Crime and the 'root cause' the left won't say out loud

Whatever anyone thinks about Republicans, or conservatives, or anybody who ever said a kind word about Donald TrumpDonald TrumpTrump takes shot at new GOP candidate in Ohio over Cleveland nickname GOP political operatives indicted over illegal campaign contribution from Russian national in 2016 On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default MORE, none of them is responsible for the chaos that has erupted in America’s biggest cities. 

The surge in crime we’ve been witnessing in New York (murders up 14 percent over last year during the first three months of 2021) and Chicago (homicides up 33 percent) and Los Angeles (homicides up nearly 36 percent) is evidence that, while progressives may know how to get elected, they don’t have a clue about how to govern. 

“Once in office, progressives don’t seem to know how to run anything more serious than a street protest,” is how an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal put it.

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There are basic rules of civilized societies, and one of them is that you rightly should be concerned that if you commit a serious crime, you’ll wind up behind bars. But that’s not how it works anymore in a lot of places. 

If it isn’t progressive mayors supporting “defund the police” movements, it’s progressive prosecutors who don’t really like prosecuting criminals. In Los Angeles, the new district attorney, George Gascon, is reviewing nearly 20,000 old prison sentences for violent crimes such as murder. Why? Because he’s considering releasing the convicted criminals early, which he figures would be a good way to reduce overcrowding in prisons. Voters have noticed — and have launched a recall movement to get him out of office. 

And if you get arrested for breaking the law, more than a few liberal city officials are against cash bail requirements because, they say, that’s discrimination against poor people. So the guy who just got arrested can be back on the street committing more crimes even before the court paperwork is completed. Voters have noticed that, too.

In fact, according to a YouGov/The Economist poll, the share of Americans who say crime is the most important issue facing America has increased since Joe Biden became president, which may explain why he finally got around to noticing that there’s a crime problem in urban America. He gave a speech on June 23 that was largely about guns. But while calling for a ban on so-called assault weapons may please the anti-gun left wing in his party, it won’t put a dent in urban crime, where the weapon of choice is a handgun.

Still, as syndicated conservative columnist Rich Lowry points out, “It’s a good thing the president has noticed that homicides increased 30 percent last year, a historic jump that shows no signs of abating. But he leads a national party that is largely incapable of seriously grappling with a problem that requires resisting the years-long intellectual and political campaign to delegitimize law enforcement and the criminal justice system.”

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It’s a lot easier for Biden to blame an inanimate object like a gun than to blame criminals in big cities who are consciously choosing to commit acts of violence. You know why? Because blaming criminals might offend those progressives in his party, and that’s not something the president is eager to do.

I’ve had the impression for a while now that Biden, who ran as a centrist Democrat, isn’t actually calling the shots when it comes to policy. The left wing of his party is driving the car and Biden is just sitting in the backseat, going along for the ride.

And that’s why there’s something you don’t hear from Biden or his fellow Democrats, who are always looking for what they describe as “root causes” — that fatherlessness is a very important root cause of a lot of the mayhem we’re witnessing in urban America.

The absence of responsible fathers in the lives of young boys in places such as Chicago — where, over Father’s Day weekend, 10 people were killed and 65 wounded in shootings — is causing more problems than old-fashioned racism. Yet Chicago’s progressive mayor, Lori LightfootLori LightfootChicago teachers to 'step up resistance' if school district doesn't improve COVID-19 protections Chicago becomes latest city to require vaccinations for workers 2 brothers charged in fatal shooting of Chicago police officer MORE, tells us that “racism is a public-health crisis” that continues to “rob residents of the opportunity to live and lead full, healthy and happy lives.”  

And when I brought up fatherlessness with a progressive journalist, he angrily told me I was dealing in “tired, conservative tropes.” Conservatives talk about the problems caused by fatherlessness, I told him, because liberals won’t.

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But Democrats may want to start talking about the things that make them uncomfortable — if for no other reason than that the midterm elections are just over the horizon.

Rising crime has become a major political issue in America, an issue that could cause Democrats a lot of harm. People care about their safety. They care about it a lot. Voters aren’t likely to blame Republicans for the lawlessness they’re watching just about every day on the news. But they just might blame Joe Biden and the Democratic Party. 

That’s why President BidenJoe BidenHouse clears bill to provide veterans with cost-of-living adjustment On The Money — Dems dare GOP to vote for shutdown, default To reduce poverty, stop burdening the poor: What Joe Manchin gets wrong about the child tax credit MORE took time away from his push to pass multitrillion-dollar spending bills to unveil his crime agenda. Surely he knows that a recent Fox News poll found that 73 percent of registered voters think there’s more crime nationwide now than there was a year ago.

And nothing focuses the attention of a politician more than the prospect of losing the next election.

Bernard Goldberg is an Emmy and an Alfred I. duPont-Columbia University award-winning writer and journalist. He was a correspondent with HBO’s “Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel” for 22 years and previously worked as a reporter for CBS News and as an analyst for Fox News. He is the author of five books and publishes exclusive weekly columns, audio commentaries and Q&As on his Patreon page. Follow him on Twitter @BernardGoldberg.