The Yin and Yang of Liberal Crime Policy
How is it possible, in this decades-long sea of crime, that conservatives cannot turn this into a winning issue? The progressive Democratic city of Milwaukee, Wisconsin, illustrates problems seen nationwide. Despite record high crime, Mayor Cavalier Johnson’s do-nothing platform, and the left-wing agenda of District Attorney John Chisholm, Milwaukee voters in April swept liberals back into office. Yet we still see conservatives running on the same inept campaigns they have been losing for years.
Saying one “Backs the Badge” and that crime is out of control is sensible, but misses the fact that this has not consistently won elections. Conservatives are occasionally ideological and almost never document decades of liberal crime failures. The revolving door crime wave exploded in the 1960s, putting “the criminals back on the street before the police could fill out the paperwork.” Crime ran unchecked until the 1990s when truth-in-sentencing laws closed loopholes in sentencing, probation, parole, and early release. But these were structural, not ideological victories. By not demanding apologies, not attacking progressive ideology, conservatives left the door open to renewed liberal attacks that undercut the justice system. Today’s revolving door includes district attorneys that do not prosecute; the demonization, defunding, understaffing, and constraining of the police; the deliberate decay of correction system’s infrastructure; liberal judges; narcotics open borders; sanctuary cities and lenient bail rules.
Liberal crime policy is a yin and yang of insanity and extortion. The yin of progressive insanity began in the 1960s with the utopian claim that behavioral scientists can rehabilitate criminals without the need for prisons. The resultant crime explosion was followed by more crazy ideology that the criminal is the victim of the unjust society. Later the revolutionary anarchists added the demand to tear down the imperfect justice system.
Left-wing criminologists have unceasing explanations. Their failed programs are repeatedly replaced; and so Milwaukee has its new programs. The “414Life” violence prevention program is a failure, with record shootings, stolen cars, reckless driving, and carjackings being the only results after four years and a five-fold increase in funding. “Blueprint for Peace” is another program, openly anti-law and order and anti-prison spending. This program demands even less inconvenience for criminals by a “move away from overly punitive policies” and calls the correction system the “prison industrial complex.” “Credible Messenger” is another ballyhooed program; it touts equity as a replacement for law enforcement. Their message center talks about “current approaches to justice,” as if rehabilitation is a new idea.
Claims of success for these initiatives fly in the face of what everyone can see. The public is continuously victimized and lives are shattered. The real problem is not that these programs are endlessly ineffective; it’s that they undercut law and order. They are not intended as supplements to, but as replacements for traditional criminal justice. Their foundation is insane revolutionary ideology that subverts the justice system. Criminality as the root cause of crime is not considered. Decades of liberal policy failures have resulted in a homicide rate in Milwaukee dozens of times higher than the European Union. Mayor Johnson’s platform of gun lock giveaways, police sensitivity training, “community healing,” faulting street design for reckless driving, and jawing about root causes does nothing. District Attorney Chisholm testified on March 15th that Milwaukee is in a “triage” crisis, unable to keep up with all the crime. And then in the next breath he bragged about not inconveniencing criminals, that juvenile detentions are way down on his watch. Chisholm also drops 60% of the felony and 65% of the misdemeanor cases given to him. Protecting the public is never the liberal priority.
But the flip side of this yin insanity is yang extortion. Crime is the engine of progressive power for largess, for political gain, to attack the 2nd Amendment and to grow the government. For Bernie Sanders socialists, the government can never be big enough. The government takes an ever-increasing percentage of GDP and then ever-increasingly shifts spending towards social redistribution. Progressives rode the crime wave they created to 40 years control of Congress starting in 1955. They got everything and passed every law they wanted. Their ultimate goal is to let crime get so bad that gun rights are overturned and guns are confiscated. Not coincidentally, the successful truth-in-sentencing movement did not start until the mid-1990s when Democrats lost control of Congress.
High crime is not failure for liberals; in reality this is cruel and cynical extortion that has pushed the massive expansion of federal and state governments. How cruel? Over the last sixty years, 625 million crimes have been reported. One million have been murdered and 1.2 million have died of opioid overdoses. Democratic cities across the country are similar in their dysfunctions. Milwaukee now has the fastest growing murder rate in the country. Progressives are never going to take criminals off the streets, and you will never have a safe society unless you vote the liberals out of office.
Chris Kemble has written articles for the MacIver Institute, Canada Free Press, Natural Gas Now, Wisconsin Conservative Digest, Wisconsin Interest and the Federalist Society. He recently ran for alderman in Wauwatosa, Wisconsin.