Old and busted: Defund the police! New hotness: Law and order! Two years after embracing the radical demands of progressives to curtail policing and paint law enforcement as a societal ill, Democrats suffer from a fully realized case of buyer’s remorse, the New York Times reports.
That change has come not from any recognition by the radicals of failure, but because voters in urban areas have grown sick and tired of the crime wave that has erupted in the wake of the police retreat Democrats have forced in the cities. As the NYT’s Alexander Burns notes, the backlash comes from the demographics to which Democratic leadership had attempted to pander by embracing “defund the police” in the first place:
In Democratic strongholds like Maryland, a rise in violent crime has pushed the party’s candidates to address the issue of public safety in newly urgent terms. Even before the recent mass shootings in Buffalo and Uvalde, Texas, reignited the debate over gun control, day-to-day gun crimes and other acts of violence were rattling the American electorate.
Long seen as a political wedge for Republicans to use against Democrats, crime is increasingly a subject of concern within the Democratic Party and the big cities that make up much of its political base.
And from Baltimore and Atlanta in the East to San Francisco and Seattle in the West, the candidates and elected officials pushing the party to address crime more aggressively are largely people of color. Candidates are motivated not mainly by fear of Republican attacks, but rather by mounting outcry from the Black, Hispanic and Asian American communities bearing the brunt of a national crime wave.
There’s no end to irony in that. The push to defund and even in some cases disband police departments came from suddenly influential Black Lives Matter activists in the midst of the George Floyd riots almost exactly two years ago. Democrats latched onto the rage of radicals in the cities and hoped to use it to force long-desired changes in policing and social policies, and in large part they succeeded. In getting the changes, that is, not in making those policies work.
As Burns writes, “alarming trends have changed the political conversation.” In places like Seattle and New York City, suddenly every Democrat wants more police on the street, but the transformation goes beyond that. In Maryland, Democrats are beginning to talk about a particular change in direction that goes beyond the Floyd riots and to the heart of a pet Democratic project — installing prosecutors who don’t prosecute. Marilyn Mosby was one of the beneficiaries of the progressive-DA push, and even apart from accusations of corruption, she’s getting challenged for dereliction of duty against crime:
In Baltimore, the incumbent state’s attorney, Marilyn Mosby, is facing a threat in the Democratic primary from multiple candidates who are challenging her record of responding to violent crime there. She is also vulnerable because she is under a federal indictment on charges of perjury and financial misconduct.
Her most prominent challenger, Thiru Vignarajah, a former deputy attorney general of Maryland, has accused Ms. Mosby of failing to develop complex cases against violent offenders and of sending a permissive signal to criminals by announcing she would no longer prosecute certain misdemeanors like drug possession and trespassing.
“I think traditional politicians have just misread what the people in these disinvested communities want,” Mr. Vignarajah said. “They don’t want to unleash the police to do whatever they want, but they also don’t want you to tell criminals there are no consequences for their conduct.”
The effort to install radical “reformists” like Mosby as district attorneys and equivalent offices long preceded the Floyd riots, and Democrats went all-in on candidates like Mosby, Chesa Boudin, George Gascón, Kim Foxx, and others. For that matter, so did the media, which raced to embrace these radicals as the New Hope Against Systemic Racism Or Something. Not only did media outlets fail to consider the consequences of absent prosecutors, at least some of them still haven’t woken up to it.
Hence we got that ridiculous Politico screed this week that framed recalls of Boudin and Gascón as plotted by Republicans, as though GOP voters have any real impact in San Francisco and Los Angeles municipal elections. Burns gets much closer to the truth for the New York Times. Democrat voters in urban areas have had enough of Democrat policies on crime, and want to get rid of the people who don’t take it seriously.
Make no mistake about this, either. Many of these voters will remain sympathetic to the general arguments about systemic racism; this won’t produce a sudden conversion of these voters to the GOP in a transformational way, at least not in a single cycle. But the longer that Democrats and their radical-progressive “reformers” force these voters to live in the squalor of high-crime environments while doing nothing to keep them safe, the more that these voters will make their ballot choices based on their daily lived experiences in unsafe cities where Democrats care more about perpetrators than victims.
Democratic leadership appears to have woken up to that risk. Perhaps the media, and especially Politico, should start waking up to it as well.