by Seth Moskowitz
Monday, 17
October 2022
Debate
07:00

The Democrats are finally talking about crime

But is it too late?
by Seth Moskowitz
Credit: Getty

With the midterms less than a month away, Republicans have begun hammering Democrats for their positions on crime and public safety. The specifics of the attack ads vary, but they typically involve grainy black-and-white footage, ominous music, and claims that Democrat X wants to defund the police or set criminals free. Whatever the particulars, the general takeaway from these ads is always the same: Democrats are soft on crime and don’t support police.    

Although many of these attacks are unfair — supporting parole for prisoners, for instance, is more nuanced than simply “freeing convicted murderers,” as one ad put it — they are nevertheless having their desired effect. In key Senate and House races, polling shows that the focus on crime by Republicans has had a tangible impact on voters, potentially enough to swing the outcome of a few races. Ultimately, it seems, voters find it convincing that Democrats are anti-police and that they don’t have a realistic agenda to address rising crime.


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That voters are buying this shouldn’t be a surprise, given the way that the Left has talked about crime and law enforcement for much of the last two and a half years. The dominant message has been some combination of: ‘actually, crime data isn’t as bad as it seems, so stop all the hand-wringing; in reality, concern about crime is just thinly veiled “class anxiety” or “racist dog whistles”; rather than focus on locking people up, let’s focus on “root causes” of crime like guns; and abolish the police!

But the terrible reality is that violent crime was rising at a devastating pace throughout 2020 and 2021, as Democrats were whistling past the graveyard. Noticeably absent from the Left was a recognition of the rise in violence, an acknowledgment of the havoc it was wreaking on families and neighbourhoods, or an indication that they had a practical plan to address it. The disconnect between the Democratic response and the reality of rising crime gave Republicans a foothold on the issue, which they are now shrewdly using in their midterm pitch to voters.

Perhaps the feeble Democratic response was inevitable once the Left declared any discussion of crime to be a bigoted Republican talking point. But, because they ignored the problem for so long, they risk being punished by voters next month. This is why Democrats are now scrambling to tell voters that they are, in fact, the tough-on-crime party. In addition, they no longer want to defund the police, and actually would like to increase police budgets.

Unfortunately for Democrats, crime isn’t the only problem that they are clumsily trying to address at the eleventh hour. For much of 2020 and 2021, it was effectively forbidden to discuss inflation in Democratic circles. With this taboo in place, the party failed to craft effective policy or campaign messaging to address the problem. Now, at the last minute, they’re racing to backtrack and convince midterm voters that they are the party of fiscal responsibility and are working hard to fix inflation.

It remains to be seen if these last-minute Hail Marys on crime and inflation will be able to sway voters in time for the midterms. But, no matter the outcome of those elections, one lesson should now be indisputable: treating fundamental political issues as out of bounds for debate is unwise and short-sighted. Such taboos hurt the country by making effective public policy unlikely, and they hurt political parties by making good campaign messaging impossible.

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AC Harper
AC Harper
1 month ago

You can make a reasonable argument that increasing crime and inflation has affected the poor far more than the Elite. Denying reports of increasing crime and inflation is not effective – poor people interpret this as their concerns are not as important as those of the Elite.
Huh. Who knew that the concerns of the ‘deplorables’ would matter?

Aaron James
Aaron James
1 month ago
Reply to  AC Harper

The Left has been intentionally increasing crime for years! Like they used the plandemic to introduce ‘Vaccine Passports’ and every kind of control – the increase in crime is so they can justify electronically filming and facial recognizing and tracking everyone, all the time, and next – the CBDC, and so every transaction.

To create their Social Credit Score’ they have to frighten the sheep into joining in their own control.

polidori redux
polidori redux
1 month ago

“Republicans a foothold on the issue, which they are now shrewdly using in their midterm pitch to voters.”
Shrewdly using? More like scoring an open goal.

N Forster
N Forster
1 month ago
Reply to  polidori redux

Yep, I noticed the same sentence. You could also replace the word “shrewdly” with “quite rightly”.

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago

And Democrats think the Wade decision will influence women voters, but it doesn’t. That’s no surprise when you consider their woke position on trans.

‘You can’t have an abortion’
versus
‘You no longer exist as a woman’.
Neither are great positions, but the latter is far worse.

I also read a pretty shocking column too in the Washington Post a few days ago, link below, about white voters supporting Republican. Check it out – it’s appalling. They’ve gone back to labelling and smearing people, instead of listening to their views.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/2022/10/13/america-has-white-voter-problem/

Doug Gamble
Doug Gamble
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Thx Ian that was an interesting if strained view about Whiteness and Republicans
There are a lot of us independents who dislike much in both parties and have gone Rep then Dem only to be reminded what we miss in both parties that used to exist

Tom Watson
Tom Watson
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Gone back to? I wasn’t aware they’d ever stopped.
Roe v Wade being overturned seems like an ideal test case for competing theories of politics – “don’t antagonise moderates” vs “voters prefer the strong horse.” It might be something we have to wait for until after the US midterms, but do you know if anyone’s yet found an appreciable ‘Dobbs effect’ (in either direction) in American polling data, or notably failed to find one amidst everything else that’s going on?

