At a very festive event attended by hundreds of Democratic Party activists (including the Maricopa County and Arizona State Democratic Chairs) and social justice organizations (like Moms Demand Action and Outlaw Dirty Money) at The Churchill in downtown Phoenix, former Texas Representative Beto O’Rourke, like a prairie populist on the stump, laid out his governing priorities if he is elected the President of the United States in 2020.
With the crowd in attendance holding up Beto for America signs and chanting “Beto” as the candidate entered following the playing of The Who’s “Baba O’Riley,” O’ Rourke, after being introduced by Maricopa County Democratic Chair Steven Slugocki and County Supervisor Candidate Jevin Hodge, emphasized gun safety, immigration reform, climate change, and lifting up the forgotten middle and lower classes as his major priorities in running for the Presidency.
Trump gun rhetoric
Thanking the crowd (in both English and Spanish) for supporting the people of El Paso following the domestic terrorist attack over the summer, O’Rourke blamed Trump for creating the climate that motivated the El Paso shooter.
Chastizing the KKK-endorsed president for encouraging the rise in hate crimes over the last three years with his calling immigrants predators, monsters, and invaders, he reminded the audience that Hispanics commit fewer criminal acts than whites. He also relayed that El Paso is “one of the safest cities because we are a city of immigrants, asylum seekers, and refugees.”
To reduce the number of mass shootings in the county, Mr. O’ Rourke continued to call for:
- Universal Background Checks.
- Ending the sale of “weapons of war.”
- Requiring the buyback of AK 47’s.
With regard to immigration, he vowed that “we are going to rewrite immigration laws in our own image.”
He also promised that Dreamers would not “live in fear going forward in their true home country, the U.S.A.”
Using the example of El Paso breaking every daily heat record in the month of August, O’Rourke said climate change was caused by “our inaction and ignoring the facts,” not “Acts of God or Mother Nature.”
He called for:
- Freeing ourselves from fossil fuels.
- Investing in solar and geothermal energy sources.
- Creating the next wave of high paying jobs in the green energy sector.
Lifting Up the Forgotten Middle and Lower Classes
The former Texas Representative also outlined several social justice initiatives designed to lift up the forgotten middle and lower classes.
- Providing more monies for public schools and instructors.
- Fully funding special education programs and teachers.
- Ensuring the disabled are protected under the Voting Rights Act.
- Getting rid of private prisons.
- Legalizing marijuana and additional criminal justice review for those in jail for possession.
- Reducing maternal mortality rates.
- Convening a commission on potential reparations for slavery.
- Universal and affordable health care where everyone can get keep their private insurance.
- Housing assistance including making sure there are no more homeless “in the wealthiest country in the world.”
O’Rourke closed his comments by saying that “the young people are the driving force behind change…. and are leading the way.” He cited previous younger generations’ roles in World War Two and the Civil Rights Movement along with the current efforts in climate change and reducing gun violence to illustrate that point.
Questions and Answers
After presenting his case, O’Rourke took a few questions on health care, immigration and gun safety, and the forgotten parts of Middle America.
Interestingly, there were no questions on impeaching Mr. Trump.
The question on immigration and gun safety was asked by a member of the pro-Trump nativist Patriot Movement who framed it as an attack on legal immigrants and gun rights. O’Rourke showed great skills in first taking the question (The Patriot Movement members routinely attend events like these and cause mischief. Today’s event was no different and the O’Rourke people just shouted them down when they did not behave well.) He deftly responded that Trump attacked our immigration system by “taking kids from their parents and putting them in cages.” He then reminded everyone that Trump has spent the last four years stoking racist sentiments by attacking minorities and praising white supremacists.
Perhaps O’Rourke’s most moving words were in response to the last question on what he would do about the forgotten middle of the country. Saying “do not give up hope” and “let’s show up for everyone, deliver for everyone, and do not exclude everyone,” he told of how he has visited neglected regions of the nation like Lordstown in Ohio, Bland County in Virginia, and Silverton in Texas, saying that the people in these areas “do not want a handout.” They want opportunity and tools like rural broadband to look for jobs and make their lives better. They are also appreciative that people come to them and listen to their concerns and hopes.
After the event, he took pictures with people who waited on a line that curved around the block for a chance to meet him.
Mr. O’Rourke is a very charismatic and gifted political figure who knows how to woo a crowd.
Since the horrible events at El Paso, he has been visiting all parts of the country, conveying his vision for where he wants to take the nation and listening to the people at events similar to today.
His performance at the last Presidential Debate exceeded previous efforts.
A credible candidate for President who hails from Texas, people should review his positions on the issues and decide if he is the candidate that could best Donald Trump in the 2020 elections.