Monday, July 12, 2021

Crime, Crime, Crime and the Need for a Profound Reset Among Democrats

Three good pieces came out today on the need for Democrats to start running toward the issue of public safety instead of running away from it. The time for a reset is now.
Helaine Olen, "If progressives don’t start taking rising crime seriously, they risk getting mugged by reality" in the Post:
"Democrats, Republicans and independents all say there is a “major crisis” in violent crime, according to a poll released this week. This a serious matter. Crime is up throughout the United States. The murder rate surged nearly 20 percent in 2020, compared with 2019. Road-rage shootings have doubled nationally, claiming victims such as 6-year-old Aiden Leos in California in May.
But many among the progressive community don’t want to admit this. They seem to believe that acknowledging a covid-era crime wave will jeopardize hard-won gains fighting for bail and sentencing reform, attempts to reform the nation’s police forces, and the fight to address racial injustice. MSNBC host Joy Reid, for example, recently accused the media of riling people up over the issue, tweeting: “I’ve seen more TV stories about crime than the actual anecdotes from friends in [New York City] or other big cities bear out.” Others point out the levels are rising from numbers significantly lower than during the height of the crack epidemic in the 1980s, so why worry?
The denial needs to stop. The failure to engage and take on the issue of growing violence and lawbreaking now — no matter how unpleasant, distasteful or uncomfortable — will only harm the progressive agenda and potentially cause swing voters to pull the lever for Republican candidates."
Raymond La Raja, "The New York mayoral primary is a reminder that Black and Latino voters are pragmatic" in the Post:
"Primaries are about factional battles within parties, and Eric Adams won a major fight last week. The message from Adams’s win in New York City’s Democratic primary — echoing that of President Biden’s victory last fall — is that the Democratic Party is much more than the progressive left, even in the most progressive of cities. Adams won with the backing of outer-borough voters whose views are far removed from the culture war battles being waged on Twitter. His base of support, polling suggested, was not college-educated professionals but an ethnic and racial mosaic of older New Yorkers, many of whom lack college degrees.
This is not to say that Adams is the herald of a resurgent moderate wing in the party. Indeed, it is not even clear he is a moderate. He’s a self-described progressive who supports a temporary surtax on the rich to help those who suffered most during the pandemic, significantly expanded green infrastructure and allowing noncitizen immigrants to vote in municipal elections. And of course, when the counting of ranked-choice ballots was done, he had edged out his nearest rival, the technocratic former sanitation commissioner Kathryn Garcia, by a mere percentage point. Nonetheless, Adams reminded us that less educated voters who make up most of the party have different priorities than the progressive left — notably on crime, a major issue in the race.
A pre-election poll of likely New York Democratic primary voters showed that fear of crime weighed much more heavily on the minds of less-educated voters. When respondents were asked whether they agree with the statement “I feel safe from crime walking around NYC,” 72 percent of college-educated respondents agreed, compared with 53 percent of non-college-educated New Yorkers. The gap grew when respondents were asked about feeling safe from crime in the subways. Sixty-two percent of college grads felt safe, compared with only 39 percent of non-college grads. Non-college voters were also considerably more likely to favor adding more uniformed police officers in the subways."
Josh Kraushaar, "New polling shows Democrats alarmed about crime, too: By listening to activists more than their own party’s voters, Democrats have been complacent in dealing with rising violence in American cities." in National Journal:
"In our tribal times, it’s very rare to find a situation where voters of opposing parties agree on anything. Our society has become so politicized that even the national fight to defeat the pandemic has become a partisan food fight. So when you see a rare point of agreement between Republicans and Democrats, it’s worth taking notice.
That moment happened this week when the Democratic polling firm Navigator Research released its weekly survey, which asked voters what issues they rated as major crises. On most of the 14 issues tested, from the coronavirus pandemic to inflation, Republicans and Democrats differed sharply over their significance.... The one exception? Violent crime. For the first time, crime ranked ahead of the pandemic as the top issue for all voters. Even more surprisingly, it was an issue that voters of both parties ranked highly: 57 percent of Republicans called the issue a major crisis while 52 percent of Democrats concurred. Most significantly, 70 percent of African-American voters called violent crime a major crisis. The only other issue that drew bipartisan consensus was the spread of misinformation. Dealing with violent crime was the top issue for Republicans and independents, and the third-most important issue for Democrats.
The increased salience of crime, as the rate of homicides and other incidents of violence skyrocket across the country, is now a threat to Democrats’ congressional majorities in next year’s midterms. The party’s left-wing activists advanced “defunding the police” as a campaign slogan throughout much of 2020, without much pushback from party leaders. The moderates in the party, including Joe Biden, belatedly distanced themselves from the unpopular ideology, but didn’t condemn the movement itself. Too many lawmakers saw crime as a political vulnerability instead of a governing necessity....
One of the few Democratic politicians to recognize the urgent priority of getting crime under control was New York City mayoral nominee Eric Adams, who clinched his party’s nomination this week. He prevailed in every New York City borough except Manhattan, building a moderate, multiracial coalition that included working-class whites in Staten Island, as well as Black and Hispanic voters in the Bronx. He didn’t just fret about crime being a political problem, but focused on law and order as his central campaign message, while attacking his rivals for being too far to the left on the issue.
Democrats are still struggling to project a consistent message on dealing with violent crime, as leaders try to keep the party’s outspoken left-wing lawmakers on the same page as its most politically vulnerable members....
“It’s no secret that the “defund the police” stuff is not popular. There’s a mainstream way out of it. People want to feel safe. They want to see we’re addressing the problem. I still think people think we need police accountability, but they can’t hear just one side of that issue from us,” said Democratic pollster Nick Gourevitch, who conducted the Navigator polling."
Like I said, time for a reset.

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