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Tom Watson

Yeah I was being generous with ‘gone back to’ – some Democrats have tried to connect with the middle but it’s not been a big effort, and articles like the WaPo link just make you realise the anti white bigotry (deplorables) is still prevalent. Try reading the reader comments – they really are crazy, but funny too.

Doug Pingel
Doug Pingel
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Are they saying the same about blacks, latinos, etc who have decided to become deplorables? Looking from afar it appeared that a lot of women of an age {mothers/grandmothers) of all ethnic groups didn’t want the police defunded even during the initial blm riots.

Alan Gore
Alan Gore
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

I’m a Republican, but I also think that the abortion issue will prevent us from gaining the seats and posts we thought we were going to harvest from the concern over crime and inflation. Our problem is not the Dobbs decision itself, but the Talibanic triumphalism we got from our evangelicals in its wake.
Polls keep showing that what the general public wants from abortion law is a ratification of the idea that the ethics of a given abortion depend on how far along the pregnancy is, weighed against the reason for aborting. But when people hear strident calls for an absolute ban, and talk of eliminating morning-after pills and even contraception, they are going to hold their noses and vote for Democrats. Nobody wants to find their state being the first to start forcing minor rape victims to bear the hellspawn of violent criminals. And no, fobbing such babies off on unsuspecting adoptive families is not a solution.

Last edited 1 month ago by Alan Gore
Lindsay Snoman
Lindsay Snoman
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Gore

“And no, fobbing such babies off on unsuspecting adoptive families is not a solution.” Nicolas Cruz is another poster child for the justification of abortion given his birth mothers pregnancy diet of alcohol and drugs, no amount of good parenting from the adoptive parents could undo that mess!

Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Alan Gore

I thought the same Alan – triumphalism is usually a bad look – but people seem to be taking a wider perspective, or deciding they don’t care as they can’t imagine getting themselves into that situation.

But I’d still say telling all young girls at school that they no longer have gender based rights, as is happening now, is much scarier than the very low statistical risk of getting raped and pregnant.

Lindsay Snoman
Lindsay Snoman
1 month ago
Reply to  Ian Stewart

Is it because I’m British that I have never read the word white so many times in one (linked)article.

Last edited 1 month ago by Lindsay Snoman
Ian Stewart
Ian Stewart
1 month ago
Reply to  Lindsay Snoman

Yup. Can you imagine the howls of protest if they rewrote that article from the perspective of political groups that are supported by minorities?

Allison Barrows
Allison Barrows
1 month ago

There is nothing nuanced” about no and low bail policies that are freeing violent criminals just hours after their heinous atrocities (too many examples to cite). One need only look at the police reports in cities run by Democrats to see what’s being done, and why. The worst of it is knowing that criminal organizations like BLM and Antifa are being funded by foreign actors who benefit from destabilizing the United States. And Soros-supported prosecutors are happy to doing their bidding. Democrats brought destruction to our nation. They always have, and must be stopped.

John Murray
John Murray
1 month ago

I’d actually dispute they have wanted to address guns as a root cause of crime at all. They have been very big on new restraints imposed on legal gun ownership. The Left has been advocating for not prosecuting illegal gun carrying in various places, since there is a “disparity” in the individuals who get prosecuted (e.g. https://susanreynolds.substack.com/p/over-75-of-felony-firearms-cases). Hence illegal gun carrying has increased and those communities have seen the worst increase in violent crime.

Daniel Lee
Daniel Lee
1 month ago

True, but ads only go so far, especially in this largely streaming service/ad-free environment. And you can’t discount the corrupt media’s eager willingness to paint the Dems in the rosiest possible colors and the GOP as the functional equivalent of Mordor’s army of Orcs, with you-know-who as Sauron.

Gary Cruse
Gary Cruse
1 month ago
Reply to  Daniel Lee

I have come to believe that Democrats want to wield the levers of power to bring America to her knees.
Republicans want to be liked.

Vince B
Vince B
1 month ago

Liberals are so certain, because of near hegemonic control of the media, academia, public education, etc., and because of fellow liberals’ terror of being excommunicated from the land of the Enlightened, that they can effectively gaslight Americans on issues such as crime. But reality always breaks through.

James Stangl
James Stangl
1 month ago

In my corner of the NW USA, crime is mushrooming, both in terms of property crimes and violent crime, and inflation is taking a big bite out of everyone’s pay. Yet the Dems are running on the mono-issue of “women’s rights (abortion) in danger!!” Which may work for the already blue urban enclaves but completely ignores these larger issues. And also conveniently ignores the fact that WA, OR, and CA have abortion access enshrined in their state laws. So it’s really unaffected by Dobbs.

The fact that Patty Murray is likely in a dead heat will her GOP challenger, and that even the NY Times /Sienna poll shows a huge swing by independent women towards the GOP suggests that the Democrats are barking up the wrong tree.

Gary Cruse
Gary Cruse
1 month ago

Is it too late? Crime doesn’t have a tipping point. A country doesn’t suddenly go Yemen. It’s never too late for vigilantism, as not even the last resort, to clean up the mess George Soros envisions.