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Next victims of rising crime? Democrats in 2022 midterms

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Violent crime is on the rise in America — and Democrats, with good cause, are worried that they may be among the casualties.  

And it’s not only a surge in shoot-outs or drive-bys in our nation’s capital and in Chicago, Baltimore, and other big cities. NPR reports that “Many small cities that typically have relatively few murders are seeing significant increases over last year. Killings in Albuquerque, N.M., Austin, Texas, and Pittsburgh, for example, have about doubled so far in 2021, while Portland, Ore., has had five times as many murders compared to last year, according to data compiled by Jeff Asher, a crime data analyst and co-founder of AH Datalytics.”

All of those places are run by Democratic mayors; so are the bigger cities where crime has surged. Add to that, that it’s the left wing of the Democratic Party that wants to “defund” the police, that it’s progressive Democrats who came up with the idea to “reimagine policing,” and none of this bodes well for Democrats next year. Voters don’t like politicians who are soft on crime — and hard on cops.

According to Mike Berg, a spokesman for the National Republican Congressional Committee, “Democrats across the country spent the last year defunding police departments, so they shouldn’t be surprised when voters hold them responsible for the spike in violent crime.”

Democrats know they have a problem and that’s why President Biden recently spoke to law enforcement officials about the increase in violent crime in America. “It seems like most of my career I’ve been dealing with this issue,” he said. “While there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach, we know there are some things that work, and the first of those that work is stemming the flow of firearms used to commit violent crimes.”

Liberals, like the president, think guns are the problem. Conservatives think criminals are the problem.

It apparently is a lot easier for liberal Democrats to blame crime on guns than on the people using them, many of whom are young men who grew up without fathers in their homes and who are running wild in our cities. Blaming criminals might offend progressives in the party who prefer to blame “racism” for just about everything.  

It’s not only violent gun crime that Democrats will have to deal with if they don’t want to get trounced in next year’s midterm elections. You may have seen those news videos of young men looting high-end stores in several big cities and casually walking out onto the street with bags of merchandise. They know there are no consequences; they know they won’t be arrested and, on the outside chance that they are, they know they won’t go to jail. That’s because they also know something else: A lot of district attorneys — who also are progressive Democrats, by the way — don’t want to prosecute a whole array of crimes, which in a lot of places includes stealing whatever crooks feel like stealing.  

All of this calls to mind the “Broken Windows” theory of the 1980s.

In March of 1982, two social scientists, James Q. Wilson and George L Kelling, wrote an essay in the Atlantic Monthly entitled, “Broken Windows.” They wrote: “Social psychologists and police officers tend to agree that if a window in a building is broken and is left unrepaired, all the rest of the windows will soon be broken. This is as true in nice neighborhoods as in rundown ones. Window-breaking does not necessarily occur on a large scale because some areas are inhabited by determined window-breakers whereas others are populated by window-lovers; rather, one un-repaired broken window is a signal that no one cares, and so breaking more windows costs nothing.”

The thinking behind the Broken Windows theory is simple: Tackle problems when they’re small, or expect more broken windows — and worse. But if you repair the window within a short period of time, the thinking goes, vandals will be less likely to break more windows — or to move on to do even more damage. 

There are skeptics who say the Broken Windows theory is bunk, that it doesn’t cut down on serious crime and that it leads to “over-policing,” usually in minority communities. That may be true.

But common sense ought to tell us that if the authorities look the other way when people get drunk in public, or urinate on the sidewalk, or jump turnstiles to get on public transportation, or even shoplift, then a certain mentality takes over — a lawless “I can get away with anything” mentality.

Politicians are nothing if not practical; their survival depends on knowing which way the wind is blowing. And Democrats know that the voters they’ll need to win next year — moderate voters, especially college-educated women who live in the suburbs — may return to the Republican Party if they believe Democrats can’t handle the crime problem. They know that, if this happens, they won’t hold the House next year and they may also lose control of the Senate.

The GOP has history on its side. Since World War II, the party in power has lost an average of nearly 26 House seats and two Senate seats in a president’s first term. This time around, Republicans may also have crime on their side.

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.

Tags Broken windows theory homicide spike Joe Biden progressive Democrats violent crime

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