Willie Horton and the Democratic Party's Greatest Fear
At seventy years old, Willie Horton is serving multiple lifetime sentences in a Maryland prison. His case was once famous enough that we can be reasonably certain that this recidivist monster will never again be released to commit another crime.
The nation is safe from Willie Horton. But the Democratic Party should not be.
Thirty-three years ago, this generally unremarkable piece of detritus provided an important lesson to the American electorate.
In 1974, Willie Horton and his accomplices robbed a gas station and viciously murdered its 17-year-old attendant.
Convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment without parole, he was locked up in Massachusetts for years, presumably ensuring that decent Americans would be safe from him from then on.
Unfortunately, despite a sentence that clearly provided no room for misinterpretation, the soft-on-crime Democrat government of Massachusetts, under then-governor Michael Dukakis, invited Horton to participate in an unsupervised weekend furlough program in 1986. Yes, you read that right: a vicious murderer was set free for the weekend, on purpose; he didn't even have to plan a clever escape. As one would expect, Horton failed to return, and he did who knows what for almost a year, until he was finally caught in Maryland, having beaten and knifed an innocent couple, binding the man, raping his fiancée, and stealing their car.
This Dukakis-era weekend furlough program became a campaign issue in the 1988 Democratic presidential primaries, when then-senator Al Gore brought it up as a valid knock against Dukakis, his rival for the nomination.
As soon as Dukakis was selected as the party's 1988 nominee, the George H.W. Bush campaign got to work making the same point Gore had made, recognizing that a general election population would be sensible enough to be horrified, even if the Democratic primary electorate was not.
Three decades have passed since then, and we now tend to attribute President Bush's victory to a very real public desire for a third Reagan term. There is some truth to that. But we may have also forgotten how much of a role the Willie Horton case played in that election.
This case, better than any other at the time, clarified for even the most casual observer just how different the two parties' views were — and remain — on the critical issue of public safety.
Fast-forward to November 21, 2021. In the tranquil suburban community of Waukesha, Wisconsin, a vicious bigot named Darrell Brooks — free on bail with multiple pending felonies, one being his recent attempt to run over his onetime girlfriend with his SUV — allegedly drove through a Christmas parade, running down as many innocent people as he could, killing at least five, injuring some sixty more.
Media-watchers have already begun to comment on how relatively little detailed coverage there has been. We have noticed blatant photo-editing techniques used to lighten the perpetrator's skin in media photos. We have seen a surprising lack of MSM interest in both the man's history and his apparent motive. We have seen, if anything, a textbook case in how to all but bury a story too big to dismiss.
The night it happened, we knew he was a criminal out on a ridiculously low bail. We knew he was a career criminal with a rap sheet a mile long.
But what we have learned since is that he is a test case of modern Democrat party policy — he is the ultimate conclusion of what today's Democrats refer to as "criminal justice reform," one of the fundamental campaign issues of the entire national party for several cycles now.
Everything that happened in his adult life (and likely his youth as well) went according to Democrat rules. Released on pitifully low bail again and again, even after bail-jumping... sentenced to time served, which was often no time at all, even for felonies, even for violent assaults...free even after trying to run over his girlfriend...free to record his malevolent, violence-advocating, anti-establishment, anti-white, anti-music versions of "rap" under the name Mathboi Fly.
Yes. A test case for the policies of the modern left in every way.
Republicans call for high bail levels for proven violent repeat offenders and bail-jumpers; Democrats call for an end to bail, and for the virtual elimination of holding even dangerous prisoners until trial.
Republicans call for stiff and certain sentences for convicted violent criminals; today's Democrats call for never-ending second chances, and even for the elimination of prisons themselves, as in the meantime, impatient Democrat governors and judges routinely throw open the prison gates on the slightest whim.
Republicans warn against the race-hustling, class division, and generally intolerant rhetoric of BLM, Antifa, and their pop culture mouthpieces; today's Democrats just double down on the venom, calling their foes "satanic," "evil," "oppressive," and much worse on a daily basis. Democrats attack Israel to attack Jews; they imagine something called "white privilege" and demand we apologize for it; they deny our Founding Father's great principles and accomplishments by calling them all slaveholders — yes, even the ones who founded manumission societies. Truth means nothing to today's left if it stands in the way of their party line.
Republicans warn against the cultural decline that has children more likely to be raised in a single-parent household than in a nuclear family unit; Democrats go so far as to champion single motherhood as an objective good, campaigning for ever more welfare programs to encourage such generational dependence.
Is it any wonder that our nation is suffering a massive crime wave?
Is it any wonder that overwhelmed and unsupported police are resigning and retiring in disgust and despair?
Is it any wonder that law-abiding, hardworking folk are fleeing the cities for saner environs?
Is it any wonder that people like Darrell Brooks continue to push their luck, again and again, ever more violent, ever more destructive, ever more saturated with a level of hatred that could drive them to pick out innocent strangers from a crowd and mercilessly mow them down with a car?
In 1988, such destructive lunacy was only the obsession of a minority of Democrat politicians. Things have changed. Today, it has infested their party, at not only the federal and state levels, but especially at the local level, in big and midsize cities from coast to coast.
The Obama, Clinton, and Biden campaigns made no secret of their disdain for America's criminal justice system and its goal of protecting the law-abiding citizenry. The modern Democrat candidate campaigns as a righteous advocate of "criminal justice reform"...which is in fact the utter elimination of criminal justice itself.
Darrell Brooks is the poster child for this modern Democrat cancer.
Democratic strategists — and their allies in the media — know that his rap sheet, his crimes, his anti-white vitriol, his misogynistic outlook, his disrespect for the life, liberty, or property of other human beings, are in fact an example of the America that awaits us all if the Democratic Party continues to hold power.
If Willie Horton was the poster child of the 1988 election, then Darrell Brooks must be all that and more in 2022 and beyond.
John F. Di Leo is a Chicagoland-based writer and trade compliance trainer, a onetime County Chairman of the Milwaukee County Republican Party. He writes a regular column for the Illinois Review, and his political satires about current events — including his latest, "Evening Soup with Basement Joe" — are available in eBook or paperback on Amazon.
Image via Pxhere.
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