CARSON CITY, Nev. — In a Thursday, April 25, speech that covered topics from healthcare to immigration, gun violence and minimum wage, Beto O'Rourke called on the nation to return to the original idea that made America great: all men are created equal.
The 2020 Democratic presidential candidate told a crowd of nearly 100 packed into Gather restaurant on Carson Street the country needs not only political democracy but economic democracy and to eliminate what he called the “outright racism that defines so much of our national leadership.”
O'Rourke, who made a similar speech in Reno earlier Thursday, was in Carson City as part of his first campaign stop in Northern Nevada.
At the Carson City stump, he said Americans must, “confront the hateful rhetoric of our President” who demonizes immigrants, Muslims and others.
He said it's a shame in the world's richest most technologically advanced country, millions of Americans can't afford to see a doctor. He said people are dying of diabetes, the flu and curable cancers.
“We do not lack the resources,” he said. “We only lack the political will.”
He said universal healthcare means not only primary care but mental health treatment and reproductive care for women.
He said one example is his home state of Texas, where he said the largest provider of mental health treatment is the system of county jails.
O'Rourke said society ends up paying for healthcare when those without it go to the emergency room, costing far more than providing health coverage would cost.
“We would spend far less taking care of people than allowing them to die which is what we're doing now,” he said.
He said the criminal justice system, which incarcerates far more minorities than whites, is another example of the inequality in the country. He said too many are in prison for non-violent crimes including marijuana, which is legal in some form or another in more than half the states.
Climate change, he said, is a ticking clock that, in a decade, mankind won't be able to fix. He said all over the world, there's more and more devastation from wildfires and flooding. He said in Texas, one storm (Harvey) dropped 58 inches of rain.
On gun violence, he called for universal background checks and for the nation to stop selling military weapons to private citizens.
“A living minimum wage of $15 an hour is a fight we must win,” he said adding everyone should have paid family leave. He said in 2019, it's a crime women are paid about 80 percent of what men doing the same jobs get.
“We need the Equal Rights Amendment ratified by the states,” he said.
O'Rourke criticized the efforts by numerous states to make it more and more difficult for minorities, the young and the poor to vote. He pointed out in Texas, a person can use his or her concealed carry card as ID at the ballot box but can't use their University of Texas student ID.
He also said he opposes the idea of a citizenship question on the Census form not only because he believes it's racially motivated but because it would cost states with significant immigration populations federal dollars in a long list of programs that are population based.
O'Rourke tried to move from the House to the Senate in 2016, challenging Ted Cruz. Although Cruz won by a narrow margin, in that election O'Rourke won more votes than any Democrat in Texas history.