What President Biden And The Dems Could Learn From Beto O’Rourke

Beto O'Rourke took his fight directly to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, telling him during a press conference on the Uvalde school shooting, "This is on you!"
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke interrupts Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a press conference on the Uvalde school shooting on May 25, 2022.
Democratic gubernatorial candidate Beto O'Rourke interrupts Texas Gov. Greg Abbott during a press conference on the Uvalde school shooting on May 25, 2022.
ALLISON DINNER via Getty Images

Given that their ideology is largely rooted in maximum profit and the oppression of others, I don’t think Republicans are actually capable of shame. But that doesn’t mean Democrats shouldn’t at least try to make them feel bad for the way they are — least of all when it involves policy positions that help facilitate the mass murdering of elementary school children.

Those that stand in the way of less pain and suffering don’t deserve civility; they deserve to be confronted with the anger their callousness calls for.

Texas gubernatorial candidate Beto O’Rourke recently offered a glimpse into how motivating righteous indignation can be while confronting Gov. Greg Abbott at a press conference related to the mass shooting at Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, Texas.

“This is on you,” O’Rourke reportedly yelled after moving to the third row of Uvalde High School’s auditorium about 15 minutes after the governor began speaking to the media alongside other state and local leaders onstage.

After Abbott concluded his comments, O’Rourke continued.

“You are doing nothing,” O’Rourke added. “You are offering up nothing. You said this was not predictable. This was totally predictable when you choose not to do anything.”

After O’Rourke was eventually escorted out of the room, he turned back to address Abbott again.

“This is on you until you choose to do something different,” O’Rourke explained. “This will continue to happen. Somebody needs to stand up for the children of this state or they will continue to be killed just like they were killed in Uvalde yesterday.”

This earned O’Rourke criticism from the likes of Sen. Ted Cruz, who described O’Rourke’s passionate remarks as a “stunt,” and Uvalde Mayor Don McLaughlin, who said, “I can’t believe that you’re a sick son of a bitch that would come to a deal like this to make a political issue.”

Cruz is a pathetic man willing to debase himself in pursuit of his unattainable goal of the presidency.

As for McLaughlin, he sounds rather dense complaining about politics being invoked to discuss a societal ill rooted in bad political policy. And he is presently defending a police department and police chief that, with each passing news cycle, look to be involved in some kind of cover-up over their failures. That’s more than enough reason to set his opinions on fire in your mind.

Look at the people of Uvalde themselves, who appear to be just as angry as Beto.

On Sunday, Abbott was booed during a Sunday visit to the Uvalde memorial.

Of course he was. This is the man responsible for an 18-year-old being able to legally purchase an AR-15 to begin with. Moreover, this is not his first mass shooting as governor. Instead of passing meaningful gun safety laws after the El Paso massacre, Abbott opted instead to form a “domestic terror” task force.

How many mass shootings will it take for elected officials to stop pretending the cops will stop this problem?

“If given the chance, Abbott and Republicans in Congress will simply delay action until we collectively switch to some other national issue. They have to be confronted.”

Even now, Abbott won’t call for a special legislative session in light of the shooting. On Wednesday, he urged the Texas Legislature to form special committees to make legislative recommendations in response to the Uvalde school shooting. Abbott told his fellow Republicans that the state “must reassess the twin issues of school safety and mass violence.”

They already know what to do. They just don’t want to do it. This is why Beto O’Rourke confronted Abbott the way we did. If given the chance, Abbott and Republicans in Congress will simply delay action until we collectively switch to some other national issue. They have to be confronted.

It’s why I appreciate O’Rourke and others like Texas Democratic state Sen. Roland Gutierrez, who represents Uvalde and told CNN this week: “If I do nothing for the rest of my career but yell at Greg Abbott and others that are not willing to listen, then that’s what I’m going to do. We must have change.”

Now, juxtapose their comments with those of President Joe Biden on Monday when speaking about gun control negotiations. “McConnell is a rational Republican,” Biden claimed. “Cornyn is as well.”

I understand that Biden is of a particular era in which politicians got along so well that he could even compliment a segregationist senator, but it is one that is bygone. It is beyond time for Biden to adjust.

Mitch McConnell, John Cornyn and the rest of those Republicans in the Senate don’t give a damn about how many people die from gun violence. If they truly did, laws would have changed by now.

Any rational person would recognize this and convey to voters their willingness to sacrifice lies in the pursuit of power accordingly.

President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden leave Sacred Heart Catholic Church after attending mass in Uvalde, Texas, on May 29, 2022.
President Joe Biden and first lady Jill Biden leave Sacred Heart Catholic Church after attending mass in Uvalde, Texas, on May 29, 2022.
MANDEL NGAN via Getty Images

I wish Biden had mirrored Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s anger, which she expressed in a new interview with The Cut.

“It’s also been 10 years since the tragedy in Sandy Hook, when politicians committed to passing sensible gun legislation,” Warren said. “And guns are now the leading cause of death for young people. How do our elected officials not have a plan?

This mirrors the anger Warren expressed after the Supreme Court leak that previewed a looming decision to overturn Roe v. Wade — taking to the streets with protesters.

“I am angry,” Warren shouted over a megaphone. “We are not going back!”

Warren has a right to be angry. As do the millions of women and men that will be impacted once abortion rights are restricted by the court. Yet Biden himself only released a statement that day.

True enough, while at the Uvalde memorial, Biden said “we will” in response to a crowd screaming “do something.” But listen to the urgency in the voices of the victims of bad policy and compare it to the lack of urgency you hear from most of the politicians responsible for changing it.

I’m not sure if the Uvalde school shooting will change the gubernatorial race in Texas, but if nothing else, at least O’Rourke can say that his campaign genuinely fought for the change needed in the state. That actually motivates people to care. Complimenting the people who are helping more Americans die in order to get more money from the gun lobby does not.

According to NBC News, Biden is “rattled by his sinking approval ratings and is looking to regain voters’ confidence that he can provide the sure-handed leadership he promised during the campaign.”

If the president wants to regain voters’ confidence and keep control of Congress, he needs to not solely rely on being the mourner-in-chief or the great statesman. You can’t go anywhere in America and not fear being shot to death. As president, you need to do something about it, or at the bare minimum, at least sound like you’re really trying.