There is an argument for just letting those experiments play out. After all, we are told elections have consequences. Well, the people in those cities voted for weak Democratic mayors and city council members. Maybe if they experience the consequences of incompetent Democratic leadership, they’ll do what New Yorkers did in the 1990s and vote in tough-on-crime Republicans to restore law and order.
Or they can move. As Milton Friedman explained in “Capitalism and Freedom,” the beauty of our system of dispersed power is that, “if I do not like what my local community does … I can move to another local community. … If I do not like what my state does, I can move to another. [But] if I do not like what Washington imposes, I have few alternatives in this world of jealous nations.” In recent years, growing numbers of Americans quit high-tax blue states such as California for low-tax red states like Texas. If disastrous fiscal policies can spark this kind of migration, maybe disastrous policing policies will do the same.
Of course, the counterargument is: What about the people in Portland, Seattle and other cities where violence is out of hand who did not vote for feckless Democrats? Why should they be subjected to violence? Moreover, although wealthier residents may be able to pick up and leave, the poorer citizens of these cities who depend on social assistance and public housing don’t have the resources to do so. And what about small business owners who have poured their life savings into enterprises that have been looted and vandalized? If they pick up and leave, they lose everything.