Telling voters to chill because crime was much worse in the 1990s isn’t going to cut it anywhere outside of Twitter’s activist bubble. Behavioral experts say our basis of comparison is the recent past, not far off events. Our societal standards for what’s an acceptable level of crime and violence is lower now than it was decades ago. And as someone who lived in New York City, D.C. and Los Angeles in those years, I will tell you that’s a very good thing.
Playing down rising crime rates also raises questions of whether the activist base is in touch with the reality of those it often claims to represent. In many of the cities with surging rates of violence, many of the shootings are concentrated in a few, predominantly minority neighborhoods. Black and Latino residents are more likely to be victims of police brutality than their White counterparts. Black people are more likely to say police funding should also cover social services, too. But they are also more worried about the violence.
Finally, saying crime was much worse in the 1990s is only true in some cities.