Good morning, Democrats! While you have been asleep, the murder rate in all major cities has skyrocketed, violence is escalating, and your elected mayors haven’t a clue what to do about it.
And good morning, New York City! You will have a new mayor after the general election and he won’t be some socialist-lite version of Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez. He will be an ex-cop who made crime in the city his number one issue and has apparently won going away. Eric Adams is no conservative. But he’s smart enough to know which way the political winds are blowing and has not jumped on the “defund the police” bandwagon.
The American people have been trying to get the attention of Joe Biden and the Democrats for more than a year and make them see what they’re seeing: gangs and other criminals taking over their neighborhoods. It appears, finally, that the Democrats have gotten an electoral wake-up call.
For a White House that has been intensely focused on stamping out Covid-19 and shepherding trillions of dollars in spending on infrastructure and social-welfare programs through Congress, the violence presents a host of challenges that administration officials have so far struggled to get their arms around. First and foremost: determining how to stanch the bloodshed without exacerbating existing tensions on policing or hampering criminal justice reform efforts — a top Democratic priority.
For now, the White House’s main response is to focus on the weapons doing most of the killing.
It’s a big problem for Biden. How to stem the tide of violence without upsetting his number one special interest group? Most blacks who live in big cities would be happy to see a larger police presence and a crackdown on gangs. But Biden’s number one special interest group isn’t black people generally. It is radical black activists and racists who see the police as the enemy and want them out of their neighborhoods.
“It is staggering. It is sobering,” Deputy Attorney General Lisa Monaco acknowledged Tuesday in a town hall with police chiefs. “It is something that DOJ is committed to do all we can to reverse what are profoundly troubling trends and a really bad trajectory that we’re on.”
The administration can no longer blame the epidemic of murder and mayhem on the pandemic. Nor can they blame it on the weather. The killing is the direct result of Democratic politicians reducing police forces, radically changing the rules of police engagement, and sending an unspoken message to gangs that the restraints are off.
Just what is it these mayors and city councils expected? Gratitude from the gangs?
Biden knows he has to appear to be dealing with the problem. And like any good Democrat, he’s targeting guns.
On Tuesday, the Justice Department announced five strike forces that will target the flow of illegal firearms into places like New York City, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington, D.C. While Chicago, for example, has its own gun control measures in place, it has historically contended with the illegal trafficking of weapons from nearby Indiana, as well as southern states.
The DOJ announcement was in advance of Biden’s speech Wednesday on the rise of shootings and other violent crime. The president is expected to unveil additional measures targeting guns and crime, including giving cities the ability to tap funding from his American Rescue Plan to help combat violence, imposing a new zero tolerance policy toward gun dealers who break the law, and investing in community policing, among other initiatives, according to a senior administration official.
The measures, along with DoJ’s establishment of five task forces to deal with illegal guns flowing into the cities, won’t save one single life or stop one mass killing. It will, however, allow liberals to congratulate themselves for “doing something about the problem.”
This is important because the Democrats’ margin for error in elections is razor-thin. They just can’t afford any slippage. And the more crime becomes a political club that Republicans can use to smash Democrats with, the more perilous their political position will be.
The N.Y. Times’ Tom Friedman, one of Biden’s favorite columnists, writes today under the headline “Want to Get Trump Re-elected? Dismantle the Police”:
“As for policing, this issue could really sink Democrats. For example, big swaths of my old hometown, Minneapolis, have been turned into a dangerous and dystopian ghost city, wracked by gun violence, since the police murder of George Floyd.”
WashPost front page on Wednesday, top of column 1, “Cities at a loss as murder rates soar”: “The killings rolled over the country like a fast-moving storm. From Savannah to Austin, from Chicago to Cleveland.”
“In six hours one night this month, four mass-shooting attacks. And in their wake, a sober recognition from city leaders that they don’t have many options left for curbing a surge in homicides that is traumatizing communities nationwide.”
It shouldn’t have taken bodies dropping all over America’s big cities to get Biden and the Democrats’ attention. Denying the gangs access to some guns won’t work. They will simply go elsewhere to find them. You have to take the criminals off the streets and send them to prison for a long time. And you don’t do that with “community policing.” As well-intentioned as some activists are, what’s needed is hard-headed realism, not mushy-headed utopianism.