AMAC Exclusive – By Claire Brighn
Amid a surge in homicides and violent crime across the country, many Democrats are desperately trying to shed the “Defund the Police” mantra that they have embraced for the better part of two years. But polls suggest that voters aren’t buying it, and elected Democrats everywhere will be on the hook for their support for radical policing and criminal justice policies that are wreaking havoc on American communities.
According to a Rasmussen poll from late last month, two-thirds of voters say crime is worsening, while even more – 83% – say violent crime will be an important voting issue come November. In Gallup’s most recent polling, 72% say they are dissatisfied with the nation’s policies to reduce or control crime. Another recent Wall Street Journal poll shows that on the question of which party is best at handling crime, voters trust Republicans over Democrats 46% to 26%.
Those numbers mean that Americans recognize just how dire things are when it comes to crime. Last year, homicide rates spiked in 13 major cities, each Democrat-run. Following harsh anti-police rhetoric from elected Democrats in recent years, police officers have found themselves in the crosshairs as well; ambush-style attacks on law enforcement shot up 115% last year. So-called “low-level crimes” like carjackings have also surged in major cities. A mass exodus from major cities including Chicago, San Francisco, New York, and Los Angeles is ongoing as a result, but crime has even seeped into smaller towns and suburbs.
At the same time, progressive prosecutors have doubled down on woke policies meant to “remake” the criminal justice system in the name of “social justice” – in other words, putting criminals first and victims last. Among the worst offenders are Kim Foxx of Chicago, Larry Krasner of Philadelphia, Chesa Boudin of San Francisco, Kim Gardner of St. Louis, and Mike Schmidt of Portland, to name a few. Lenient policies they rigorously pushed range from eliminating cash bail and downgrading crimes from felonies to misdemeanors to outright refusal to prosecute brazen crimes like robbery, resisting arrest, and even engaging in a shootout with police.
Unsurprisingly, Chicago saw its deadliest year in a quarter-century last year. Philadelphia broke its 1990 crime record, with over 550 killings. In places like Washington, D.C., carjackings were up 18% last year, following a staggering 153% increase from 2019 to 2020. Concerningly, many of those crimes were committed by teenagers, some as young as 14.
But as crime has continued to skyrocket, so has public outrage at progressive prosecutors and woke soft-on-crime policies. According to a Siena Research Institute poll released on Monday, for example, 56% of New York voters say the city’s 2019 bail “reform” that eliminated cash bail for those facing misdemeanor and non-violent felony charges has been bad for New York, while 64% say it has led to an increase in crime. In a February Rasmussen poll asking voters about specific policies of big cities with progressive prosecutors, disapproval is widespread: 58% say Bragg’s policy in New York of not prosecuting those resisting arrest makes it more likely that people will resist arrest; 72% think Boudin’s policy in San Francisco of not prosecuting felons under California’s Three Strikes law makes it more likely felons will continue perpetrating crime in the city, and 69% think Gardner’s policy in St. Louis of reducing prosecutions by more than 30% while crime increases make the city less safe. Perhaps most notably, 58% of Americans believe a sweeping law permitting the removal of state attorneys from office for not prosecuting violent crimes would improve public safety.
In Oregon, Washington County District Attorney Kevin Barton recently admitted that “people are increasingly concerned about the rise in crime, especially as it spreads into Washington County from Portland.” A statewide poll commissioned by the Oregon District Attorney’s Office confirms this, with 55% of voters saying they feel less safe than they did two years ago and 62% saying jail and prison time for offenders is, in fact, the best way to protect the public.
Moreover, voters have taken the frustration measured in public polling and translated it into political action, launching several successful recall efforts against progressive prosecutors. Almost a year ago, William McSwain, former U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, predicted this, saying that Philadelphia could very well be a leading indicator of the failed far-left progressive prosecutor movement after DA Krasner failed to earn the endorsement of the Philadelphia Democrat Party, which as one insider noted is “really an extraordinary thing that almost never happens.”
Last November, Republican Ann Davison also beat a progressive candidate for Seattle City Attorney, the first time a Republican has won a city attorney position in over three decades in the extremely liberal city. Biden, for context, won Seattle by more than 50 points in 2020. In Los Angeles and San Francisco, recall efforts of their DAs are well underway. An EMC Research poll released on March 10 shows 68% of likely San Francisco voters will vote to recall Chesa Boudin.
Amid this clear rebuke from voters, a number of Democrat-led cities have tried to quietly rewrite history and refund their police departments after vigorously defunding them last year. The culmination of this effort has been Biden’s grand overture to fund the police in his latest budget proposal and similarly disingenuous promise to support law enforcement in his State of the Union Address. Even so, radical Democrats in Congress continue to push “Defund the Police,” with Rep. Cori Bush of Missouri saying earlier this month that Democrats “cannot be afraid to talk about what ‘Defund the Police’ means.” Even Biden has betrayed his true feelings on the issue, saying at a Gun Violence Prevention Task Force meeting last month that he wants “every major city to follow New York’s lead” – after DA Alvin Bragg had released his soft on crime memo.
With midterms just around the corner and a growing number of crises plaguing Democrats at every level of government, Republicans have a strong advantage on a host of issues. But on crime, Democrats can’t even seem to rally support from their own voters anymore. By selling out to a small cadre of radical criminal justice “reform” advocates, Democrats willingly abandoned law and order and left their constituents at the mercy of criminals. Now, just as their voters have paid the price for such action in the streets, Democrats are likely to pay the price at the ballot box.
Claire Brighn is the pen name of a conservative researcher and writer with previous domestic and foreign policy experience in the Executive Branch.
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