Monday Wake Up Call – November 15, 2021

The Daily Escape:

Autumn, Seven Lakes Basin, OR – October 2021 photo by Valledweller33

With Congress’s dancing around (and not passing) Biden’s social welfare bill, we’re now to the point where there are less than 20 days until the government’s funding runs out in early December. There are other issues that must be dealt with as well. The federal debt limit needs to be raised. The National Defense Authorization Act must be passed.

The Democrats and Biden are entering yet another critical time. Wrongo wrote about this two months ago, and since then, just about the only thing that Congress accomplished was passing the infrastructure bill. That wasn’t chump change, but the 2021 legislative calendar has only three weeks left to accomplish a long list of must-pass items.

But this is far from the only concern for Dems. With the 2022 mid-terms looming, they need to take a careful look at their policies on immigration, crime, and inflation. These will all be issues that Republicans use against them at election time. The Dems response is usually to deny that an issue is a problem for them, or for the country.

The Dems start by saying there’s nothing to the problem. They reframe it as a different and more complex issue, and say that the White House is already on top of it. This is what Ruy Texeira calls the Fox News Fallacy.

“This is the idea that if Fox News…criticizes the Democrats for X then there must be absolutely nothing to X and the job of Democrats is to assert that loudly and often. The problem is that an issue is not necessarily completely invalid just because Fox News mentions it. That depends on the issue.”

If there’s something to the issue and persuadable voters have real concerns, Democrats won’t assuage those concerns simply by embracing their Fox News Fallacy of denial and deflection. Texeira offers a few examples including the debate over CRT, border security, and crime:

“Start with crime. Initially dismissed as simply an artifact of the Covid shutdown that was being vastly exaggerated by Fox News and the like for their nefarious purposes, it is now apparent that the spike in violent crime is quite real and that voters are very, very concerned about it.”

Clearly this includes the Democrats’ traditional base of Black and Hispanic voters. A Pew poll found that Black and Hispanic Democrats are significantly more likely than white Democrats to favor more local police funding.

This is more of the disconnect that Wrongo wrote about last week. Democrats need to deal with how their pet issues may play differently to different parts of their coalition. As blog reader D. Price said in comments, we assume that our liberal values and the language we use to frame those values must fall on others’ ears just like it does on ours. He points out that Dems need to listen more and take seriously the different perspectives in the Democratic coalition.

Some Democrats, like NYCs mayor-elect Eric Adams, openly highlight their commitment to cracking down on crime and criminals. Consider a recent NBC poll that shows Republicans are favored over Democrats on the crime issue by 22 points.

And in heavily Black Detroit, a USA Today/Suffolk University//Detroit Free Press poll found that Detroit residents, by an overwhelming 9-1, say they would feel safer with more cops on the street, not fewer. On a list of eight concerns, police reform ranked last, at 4%.

The poll also found a significant racial divide on the question. Black residents ranked crime at the top of their list of concerns: 24% cited public safety, and just 3% named police reform, while White residents were only slightly more concerned about police reform than public safety, 12% compared with 10%.

Democrats have to stop saying that they suck at messaging, as if there’s nothing that can be done about it. They must create messaging that emphasizes what Americans have in common and their right not just to economic prosperity but to public safety, secure borders and a world-class (and maybe) non-ideological education for their children.

That’s much more likely to work than simply denying that these issues are problems.

Time to wake up Democrats! There’s no time to lose. Despite the messaging from DC that all will be fine in the mid-terms if the Dems just pass a few pieces of legislation, their problems are much deeper. To help them wake up, listen and watch Della Mae, an all-woman American bluegrass band perform their 2021 tune, “The Way It Was Before“.

Sample lyric:

I left my home and rolled the dice
Followed the promise of a better life
Now I work at the factory
On the third shift while my kids sleep
They say our job’s a necessity they turn the lock and hide the keys
They call us heroes on the killing floor but a day off is something that I can’t afford

We can’t go back to the way it was before
While some profit off the ones who just endure
We all know what’s broken won’t get fixed by wishin and hopin
We can’t just go back to the way it was before

terence mckenna

I have read pieces that suggest that Democrats have made a big mistake re crime. And in fact they have – but when someone says that the crime rate is up because of COVID, truth to tell, I agree. I say this from a more conservative viewpoint than is probably typical of this blog and its community of readers.

The crime trend spiked with COVID (and before the mid 2020 riots) and the trend is nationwide. It even seems to have peaked in places like NYC.

And since we are now still under COVID (so with job levels still down, and people like myself still working from home) it is completely reasonable to continue to assign the blame to COVID which impacted most the poorest folks and least those with good incomes who can do their job from a laptop. Crime, especially crimes of property and violence tracks inversely with income.

Worse still in terms of complaints about Democrats and crimes, most police departments across the US did not reduce their budgets. Still crime trended up.

So now we must reckon on the fare of low income folks having the worst 18 months of their lives. Did policy cause it? No. Will simply raising the red flag of a war on crime stop it? No. The police don’t stop most crime but to the extent that they do anything at all to prevent crime, it is by looking at trends, and revising how often and where they patrol – so by design, the police will always be behind the trend.

So when Dems say the crime rate is an expression of COVID, well, yes it is. That the voters look for easy answers hurts Democrats since Dems tend to look for real helpful policies and not simple lies. But it will be difficult for Dems to fight the eternal soft on crime complaints.

Let’s also admit that we don’t know why things happen – not useful for a politician, but honest. So the gentrification of parts of Brooklyn was not predictable but it happened. Same with parts of Cleveland (my son travels to Cleveland on business).

Nor do new reporters get it right. Though Giuliani gets credit for New York’s drop in crime, the drop began under Dinkins. I live in Dover NJ, a Democratic town in rich Morris County. Ours is a 70% Hispanic town with a black mayor. Our BLM march through town didn’t harm anyone or deface and building. I go to Paterson NJ most weekend and volunteer. Their BLM marches and protests also were very peaceful – and the statue of Columbus remains not defaced.

The easy stories are often not true.


@ Terry: Agree with you. That violent crime is up while police budgets either rose or stayed the same is an interesting point. I think that in general terms, Dems should be calling for more police funding along with more police accountability. That seems like a decent trade. Our town saw the same BLM result as yours, with several marches and no violence or property damage. I’m unsure what the cause is for the new national wave of violent crime. I would like to see better data on whether local police “stopping policing” as a BLM counter-protest correlates with it, and to what extent.