I can’t help but wonder if Beto O’Rourke is getting ready to end his campaign for president. His “campaign reset” focusing on gun control hasn’t given him a bump in polling; in fact his best poll in the past week had him at four percent in the presidential primary, and there’ve been seven polls in the last seven days where O’Rourke received zero or one percent support from respondents. He’s joked about threatening a kitten in order to drive up donations, and today just happens to be the filing deadline for 3rd quarter campaign fundraising efforts. O’Rourke raised $3.6-million from April to June of this year, which was a pretty steep drop from the $6-million he raised in his first 24 hours as a candidate. And once heightened qualifications for debates kick in starting in November, he’ll need to average four percent in the polls in order to be on the debate stage. As of right now, he’d be watching the debates on TV like the rest of us instead of dropping f-bombs in front of a national audience.
There’s another possible sign that O’Rourke may be thinking about his exit strategy. In a new op-ed at Teen Vogue (yes, really), O’Rourke is challenging all of the other Democrats running for president to adopt the “March For Our Lives” “Peace Plan”, as he has done. Maybe it’s just Beto talking up his leadership as a gun control advocate, or maybe it’s a call for comrades to continue the struggle when he steps aside.
For too long, our party has chosen to play it safe. To triangulate and poll-test our responses in fear of the NRA. And what do we have to show for it? More than a year after Parkland, seven years after Sandy Hook, and 20 years after Columbine, we have made no progress in the fight against gun violence.
So we’re left with a choice.
We can stick by what we’ve been doing — playing it safe, while we beg Mitch McConnell to take action on the floor of Congress. Or we can follow the lead of the students marching for their lives and for all of ours, who are demanding we do more to protect them.
We’ve made “no progress in the fight against gun violence” says Beto O’Rourke on the same day the FBI released its 2018 crime statistics showing the lowest violent crime rates in the United States since 1970, and a six percent decline in homicides compared to 2017. We’ve actually been making quite a bit of progress in the fight against violent crime for a couple of decades now, but Beto needs people to think things are getting worse, not better, if he’s going to use gun control as a springboard to the presidency.
Is the March For Our Lives “Peace Plan” likely to get widespread support from other Democrats? Maybe. Second-tier candidates like Kamala Harris, Corey Booker, and Beto O’Rourke have all expressed support for a national gun license, as the plan calls for, and I expect gun control advocates to push hard for a national “ban and buyback” of semi-automatic rifles in the coming months. Still, so far Elizabeth Warren, Joe Biden, and Bernie Sanders have not come out in favor of a compensated confiscation of so-called “assault weapons”, though Warren is in favor of a host of other gun control policies that would turn a right into a privilege, from gun licensing to restricting the sale of firearms to one-per-month and raising taxes on firearms and ammunition as well. If O’Rourke is hoping another candidate will pick up the gun control crusade if he ends his presidential run, Warren’s the most likely pick. It’s worth noting that Warren’s also the candidate with the most momentum at the moment.
Now, it’s possible that O’Rourke’s campaign reports stellar fundraising numbers for the 3rd quarter, he has a huge bounce in the polls as a result of unleashing a string of expletives on a late night TV show, and decides to stay in the race. Heck, it’s possible he has anemic fundraising and polling numbers and decides to stay in the race. It’s not like he has a job to go back to at the moment. But his piece in Teen Vogue has an air of “if I can’t go on, continue my work without me” to it, at least to my reading, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see O’Rourke put an end to his presidential run in the not-too-distant future. Unfortunately for gun owners, even without Mr. “Hell Yes We’re Taking Your Guns”, this will still be the most anti-2nd Amendment crop of candidates this nation has seen since… well, ever.