In San Francisco, voters are weighing DA Chesa Boudin and progressive efforts to defund the police in the balance. Will they be found wanting?
The pandemic did not impact every country equally.
Sometimes comparing nations isn’t an apples to apples comparison. For instance, comparing the universal health care they have in Canada to the lack of same we experience here in the U.S.
Canada has about 37,742,154 people living in it as of the 2020 census; the U.S. has that many…plus another 300 million people.
Other times, comparing nations can be an apples to apples comparison. For instance, most developed countries experienced a drop in crime during the worst months of COVID19 lock-downs.
The U.S. did not.
An outlier, the U.S. has been experiencing since mid-2020 what can only be described as a crime boom. Historians may eventually define our era, not by what we achieved or didn’t achieve, but how much human vice beset the time of COVID19.
From criminals and gangs of organized thieves who perpetrated the “biggest fraud in a generation,” by stealing over $100 billion dollars in COVID19 relief funds in almost every state from California to Kansas, to the national homicide rate swelling a shocking 29%; crime is having a major moment in the 2020s with no signs of letting up.
Indeed rising crime trends, like inflation, seem only too sticky. The two are interrelated; the worse the economy gets, the higher crime is likely to rise.
Other factors on a downward spiral are contributing to the rise in crime currently plaguing the U.S.
Staff shortages are afflicting police departments from L.A. to Des Moines, which is contributing to rising crime, which in turn leads to lower morale, more retirements, and fewer police academy recruits, which leads to fewer cops and back to rising crime.
Increasingly, criminals seem to sense our weakness: The public has lost its will to punish offenders via a system of mass incarceration they perceive to be unjust.
That may be true, but refusing to put criminals in jail, while it might do wonders for America’s incarceration problems, doesn’t seem to be doing anything at all for America’s crime problem.
Or for the victims of crime.
One of the shortfalls of progressive movements historians have long pointed out, is a great facility for overthrowing unjust and unfair systems…while lacking such facility to establish anything better in its place.
The French Revolution; the Bolshevik Revolution: Ostensibly, both were proletariat uprisings aimed at toppling a monarchy in order to establish a fairer, more just and equitable society. On the first order of business, both efforts were a resounding success; on the second, only abject failure.
Today, life in France and Russia is just as beset as ever by injustice, poverty, inequities and the machinations of power elites. Those two “revolutions” might just as well have not happened.
When it comes to Defund the Police, it’s a far-left progressive idea that never really got off the ground in the Democratic Party proper. Or rather, vocal progressives were all for it- on Twitter- and a few local and city governments received much praise for it- on Twitter.
In real life, those efforts fizzled out pretty quickly.
Defund the Police: Good hashtag, looked good on a protest sign, easy to chant, obviously it drove the police nuts. In practice, it was a disaster.
It didn’t work. Or rather, people think it worked even though it never amounted to much policy change in police budgets nationwide once the dust settled on 2020.
A few areas went ahead with minimal efforts to Defund the Police- Minneapolis chief among them- only to turn around mere months later to restore police budgets and beg for law enforcement support from neighboring agencies.
“How a Pledge to Dismantle the Minneapolis Police Collapsed,” pronounced the New York Times in September of 2020, admitting citizens didn’t like it much and pushed back almost immediately.
“Councilor Andrew Johnson, one of the nine members who supported the pledge in June, said in an interview that he meant the words ‘in spirit,’ not by the letter,” wrote the Times.
But while progressives didn’t actually manage to Defund the Police, many police departments are yet facing critical staff shortages. While plenty of other industries are grappling with staffing shortages, a rising trend in officers quitting the force is hard to ignore.
Especially in light of the most predictable consequence of the Defund the Police movement of all: A rise in private security services.
Wealthy residential and commercial areas are increasingly being protected by paid private security, often former police officers making more money in the private sector than they would have working their beat.
How this serves working-class neighborhoods and areas is anyone’s guess.
Did the Defund the Police movement, and the attendant protests which caused between $1 and $2 billion dollars in damages (during a two week period alone) and were the most expensive in history, contribute to the low morale, early retirements, transfers, police academy drop-outs and resignations crippling police departments?
Establishing a direct cause and effect relationship would be difficult, but it isn’t necessary- is it? Of course Defund the Police contributed to fewer officers on the streets.
Police officers have been vocal about the abuse, injuries, and dangers they endured during the 2020 “Summer of Love” and have made no secret of abandoning areas where the city government does not support the police for metro areas that do.
So the cops blame the city government for rising crime, city governments blame the cops; the press blames the city’s intractable homeless problem, or the nation’s moral failure to treat the addiction crisis it created with the War on Drugs. Republicans blame gangs and Democrats; Democrats blame guns and Republicans.
The real question is: Who do the voters blame?
“Voters weigh fate of embattled San Francisco DA Chesa Boudin,” reported the Associated Press today as people head to the polls: “San Francisco voters fed up with brazen burglaries and auto smash-and-grabs could oust one of the most progressive prosecutors in the country in a rare recall election Tuesday that has bitterly divided Democrats.”
Boudin was only elected in 2019. That he is facing recall in 2022 is indicative of just how bad crime has gotten in San Francisco.
“It’s a vote of general discontent,” said an associate political science professor quoted by the AP. “San Francisco voters are largely very liberal and favorable toward criminal justice reform and yet, in a time when we’ve got a lot of people upset about a lot of things, you don’t want to become the target of that.”
Overall, it’s likely that the Defund the Police movement had relatively little to do with rising crime in America compared to other factors. But fair or not, Defund the Police- and progressives perceived as soft on crime- may be getting the blame this Tuesday in San Francisco, and many Tuesdays to come.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)