Here's How Democrats Retake the "Violent Crime" Narrative
As Republicans make gains in the public discourse with false messaging on violent crime, public safety and policing, Democrats should be the ones owning those issues
Since Republicans are not really a legitimate political party anymore - losing the right to call themselves such after January 6th and a series of violent mass killing events motivated by their intentional stochastic terrorism - the only way to revive their truly fascist political ambitions in 2022 is to put extra racially-singed emphasis on the “public safety” or “violent crime” conversation.
What that essentially entails, for the most part, is …
1) Scaring every White voter into believing that Democrats have “defunded the police” at a moment when mythical hordes of angry, violent, and uncontrollable Black and (“immigrant”) Brown people, especially Black men, are out to destroy them then,
2) … duping as many potential Black voters who would be the decisive edge in many critical U.S. House, U.S. Senate, gubernatorial and state legislative races into believing that Democrats are weak and inept on violent crime spikes in their communities and that, therefore, they have no choice but to either vote for the “tough-on-crime” branded Republican candidate or to not vote at all (either one works for white supremacist Republicans) while,
3) … convincing all American voters that the only one viable policy solution is to, simply, hire more police.
That line of thought and messaging could now be working as “crime” comes up as a Top 4 issue in recent polling such as the weekly Economist/YouGov tracking (although it does rank below inflation, jobs and the economy and healthcare) …
A Top 3 issue in the CBS/YouGov tracking poll, where it should be noted that here Democrats are viewed as slightly “weaker,” less “strong” and less “effective” than Republicans. More on that shortly …
A Top 4 in this Harvard/HarrisX poll …
Hence, Republicans appear to be controlling the crime narrative, giving fearful and gullible voters the impression that their candidates are the most capable at restoring public safety. Yet, that’s a complete fabrication. They are not.
Still: Corporate “journalists” are more than happy to push that lie and help since political messiness and chaos helps feed their bottom lines. Local news outlets, needing to pay their bills, also happily peddle in fear with non-stop coverage of local violent crime spikes. This presents a major problem for Democrats in their bid to maintain control of the Congress, and to somehow retake lost ground in gubernatorial and state legislative races. However, over the next several weeks, Democrats would be wise to stop putting all their campaigning chips into the abortion basket alone. They must aggressively retake the “public safety” narrative with very sharp and easy-to-digest messaging hits that can push voters to think differently about crime and public safety …
Democrats - with President Biden in lead - need to, first, publicly acknowledge that, yes, there is a violent crime problem. President Biden, in fact, might be wise to give a public speech on it and talk more smartly, not reactively, about how he and his team on Capitol Hill have been addressing it. Stop talking about historical trends or speaking in broader terms about how violent crime trends have gone downward in recent months, and just simply acknowlege that there is a crime spike and that people want to feel safe.
This is not “violent crime” - this is social and economic instability that’s spilled over and put our collective public safety at risk. Just acknowledge that we have a society that has gone under an enormous level of personal, social and economic stress through a major pandemic and period of downturn. When going through that much stress, we shouldn’t be surprised when this level of instability happens. “We didn’t start that downturn and instability, Republicans did. But we finally have a president and a Democratic-led Congress that’s actually managing the crisis and doing every thing they can to pull us through it.”
Republicans, with their previous president, created the unstable political, public health and economic crisis that sparked so much violent crime. “They put a president in power who mismanaged the pandemic. We didn’t. They have Republican governors and state legisaltures that block policies and funds from going to high crime cities that need them. We don’t. They attacked the Congress and continue to incite more political violence. We don’t do that, either. What we’ve been doing, despite all that, is get to work and manage all these crises as best we can and try to protect people with policies and funds. What are Republicans doing? Just sitting around complaining about us, being racist and inciting violence.”
