Although it’s been a tenet of the social justice movement for decades, Democratic Socialists have recently renewed their call to abolish prisons. It’s part of a counterintuitive and un-American agenda that has Republicans licking their chops in anticipation of the midterms, and Democrat hopes of a Blue Wave receding like the expended fifteen minutes of Stormy Daniels’ claim on the Donald Trump presidency.
Sharing billing on the Democratic Socialist marquee with Marxist wealth redistribution schemes and punitive race reparations proposals is the idea that the U.S. correctional system in its current iteration is racist, classist, and capitalist in the most egregious sense of the word.
On a recent episode of Tucker Carlson Tonight, philosopher, social activist, and author Cornel West, who serves as honorary chair of the Democratic Socialists of America, intimated that right-wing media is spinning the particulars and thereby misinforming the public about what the call to end the extant U.S. system of crime and punishment is really all about.
During part of the debate, West, a noted public intellectual with a Ph.D. from Princeton, made clear that he realizes how insane the notion of doing away with mass incarceration sounds after Carlson framed the debate in terms of murderers, drug dealers, rapists et al. set free to prey upon the law-abiding citizenry.
The show clock was ticking, but West managed to allude to a system that would implement ideologically progressive interventionist and rehabilitative programs aimed at achieving transformational results. Though West didn’t mention it, such a system would doubtless come with a never-ending and never-enough flow of increased government spending.
In other words, criminals would not be running rampant through society. They would still be put away, somewhere, and for some duration. But it’s probably safe to assume that a Democratic Socialist penitentiary would be a lot different from a contemporary San Quentin or Leavenworth.
The problem is that, like the blanket abolishment of prisons that more radical Democratic Socialists seem to be calling for, West’s liberal equivocation of Tucker’s scary scenario is not what Americans besieged with criminal aliens, drug kingpins, human traffickers, foreign and domestic terrorists, identity thieves, gang-bangers and mass shooters want to hear.
And the very last thing they’re interested in hearing about or experimenting with is a social sciences-based system that shields perpetrators with sanctuary lawlessness and ensures judicial outcomes sieved through permutations of class, race, and ethnic grievances.
For example, most law-abiding citizens would rather not see criminal illegals like Kate Steinle’s killer, Jose Zarate (acquitted and deported), in a tough love encounter group, getting in touch with his feelings like one of the mentally ill patients in Ken Kesey’s One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. In Zarate’s case, twenty years with no parole would have been more like it.
For terrorists foreign and domestic, a morally relative rehabilitation program is not exactly what the general populace has in mind. Gitmo works for nonlethal foreign enemy combatants, and when blood is shed and fatalities are caused by homegrown terror on U.S. soil, a swift and sure death sentence for foreigners and domestics should be waiting in the wings.
For the thug element that makes up the gang culture, citizens not protected by the gates and armed security enjoyed by progressive elites want commensurate punishment every time a stray bullet paralyses a young mother who just happens to be on the wrong block at the wrong time, or kills an innocent child on his or her doorstep.
There is no compelling interest served by herding such miscreants into Democratic Socialist “prisons” where they will absorb dogma about how racist the country they’ve terrorized is, and how if they just learn how to change brake linings or scrape old paint from houses they can be assimilated back into the community.
President Trump says he’s getting MS-13 out “by the thousands.” That’s fine, as long as they either never come back or are subject to a lengthy cellblock sentence if they do.
For mass shooters who don’t have the guts to do themselves and everyone else a favor by offing themselves, the choice after a fair trial and a maximum of one appeal should be the gas chamber, lethal injection, or a firing squad.
Ask the average man or woman in the streets how they’d feel about a Cornel West slap on the wrist and discussion of vocational alternatives to incarceration for identity thieves.
Though crime is generally down across the fruited plain, there’s an uptick of late. The above examples illustrate some of the ways that uptick can be managed and reversed. Coddling criminals with Dr. West’s potpourri of kinder/gentler corrections policies is not what the president had in mind when he made Make America Safe Again part of his mantra.
In terms of political strategery, however, it probably is better in the long run, and certainly for the midterms, for conservative media to minimize the equivocations of deep thinkers like Professor West, and instead highlight unabashed radical socialists like Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Democratic candidate for New York’s 14th congressional district.
She hasn’t come out foursquare for abolishing prisons yet, but she references the movement in this interview with America, The Jesuit Review: “Solutions are already beginning to take shape, which include unraveling the War on Drugs, reconsidering mandatory minimum sentencing and embracing a growing private prison abolition movement that urges us to reconsider the levels at which the United States pursues mass incarceration.”
DNC Chair Keith Ellison has indicated that Ms. Cortez is the future of the Democratic Party. The degree to which the Democratic Socialists and the mainstream Democratic Party are aligned has yet to be fully determined, but there are some troubling indicators.
Suffice it to say that if you like your prisons, you can keep your prisons, as long as people like her, and the Democratic Socialists, are prevented from gaining even a smidgen of national power.