To preserve law and order, leadership counts. If Biden is elected, we know socialists gain the upper hand, and a “Harris Administration” is likely. If Trump wins, calm returns – but not immediately. Restoring peace will take time.
Between the mid-1980s and 1992, I lived in, then commuted to New York City. Under two successive Democrat mayors, Koch and Dinkins, the city’s murder rate climbed from 1400 to 2245 in 1990, staying over 2000 until 1993 – until Republican Rudi Giuliani was elected.
Giuliani “made his bones” prosecuting mafia bosses. As mayor, he went to work on crime. Beyond murders, New Yorkers suffered 90 crimes per hundred thousand. The nation – following two Republican presidents – had just 55.
But good things take time. They did in New York City. In the late 1980s, before Giuliani arrived, crime got so bad vigilantes patrolled the subways. The Guardian Angels – unarmed but effective – started in New York City. Crime got so high people had to do something.
On the dark side, when fear rises – because police are underfunded, under-supported, unfairly blamed, or not allowed to do their jobs – people buy guns. They lose trust in local leaders. They prepare to take law into their own hands.
They did that in New York. Most famously, a citizen named Bernard Goetz got accosted on a subway by four youths. He shot them. Stories varied, but a grand jury refused to indict. The point is, lack of leadership, including reduced support for police, generates distrust, fear, armed people, reflexive self-defense, vigilantes, and overreactions.
In New York, by the time Giuliani arrived, tensions were high. So was crime. What happened next is instructive. Like Trump – and incidentally Reagan, for whom Giuliani worked at Justice – Giuliani believed in deterrence. He was tough on crime, across all demographics.
As Trump may do after this election, Giuliani explained “enough is enough,” and began educating and responding. He first reminded people about his “broken windows theory.”
He told people what many know – but forget. Crime – lawlessness – reflects what a community allows, encourages, excuses, or justifies. If civil disorder – law breaking – is tolerated, evidenced by broken windows, people go that way. If prosecuted, crime drops.
He proved the theory. In two years, prosecuting consistently, he lowered crime 22 percent. In time, he cut murders by three-quarters, from 2200 per hundred thousand to just over 500. By 2000, he had crimes per thousand below the national average, at 38 – murders down from 32 per hundred thousand to eight.
As we look to November 2020, four lessons flow:
First, leadership, resolve, deterrence, and hard-headed commitment to rule of law – including support for our police – matters. No civilized country exists without police – and never has. Human nature is fallen. Just look around.
Biden-Harris do not get it, or do not want to get it. Defunding police, appeasing those who destroy minority businesses, is a dead end. Trump is right, no good comes of appeasement.
Second, without leadership and police, trust plummets, fear rises, gun ownership and vigilantism soar – a poor replacement for good police. Already, gun ownership is spiking – bumped up by sales to women, minorities, and city residents. That is another reason Trump is gaining.
Third, good leaders turn things around. Trump has the leadership gene, for sure. Giuliani wasted no time, although getting crime down takes time. Giuliani’s message is Trump’s: Law and order matter. Notably, one law-abiding citizen in Giuliani’s New York – was Donald Trump.
Fourth, while crime can get a running start, especially if riots and violence are allowed unchecked, a point comes – when society either loses its way or a leader says “enough.” For New York, that moment was 1993. Another moment swept New York in 2001, and Giuliani again gave voice to those of us resolved not to give up, give in, or roll over.
For America, the trumpet sounded again in 2016. A second sounding, as our nation confronts socialist instability, is now. Bad news is – action is needed. Good news is – we are a people of action. Trump may have learned from Giuliani, maybe Reagan – or just knows. Leadership counts. Restoring peace takes time. Now, let us hope America remembers – in November.