience but the question remains if that audience is large enough to capture the nomination.
We will have to sit back, watch and wait.