Tough on crime a winning issue for Republicans

Democrats are trying to shame Republicans into giving up one of their strongest issues: being tough on crime. Will Bunch, writing in the Philadelphia Inquirer, says that Republicans are reviving “racist ‘Willie Horton’-style fearmongering” ads from their 1980s playbook. Similar accusations litter the airwaves on CNN and MSNBC. Fretting abounds in the New York Times and Washington Post.

Republicans should ignore this. Bunch has no evidence that the ads are fueling racist incidents or ripping up the social fabric. He objects that the ads are working: A “once seemingly dead-in-the-water Mehmet Oz has revitalized his Republican Senate campaign against Democrat John Fetterman — and suddenly the 2022 midterms are all crime, all the time.”

There’s a good reason for that. Philadelphia’s district attorney, Larry Krasner, ran as a progressive. His own office’s website reports that 49 percent of gun-possession charges and 66 percent of violent offenses were withdrawn or dismissed this year. Over 400 people have been murdered in Philadelphia so far this year; the city is on pace to break homicide records by the end of the year. Carjackings have skyrocketed. The atmosphere of lawlessness reached a crescendo in recent weeks as five teens were shot outside of Roxborough High School, one fatally. And Temple University graduate Everett Beauregard was shot in the back of the head by a complete stranger near Drexel. Pennsylvania’s Democratic Senate candidate John Fetterman endorsed Krasner’s reelection campaign and embraced all of his soft-on-crime policies. George Soros’s political organizations spent nearly $1.7 million to elect Krasner as Philadelphia’s DA.

If Republicans can’t run against this unfolding disaster, then democracy itself is a joke. Berwood Yost, a pollster who directs the Franklin & Marshall College Center for Opinion Research, noted that Krasner is a huge electoral liability for Democrats: “He’s a direct tie to what Republicans would call ‘woke, soft-on-crime views towards the police’ — and those views are just not a popular position anywhere outside of Philadelphia.” Elections are for checking the positions of authority against the populace.

A New York Times/Siena College poll shows that voters nationwide trust Republicans more than Democrats on crime and policing by a margin of ten percentage points. A Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 56 percent of registered voters trusted Republicans more on crime; only 34 percent trusted Democrats. It’s not just political malpractice not to push this advantage, it would be a disservice to a public that is crying out for change.

Crime is a running feature even in the races conducted in deep-blue states, like Mark Ronchetti’s run for governor in New Mexico, or Lee Zeldin’s run in New York. It features in congressional races in the suburbs of Portland, Ore. And why not? Voters in San Francisco recently recalled Chesa Boudin, another Soros-funded prosecutor, because of the crime wave and collapse of public order under his brief reign. The backlash against “defund the police” policies was so strong that San Francisco’s mayor, London Breed, reversed those policies and promised a wide-ranging crackdown on disorder. Democrats want safe neighborhoods too.

The effect of Republican campaigning on crime is seen most prominently in Wisconsin. Voters in the state remember that when Kenosha was being burned by rioters in 2020, Democrats like Kamala Harris had spent the summer promoting bail for rioters. And while the national media have memory-holed the Waukesha Christmas parade attack, Wisconsinites can’t forget it. Republican senator Ron Johnson started the race nearly seven points behind. After running ads identifying his opponent, Mandela Barnes, with an agenda of de-incarceration — emptying the prisons as fast as possible — every poll has shown Johnson leading the race.

Republicans should turn the accusations of the media and Democrats back against them. Democrats have been pursuing a utopian fantasy about criminal-justice reform. The cost of these delusions is paid for by poorer communities, who have to put up with more drugs, more burglaries, and more murders. It is people of color who suffer disproportionately when crime is rampant, when business investment dries up, and when national chains pull up stakes.

Republicans should be thankful that doing the right thing — promising to get control of crime and disorder — is so politically advantageous.

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