It might seem surprising that Briscoe Cain, the Texas state representative who proudly told Democratic presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke that his automatic rifle was “waiting for” him, considers himself ardently “pro-life,” but of course it’s not.
Hopping on Twitter last night during the Democratic debate, after O’Rourke had given a stirring answer about seizing high-capacity weapons from citizens if he was elected president, Cain decided to threaten his fellow Texan with his own automatic rifle — also calling him “Robert Francis,” deliberately eschewing O’Rourke’s Spanish nickname “Beto.” He then doubled down, saying O’Rourke was a “child” when the candidate responded, despite the overwhelming backlash the threat received. I guess that’s just what it’s like to be a Twitter cowboy. Cain later told CNN his words were “not a true threat at all,” but a reflection of the popular Texas saying, “Come and Take It.”
Per an O’Rourke spokesperson, Cain has been reported to the FBI for his violent speech, which you might think would fly in the face of the “sanctity of life”–type rhetoric he uses as an anti-choice legislator in the Texas legislature. Earlier this year, Cain was an architect of the draconian heartbeat bill, which failed in the Texas House in May, that sought to ban abortion at six weeks, before most women even realize they’re pregnant. When introducing it, he said in a statement, “When you have a heartbeat you have a life and we should honor that life at all cost.” So zealous is he in these views that, just this week, he took the bold stance of wanting to abolish the city of Austin, after it voted to provide $150,000 to help women retain access to abortion care.
And yet, this isn’t even the first time Cain has pulled a gun-related stunt targeting a political opponent: Last year, he was ejected from the Texas Democratic Party’s state convention for sneaking a handgun inside, as part of a “anti-liberal prank.”
The twin conservative principles of protecting both fetuses at the very moment of conception and the right to buy the kinds of guns that can (and have) murdered dozens of fully grown children in just a few minutes is a well-worn contradiction, a hypocrisy even older than the many Republican men who have been caught railing against abortion in public, then quietly paying for them in private. Restricting women’s autonomy over their own bodies is a cornerstone of the Republican Party’s ongoing national project, which is to consolidate power among the white and wealthy over the most vulnerable Americans.
If a Democratic candidate is going to beat Donald Trump, and help dismantle the GOP’s stronghold in Congress, they will need to be able to talk about abortion. While Cain was tweeting at O’Rourke, many of us watching the debates were wondering if the moderators were going to bring up the subject just once. They didn’t.