How police hold our democracy hostage.
Until the end of time, Republicans will accuse Democrats of trying to defund the police. In response, Democrats will throw more money at the police and our Serious Thinkers will blame a movement that never took off for virtually every Democratic loss—even though ahead of the midterms, crime was not a deciding factor for most voters, at least not as much as inflation, abortion, and even gun policy among liberals.
Despite the public’s relative disinterest in “public safety” compared to other issues, alleged voter perceptions about crime shaped multiple political campaigns and the editorial agenda of every media outlet from the Atlantic to the National Review and Fox News to CNN. And it wasn’t just before the midterms. Over the summer the left-wing Young Turks aired a segment in which Ana Kasparian yelled at viewers about how criminal reform has gone off the rails because one homeless guy hit a woman on the head.
It’s weird though, like one huge projection. It’s not that the public is petrified of crime every waking hour. Most people are more likely to be victimized by our healthcare system and concerned about rising gas prices than a guy with a ski mask and a gun.
The people who have cause to be scared of violent crime are poor people of color. And virtually no politicians and very few media stars care about the concerns of poor people of color—things like poverty and food desserts and health care costs and mass incarceration and bad schools—except for when it comes to crime. Suddenly, everyone in politics and media is an intrepid fighter for the downtrodden.
Anyway, rather than a general public petrified of crime, it’s politicians who are petrified. And they’re scared of the police. Mainstream media take the lead from the most powerful actors. Also they themselves are eternally petrified of being accused of anti-right wing bias.
So the question is never: “Is crime really going up and is it going up because of Democrats?” But rather: “Republicans are trying to paint Democrats as soft-on-crime. Will it work?”
It’s not, “Wow, so many reform DA’s are getting elected.” It’s, “Chesa Boudin’s recall signals the end of the progressive prosecutor movement.”
It’s, “How do we balance safety and justice [with a strong preference for safety]” Not, “Wait a minute, does shuffling young people who commit minor or even serious crimes into jail and prison make us safer? (No! Most defendants cycle in and out of jail/prison and the community and our jails and prisons are trauma factories!)
And so, Republicans accuse Democrats of trying to defund the police. Democrats throw more money at the police and our Serious Thinkers blame criminal justice reform for every Democratic loss.
Why are politicians afraid of the cops? Well, look at what happens when you cross the cops. Former San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin never called for defunding the police. But, the National Review’s got his number:
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