Biden Tanks as Violent Crime Rises
The Washington Post, ever tooting the horn for President Biden and his pet project of more gun control, nonetheless apparently sees itself as forced to cover some of the uncomfortable truths about surging violent crime, what the public wants to do about it, and what the President says he wants to do about it. (What he’s actually done, so far as on-the-ground results show, is nothing).
Let me say at the outset that I too don’t want just more police. Far from it. In addition, we could use more proactive policing, more law-driven (as opposed to judge-driven and idiosyncratic) sentencing, a more sober look at early release policies, less interest in race and more in values and behavior, and more determined efforts to inculcate both respect for rules and marketable skills in inmates.
The Post article begins:
Concern over crime has reached the highest point in four years amid a spike in killings in big cities and an uptick in violent crime, according to a Washington Post-ABC News poll released Friday, and the percentage of Americans who say crime in the United States is “extremely serious” has reached its highest point in two decades.
I often hear from friends on the other side of this issue that the public is just hoodwinked, and constantly thinks crime is rising when actually it isn’t. I hope we won’t hear that this time, but don’t bet the house.
The poll also finds that a sizable majority believe racial discrimination still exists in the country and say they hope that communities can find solutions to crime beyond putting more police officers on American streets, such as providing economic opportunities to people in low-income communities.
A few years ago, I was testifying as a Republican-sponsored witness before the House Judiciary Committee when Rep. John Conyers was the Ranking Member. I took my usual stance, i.e., that what told the tale in the criminal justice system was behavior not race. Conyers asked me whether it was my view that there was no racism left in the system. I answered that anyone who thought there was no racism in the system was out of his mind. Somewhat taken aback, he replied that, given my previous writings, my response was surprisingly reasonable. In one of my quicker moments as a Congressional witness, I shot back, “I apologize, Congressman Conyers. Next time I promise to be worse.”
Conyers and the rest of the Committee cracked up. It was the best laugh I ever got up there.
A 59 percent majority of Americans believe crime is an “extremely” or “very” serious problem in the U.S., according to the Post-ABC poll, an increase from 51 percent in Gallup polling last fall and the highest level since 2017. The sentiment crosses party lines, though worries are higher among Republicans than Democrats. Anxiety about local crime is far lower but has also grown, with 17 percent saying crime in their area is extremely or very serious, up from 10 percent last fall.
Some activists who have pushed to eliminate systemic racism from the criminal justice system worry that hard-fought gains, and support for innovative approaches, will fade if anxious communities reach instead for what they see as the simplistic remedy of hiring more police.
Note the backhanded admission that hiring more police, even though “simplistic,” actually will help out. Perhaps, if the education of the Left continues, at some point they’ll replace “simplistic” with “obvious.”
President Biden laid out an anti-crime strategy in June, focusing on gun crime as part of an effort to stem the rise in homicides.
That’s because the guns fire themselves. Oddly, though, when we had hundreds of thousands more criminals incarcerated six or seven years ago, the guns seemed to fire themselves a great deal less often. What a puzzle!
Americans give Biden negative ratings for how he has handled the issue of crime, according to the poll, with 38 percent approving and 48 percent disapproving, while a sizable 14 percent offer no opinion.
The Post-ABC poll finds a 55 percent majority of Americans who say increasing funding for police departments would reduce violent crime, with views diverging sharply by party and race.
When the President of your Party is below 40 percent approval on an issue that hits home like none other, what do you think happens to the Party in the next election? Now of course crime might turn around by then, although I’ve been unable to find a single article predicting that it will.
Yet the public is divided on whether conditions are getting better or worse. Among those who perceive discrimination, 37 percent say the country is making progress while 27 percent say it is losing ground and 34 percent say it is staying the same.
White people who say discrimination exists are more than twice as likely as Black people to say the country is making progress on this issue — 41 percent compared with 18 percent.
Those racial differences persist when people are asked whether the country is making progress on how police interact with Black people. While 17 percent of Black Americans say the country is making progress, that figure is 33 percent for White Americans. A plurality of Black Americans, 45 percent, say the country is “staying the same.”
Note the wildly mistaken, if tacit, premise of the poll’s question on this topic. By any rational measure, the progress the police are making in dealing with blacks should be measured by the amount of protection from criminal violence the police are providing to black communities. Protection from criminals — not participation in bake sales or midnight basketball or genuflecting to Critical Race Theory — is by far the most important benefit policing provides. By that measure, we are doing much worse now, in the Biden Administration, than we did before its allies in “criminal justice reform,” and among progressive prosecutors, started to get serious traction over the last few years.
Administration officials have tried to show that Biden is taking concrete steps to reduce crime, even as the Democratic coalition that put him in the White House continues to pull in different directions. Some on the left want to dismantle traditional policing, while others believe slogans like “defund the police” are a big reason Democrats did not do better in 2020 and are concerned that spiking crime will only exacerbate the political fallout of such slogans.
Note that, according to the WaPo article, even the more moderate voices around Biden do not object to the fact of dismantling traditional policing, but only to the political outcroppings of admitting out loud that that’s what’s going on. On this state of affairs, it’s very hard to judge which is worse — the jaw-dropping cynicism or the lethal substantive results of reduced policing.