In the ongoing battle between Republicans and Democrats over who can scare away regular Americans more, the Democrats are going all in with their policies and rhetoric on violent crime. Left-wing Democrats have scared the hell out of regular Americans with their “defund the police” rhetoric and even more with actual cuts to funding for many big-city police departments and their refusal to prosecute many crimes.
After a multidecade decline, crime rates are way up. It shouldn’t surprise anyone that voters are not happy about this. After months of largely ignoring the problem, President Joe Biden realized he had to address it. In essence, Biden’s response pins the entire violent crime rise on access to guns. His solutions focus almost exclusively on gun control. We should debate gun policies, but pretending gun access explains the rising crime rate is preposterous on its face. This is not going to end well for Democrats.
It’s hard to fathom now, but former President Bill Clinton, the greatest Democratic politician in recent memory, won over much of middle America in part with his “tough on crime” agenda. Putting 100,000 new cops on the street was a singular early Clinton administration achievement. Imagine today’s Democratic Party taking on that cause? Clinton’s crime policies blunted the winning Republican argument that Democrats were soft on crime. And it worked. Crime rates dropped to historically low levels, even while gun ownership continued to skyrocket.
The radical wing of the Democratic Party has undone all this political and substantive progress with their wacky “defund the police” movement. Even with the corporate media pulling as hard as they can to help sell the cause, there is no possibility of convincing the average American voter that defunding the police is anything but crazy.
This does not mean, of course, that there aren’t police reforms we should be debating. Videos of horrendous actions by individual officers drive home the point that there are bad cops out there. But bad apples aside, people know that police have tough jobs that most of us would not want to do. People also know that vilifying police as a class, getting rid of police, sharply reducing police funding and refusing to enforce basic laws are all going to cause a spike in crime. Yet these are precisely the policies and rhetoric coming out of the left wing of the Democratic Party. And surprise, crime rates are skyrocketing.
We had much higher crime rates in the 1960s and 1970s. During this period many of our major cities were flat-out dangerous, especially at night. With the bipartisan reform efforts of the 1980s and 1990s, that all went away. The result was huge investment and population growth. The radical left’s crime agenda puts all this at risk.
The solution to rising crime is not complicated. It’s the same formula that worked for Clinton: Enforce the law; fund enough police; and support honest police work. Those commonsense concepts are no longer acceptable to the radical left. Frontline police are the ones squeezed in this new environment. Their jobs are too dangerous, and their pay is too low, to put up with the demonization they are now facing. In Portland, Oregon, the epicenter of American crazy, the entire riot squad just resigned en masse after enduring a year of abuse from the city’s political leadership. Without support from our political leaders, this is what we can continue to expect.
Biden knows all this, but he doesn’t have the political will to take on the crazies in his own party, starting with his vice president. Kamala Harris asked her supporters to donate to the Minnesota Freedom Fund to provide bail money for those arrested in the George Floyd protests. Subsequent reporting by the Daily Caller showed that the Minnesota Freedom Fund bails out violent criminals and even serial domestic abusers. Instead of reversing her support for this radical cause, Harris has left her fundraising plea up for over a year now.
The left’s “defund the police” insanity is premised on racial injustice. Interestingly, though, members of affected minority communities do not share the generally wealthier and whiter radicals’ zeal to vilify and undercut law enforcement. Law-abiding people of all races who live in higher-crime neighborhoods want a strong police presence. Biden could have taken up their cause and pushed back on his party’s ascendant radical fringe. That sort of political courage would have been rewarded.
Pretending our crime spike is all about gun access, as the president is now doing, is the opposite of political leadership. Lawful gun ownership and sales do not lead to higher crime rates. Americans have had access to guns for decades. None of that changed recently. What changed is a failure in many cities to support the police and enforce the law.
The president missed a huge opportunity to show leadership and occupy the political center with his crime rollout this week. If Democrats lose large numbers of seats in 2022 and 2024, his punting on the crime issue will be a big reason why.
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