9 out of the 10 states with the highest murder rates are Republican-controlled states. 8 out of the 10 states with the highest murder rates voted for Trump in 2020. More from Third Way on that …
Democrats keep trying to pass policy that actually decreases violent crime - but, Republicans keep getting in the way and blocking that. Whether it’s an attempt by Democrats to finally pass a working assault weapons ban in Congress or it’s multiple attempts by Democrats in a state legislature to pass a slew of laws that achieve better public safety in major cities, there are always Republicans completely obliterating those efforts with either a filibuster in Congress or by killing bills when they control the state legislature. It is absolutely astonishing that Democrats don’t make noise about this - if the shoe were on the other foot, Republicans would complain about this every damn day. In Pennsylvania, for example, a local Philadelphia judge ruled against the city implementing a gun ban at local parks and recreation centers because of a Republican law barring gun bans in any city in the state. Republicans actually banned the city’s ability to ban guns in playgrounds. Philadelphia is one of the most violent cities in the U.S. Yet, so-called “preemption laws” passed by Republicans who control the state legislature prevent the city from passing any gun-control measures of any kind, as the Philadelphia Inquirer reports …
Let’s talk about public safety strategies that actually work - not about “tough-on-crime” rants that just sound good in the moment. We don’t need “tough-on-crime” actions to be safe. We need smart public safety strategies that keep most crime from happening in the first place. Let’s have a national conversation about the public safety strategies that are proven to work and keep communities safe … rather than push already debunked and failed “tough-on-crime” models that are proven not to work. We know the public safety models that work because they actually exist in plain sight: communities with little to no violent crime problem are the ones that get all the investments in resources, that have stable infrastructure, that go to well-funded schools, that are fully employed and also have fully green, clean and amenity-filled neighborhoods. Police are, actually, supposed to simply play a supporting or back-up role to those common investments. Democrats, at this stage, need to list out all of the policies they have passed in a bold attempt to make those investments to stop crime from happening in the first place - and continue to remind people that Republicans have, at every turn, blocked those investments. Plus: didn’t we go all out on tough-on-crime back in the 1990s and realize, later, that it was a huge mistake?
Keep asking: Have Republicans proposed any policies to fight or to keep violent crime from happening in the first place? Of course not. It’s amazing that Democrats, the media and everyone else won’t ask what seems like an obvious question. The only policy prescription they have come up with is to, simply, hire more police. That’s it. But, fighting violent crime isn’t just about hiring more police - it’s 1) making the investments that ensure the crime keeps from happening in the first place and then 2) making sure the police we’ve got are actually working effectively. Makes no sense to just throw more police at the problem if police are solving fewer homicides: as The Atlantic notes, homicide clearance rates “declined from 90 percent in the 1960s to 50 percent today.” Here’s more on that at The Marshall Project …
Every civil society needs police. But, you want to make sure you get police that actually work and perform, correct?
Republicans keep saying they want to end violent crime. Ok, so why won’t they bring the assault weapons ban back? It’s astonishing that Democrats don’t brag, endlessly, about how they created an assault weapons ban in 1994 that lasted for ten years and worked by reducing mass shootings by 40 percent - until Republicans killed that law in 2004. It’s also astonishing that media won’t question Republicans about why they killed this rather effective ban on the most destructive assault weapons currenlty available to the public.
Republicans are not only weak on violent crime and terrorism, they create violent crime and terrorism. It’s very interesting that the CBS/YouGov tracking poll above shows the public perceiving Democrats as more “weak” and less “strong” than Republicans. This is very interesting considering Republicans looked extremely weak and ineffective on the day legions of racist MAGA insurrectionists attacked the U.S. Capitol - it was Democratic leaders in Congress such as House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and others who were doing everything they could to keep their entire Congress safe. What’s also interesting is that we never see Democrats staging violent attacks on the Congress or attempting to overthrow the government nor have we seen Democrats engaging in the type of stochastic terrorism that ends up in horrific mass shooting events. In fact, we keep seeing Democrats struggling to pass policy that prevents violence.
And lastly: No one ever “defunded the police.” It never happened. That’s a lie. In fact: police got funding increases. According to an analysis from ABC News that just dropped …
ABC Owned Television Stations examined the budgets of more than 100 cities and counties and found that 83% are spending at least 2% more on police in 2022 than in 2019.
Of the 109 budgets analyzed, only eight agencies cut police funds by more than 2%, while 91 agencies increased law enforcement funding by at least 2%.
In 49 cities or counties, police funding has increased by more than 10%.
ABC's analysis of police budget data shows police spending has increased in some of the very cities frequently cited by conservative politicians and pundits as places where Democrats' defunding has fueled violent crime waves.
The Los Angeles Police Department's budget is up by 9.4% since 2019. San Francisco's police budget is up by 4% and Philadelphia's is up by 3%.
In Chicago, police spending is up 15%, representing almost a quarter billion dollars in new police spending since 2019.
In Houston, where the homicide rate nearly doubled in both 2020 and 2021 before starting to subside this year, local government officials have increased police spending by nearly 9% -- almost $80 million -- from 2019 to 2022.