Crime generally happens at the local level. National politicians can’t do too much about it. If you have considerable evidence that your local police aren’t doing their jobs, by all means raise hell about it.
But consider some myths:
- Immigrants, legal and illegal, are not responsible for massive waves of crime — for the most part, quite the opposite.
- Aside from a few misguided Zoomers, those who say “Defund the Police” are using poor messaging but don’t mean it literally. Democrats who run big cities aren’t defunding squat.
- The big rise in crime you’ve noticed didn’t happen under Biden. It was under Trump. Again, not necessarily a president’s fault. But if Trump isn’t responsible for this increase, neither is Biden. And you’ll have to overlook the fact that the numbers went way down during the Obama years.
But there’s another factor in play here, and I for one have been kicking myself for not realizing it until I read this story: Thanks to COVID, the courts are bogged down and way behind. (I have a first-hand anecdote — I’ve been tracking the trial of a soccer coach credibly accused of starting a sexual relationship with a player when she was 13. That case has dragged on nearly six years by a defense lawyer whose “office” is in a UPS Store.
There are indeed a few things lawmakers can do and have failed to do. One big one is fentanyl, which some lawmakers tried to address in recent years but haven’t convinced their colleagues to join them. Like the rise in crime in general, this is something Republicans have tried to lay at Biden’s feet, but the numbers don’t back it up. Fentanyl overdose deaths rose twice as much in 2020, Trump’s last year, as they did in 2021, Biden’s first.
Oh, and there are a couple of things that are partially in politicians’ hands that could help us all deal with crime. The pandemic, understandably, made people restless and grumpy, which led them to all sorts of crime.
For further reading on what politicians can and can’t do, at least at the federal level, check below. There’s some interesting stuff, including Biden’s role in what happened in 1994. Draw your own conclusions about whether that was a good tradeoff.
Then there’s that other thing.
The elephant in the room.
You know what it is.
Which we’ll address on another page.
- June 2021, The Atlantic: Biden Doesn’t Have an Answer to America’s Crime Spike — The president has few levers he can pull on to reduce the country’s murder rate.
- March 2021, The Atlantic: Why America’s Great Crime Decline Is Over
- January 2021, Nature: Why do inequality and deprivation produce high crime and low trust?
- August 2020, FiveThirtyEight: Many Americans Are Convinced Crime Is Rising In The U.S. They’re Wrong.
- October 2019, Brennan Center: Crime Is Down. Does President Trump Deserve Credit?
- June 2019, New York Times: ‘Lock the S.O.B.s Up’: Joe Biden and the Era of Mass Incarceration