The Heaviest Baggage for Beto Is the Democratic Party
Contrary to the popular narrative of his innocence and freshness, Rep. Beto O'Rourke has come into the U.S. Senate race in Texas with much more baggage than people realize.
No, it's not his DUI – or the fact that he denies fleeing the scene right afterward. Nor is it his dabbling in insider trading and suffering no consequences for it. Nor is it his mother's money-laundering or his father's possession of narcotics. Nor is it his father-in-law using O'Rourke's influence as a city councilman to buy up and redevelop historical property in El Paso.
No, the heaviest bag weighing down Beto O'Rourke is the "D" next to his name.
As the Brett Kavanaugh confirmation fiasco has shown, the Democrats are not merely the party that disagrees with Republicans; they are positively dangerous to both Republicans and Americans alike. They are the party that attacks good people with vicious slander, not only in the case of Kavanaugh, but with other people like Clarence Thomas two decades ago and Amy Coney Barrett and Russell Vought more recently. Why do they do it? Because those people are good (so they won't play dirty on principle), and because they can.
It's an ugly process, to be sure, but Democrats will claim that the ends will justify the means. Ostensibly, the ends in Kavanaugh's case are to safeguard Roe v. Wade, suppress conservative speech, and strike a blow against the patriarchy – dubious ends in themselves. In reality, Democrats want to put fear into their opposition. After seeing what happens to Sen. Ted Cruz and Sarah Huckabee Sanders at restaurants, or Sen. Jeff Flake in an elevator, or Steve Scalise at a baseball game, or Rand Paul on his own lawn, to list only a few examples in the past year, who would want to cross Democrats and their myriad supporters in the mainstream media?
And although the means that Democrats use to win are dangerous, their goals are even more so. As John Stossel aptly noted during the last presidential election, "[m]ost of the time, the danger isn't politicians' personal corruption. The real cost to our prosperity and freedom comes from what the politicians do legally." This is especially true with policies based on the Democratic platform that now openly espouses socialism, discriminates against Christians, argues against national borders and state sovereignty, promotes abortion and population control, rejects fundamental freedoms guaranteed in the American constitution, and recklessly promotes LGBT ideologies at the cost of societal well-being.
People feared Hillary in the last election because she embodied these two sides to the current Democratic Party: she was supremely crooked, and she had a terrible vision for the country. Many people took a chance with Trump because they figured that he would compromise on either his means or his ends. In many cases, he has done both and now enjoys a high approval rating as a result.
The deteriorating Democratic Party puts a Democrat nominee like O'Rourke in a tight spot. He has to win over voters outside his base by keeping silent on many issues. As the last debate clearly showed, he cannot talk honestly about gun control, or abortion, or immigration, or taxes, or law enforcement, or Supreme Court nominees without looking extreme. He can only state the obvious ("health care is important"; "illegal immigrants [sic] are people too," "women need to be empowered," etc.) and desperately try to change the subject (e.g., "Did I mention that I visited 254 counties in Texas while Cruz has not?").
Ted Cruz knows this and has therefore refrained from launching an easy smear campaign against O'Rourke. He only has to point that his opponent will raise taxes, grant amnesty for illegal aliens, confiscate guns, denounce police officers, legalize hard drugs, and be friends with Hillary Clinton – in other words, that he's a typical Democrat. No doubt, he would have continued along these lines in the second debate, but this was called off by Cruz because of the Kavanaugh confirmation vote. Curiously enough, within hours of calling it off, Cruz actually changed his mind and wanted to debate again, but O'Rourke had scheduled a Facebook Live commercial during that time – and probably felt that he had dodged a Cruz-shaped bullet.
Even if the debate had happened, and if O'Rourke had come out swinging, making promises of free college, free health care, and fewer legally owned guns, the problems with his candidacy – and every Democratic contender's candidacy – remain. At best, he is an incompetent liar who will thwart votes in the Senate on purely partisan lines; at worst, he will embrace the Democratic way and join the other clowns asking Kavanaugh about his beer consumption and yearbook scribbling, and commanding angry mobs online and on the ground to throw urine and feces at Republicans at the Austin capitol.
But what about the poor and marginalized Texans whom O'Rourke and his party pretend to champion? One can look at New York and California to see what would happen if Texas went blue: they would have to find another place to live, a place with more jobs, lower taxes, and cheaper property.
If this is the case, one might wonder whom the Democrats represent anymore. More and more, they represent the growing number of people removed from everyday reality: college students and their professors, artists, government bureaucrats, political activists, Hollywood celebrities, and Silicon Valley billionaires. Unfortunately, these also happen to be the loudest constituents in the Information Age. As Democrats move the goalposts ever leftward, these groups can follow them every step of the way and project the progressive narrative, however crazy or false. People in the real world, the ones who work at normal jobs, pay taxes, raise families, and don't have time to "evolve" their thinking, will find themselves becoming conservatives by default.
As pundits have argued since Trump's election, the Democrats' radicalization has been a good thing for Republicans who simply have to show up and prove their sanity to win – which seems to be Cruz's main strategy – but this is bad for voters who want more from their politicians. Forced to choose between a radical leftist and a boring do-nothing conservative, they may vote for the latter, but only in the hopes that he follows through with his plan to do nothing new. Even as it becomes more entertaining and dynamic, it also feels all the less relevant and effectual.
With problems to solve, this is not enough. As fun as it is for Republicans to debate Democrats about why socialism doesn't work, how boys and girls are different, why endorsing and funding terrorists and criminals is a bad idea, and why it 's not right to accuse people of gang rape without evidence, it distracts from much larger, more looming issues: runaway deficits, broken immigration policy, receding constitutional freedoms, the rise of Big Tech monopolies, and lousy yet expensive health care and education. Not so long ago, people used to discuss and debate these things. Now it's silly season all year long.
Lest anyone get the wrong idea and give up on politics, all this means is that conservatives need to stand pat and continue supporting their candidates. By contrast, Democrats need to stop retreating from reality and revise their platform, and losing elections is the only way this will happen – George Will was right about this but got the parties confused. Conservatives can thereby help themselves and their liberal neighbors by resisting the propaganda, voting for the right people, and keeping it real.