O’Rourke’s America

Beto O’Rourke speaks during the Democratic presidential candidates debate in Westerville, Ohio, October 15, 2019. (Shannon Stapleton/Reuters)Imagine one vast airport that you cannot leave.

With apologies to Margaret Atwood and a thousand other dystopian novelists, we do not have to theorize about what an American police state would look like, because we know what it looks like: the airport, that familiar totalitarian environment where Americans are disarmed, stripped of their privacy, divested of their freedom of speech, herded around like livestock, and bullied by bovine agents of “security” in a theatrical process that has an 85 percent failure rate because it isn’t designed as a security-screening protocol at all but as a jobs program for otherwise unemployable morons.

Now, when I hear the words “otherwise unemployable morons,” I think of Robert Francis O’Rourke and his sad little presidential campaign, which suffered a little setback on Tuesday night when the gentleman who advertises himself as “Beto” tried out some tough-guy shtick on Pete Buttigieg, who is, whatever else you can say about him, a veteran of the Afghanistan campaign, one who rightly pointed out that he doesn’t have to prove his “courage” to the idiot son of a well-connected El Paso political family who has done almost nothing with his life other than show himself a reasonably effective fundraiser in the family business.

O’Rourke is a cretin, and an ambitious cretin at that. And what are his ambitions?

Turning America into the airport.

O’Rourke proposes to gut the Bill of Rights — beginning with the First Amendment and the Second Amendment — to stick the federal snout into Americans’ bedrooms and churches, and anywhere else he detects the scent of nonconformity.

In spite of their scary reputation, so-called assault rifles are used in such a vanishingly small portion of violent crimes that the FBI doesn’t even bother keeping up with them. (All “long guns,” which is to say rifles of all kinds and shotguns, account for about 2 percent of the firearms used in violent crimes.) But O’Rourke has announced plans to dispatch armed federal agents to conduct door-to-door raids to seize such firearms, because they offend his personal sensibilities.

It is not as though this is part of some greater “tough on crime” posture. O’Rourke isn’t exactly a law-and-order man: He has no interest in enforcing our immigration laws, for instance. And he has proposed to enfranchise felons, too — not after they’ve served their time and completed their sentences, but while they are incarcerated. Which is to say: O’Rourke proposes to strip law-abiding Americans of their constitutional rights while extending new political rights to felons behind bars. Why? The most obvious answer is that gun owners tend to vote for Republicans and felons tend to support Democrats.

The “assault rifle” is a negligible factor in American public life, but it is a very powerful cultural totem. And just like the TSA, the O’Rourke agenda has nothing to do with security and everything to do with power: securing power, deploying power, enjoying power.

Similarly, O’Rourke has announced plans to use the tax code to punish churches and other organizations that have political and social opinions of which he does not approve. What about political parties? Those are tax-exempt nonprofits, too, and there is no limiting principle in O’Rourke’s position that would rationally exclude them from being similarly sanctioned. Why punish churches for teaching the articles of their faith? Because Robert Francis O’Rourke, in his infinite wisdom, does not approve of their articles of faith. What this amounts to is taking the illegal activities of the IRS during the Obama administration and making them official policy.

Nice.

You’ll notice a pattern emerging here. When O’Rourke encounters something that makes him uncomfortable, his instinct is always the same: Send federal agents to stick guns in somebody’s face until he gets his way. (And if you think the IRS is something other than a gun in your face, try declining to pay your taxes for a few years.)

O’Rourke’s politics — and the politics of the Left more generally — are increasingly totalitarian. “Totalitarian” is not only a scary-sounding adjective. It is a word that actually means something, and what it describes is a theory of government that recognizes no sphere of truly private life, no life outside the state — one that sees the scope of the state as total, hence the term.

Totalitarianism is in fashion on the Left. And so the Democrats have turned from such familiar proposals as health-care subsidies for the poor to the abolition of private health insurance, a measure endorsed by Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, among others. Democrats, no longer content to impose confiscatory taxes on income, now propose — here again, Sanders and Warren stand together — to seize Americans’ savings, confiscating their property rather than merely levying their income. If you don’t like that, you can organize a political campaign against it — maybe, if the Democrats will let you. But keep in mind that Democrats today also hold as an article of faith that the federal government should have the power to prohibit the distribution of videos critical of Democratic presidential candidates, which is what the Citizens United case was all about.

The borders may go unsecured and the felons may continue to run wild in the streets of this or that Democrat-controlled city, but in Robert Francis O’Rourke’s America, you — you, citizen — will do as you’re told. It will be as petty and imbecilic as a trip through security at JFK, with one important exception: The airport has an exit.

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