Democrats Are the Anticrime Party


President Clinton promotes an anticrime bill, Aug. 11, 1993.



Photo:

Dirck Halstead/The LIFE Images Collection via Getty Images

From 1993 to 2019, crime steadily decreased in the U.S. Every president since

Bill Clinton

inherited a declining crime rate and left office with a further decline in crime rate, until

Donald J. Trump

came along. During Mr. Trump’s final year in office, violent crimes and homicides spiked. Yet if you tuned into Fox News, you’d draw the conclusion that the Democratic Party is opposed to law and order.

Crime is going to be an issue up and down the ballot in 2022, and many local politicians are already feeling the heat. Now that violent crime is on the rise, we Democrats can no longer afford to sit by passively while Republicans trumpet bellicose law-and-order talking points. If we don’t aggressively begin to own the crime issue and make Republicans respond to their own failures, we risk losing our slim majorities in Congress.

The modern Democratic Party is flat-out better on crime than Republicans. Mr. Trump presided over the greatest crime rise in modern American history. Now it’s time for the Democratic consultant class to stop its bed-wetting on this issue and take this case to the American people: A lawless president created the perfect storm for the crime crisis America now faces.

From beginning to the end, Mr. Trump’s presidency was one long crime wave. He broke laws, obstructed justice and incited violence knowing he wouldn’t be held accountable while in office. Eight of his campaign associates were put in shackles. He pardoned five of them. Corruption became the administration’s oxygen, and Mr. Trump’s stunning display of lawlessness set an example for criminals to crawl out of the shadows and believe they would never be brought to justice. It was also no coincidence that Mr. Trump presided over an all-time low in white-collar crime enforcement.

Crime flourished in the streets as well as the suites. The murder rate shot up 26%. Mass shootings spiked. The administration even attempted to slash community policing. Mr. Trump rambled into office inciting racism and, according to the Federal Bureau of Investigation, hate crimes spiked more than 20% during his presidency.

All of this culminated with the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol, in which Republicans are now on the record defending violent attacks on law enforcement and voting against funds for the Capitol Police. So who really voted to defund the police? And who did it to cover up the investigation of a host of crimes? Not the Democrats.

So, Democrats, listen up: When it comes to crime, don’t pivot, don’t take it off the table—hold Mr. Trump and the Republicans accountable. Make them own the crime wave they created. Democrats shouldn’t stop at police reform. We need to get the whole job done. Reform the police and clean up the Trump crime wave.

Mr. Trump infamously said about the government’s slow early response to the Covid crisis, “I don’t accept responsibility at all.” He and the Republicans don’t accept responsibility for the crime wave either. Instead, they point fingers at everyone else. But they built it, and they own it. The Republican Party is betting that the American people will suffer amnesia from the carnage of the Trump presidency. It’s our job to keep the disastrous failures of the Trump presidency, including on crime, alive and well from now until Election Day 2022.

I love my party. I am a proud Democrat. There are plenty of good policies to reduce crime and reform the police at the same time. After the release of revolting footage of the 2019 death in police custody of

Ronald Greene

in Louisiana, it is as urgent as ever that we pass sweeping criminal-justice reforms, starting with the bill being discussed by Sens.

Tim Scott

and

Cory Booker

and

Rep. Karen Bass.

But we probably can’t usher in the sweeping reform needed if Democrats don’t have big majorities. And we can’t win big majorities unless we go on the offensive against the cheap talk of the Republican Party.

All too often, our consultant class and political operatives are insecure in confronting tough issues—and are scared to pursue the winning strategy. Those who are rightly intent on police reform shouldn’t shy away from holding Republicans accountable for the crime wave they created.

Democrats, don’t pivot on crime. Own the issue or the issue will own you.

Mr. Carville was Bill Clinton’s 1992 presidential campaign manager.

Wonder Land: When public officials desert any standards for public or personal behavior, expect violence. Image: Michael Reynolds/Shutterstock

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