From San Francisco to D.C. local officials are facing tough questions from voters about rising crime.
According to no less an authority than California’s Governor Gavin Newsom, California politics and policies are the, “Antidote for America.”
Some progressives might certainly agree, especially in wake of the Supreme Court’s Friday decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
The controversial move, which has riled progressives to a fury, thrilled conservatives and left many independents and moderates wondering if they’ll ever feel completely at home in either major political party, kicks the question of abortion back to each individual state to decide.
Each state will now, according to its democratically and duly elected representatives, set a balance between abortion access and restrictions.
This makes sense to some, who point out that the same is true of members of the European Union. Each EU nation sets its own rules for abortion; some nations have much stricter abortion restrictions than the U.S. post-Roe, some have fewer restrictions. Very few are completely unrestricted- abortion on-demand, for any reason, at any time.
In many ways, allowing U.S. states to make their own rules about abortion is in keeping with the European Union. After all, the population of some U.S. cities is much larger than that of some entire European nations.
France has about 67 million people; Germany 83 million. Belgium has 11.56 million people; Switzerland, 8.6 million. Sweden has about 10 million people; Finland and Norway have about 5 million people each.
England has a population of about 55 million; Canada, 33 million.
The United States of America, as per our last census, has 330 million people living in it.
The chances of all of them agreeing about anything is slim to none, to say nothing of agreeing on an issue as contentious as abortion.
California alone has a population of nearly 40 million people. Texas has 28.64 million; Florida, 21 million. New York City alone has a population of 18.67 million people.
The framers of the U.S. Constitution foresaw the difficultly of governing such a large, spread-out and diverse nation such as this one from the top down. As such, any powers not specifically granted to the federal government by the constitution were reserved to the states.
It is said today, and was probably said during colonial times, too, that all politics, all elections, are local.
That is certainly going to be true for abortion access in the coming years. But it is already true in many ways. States like California are already full of so-called “sanctuary cities,” which are acting in open defiance of federal immigration laws to which local elected officials, representing voters, object.
Cities populated by progressives have elected progressive prosecutors, who refuse to prosecute certain laws they believe to be unfair, unjust, or overly punitive, even ignoring sentencing minimums in some cases. This essentially renders the decriminalized laws null. If something is illegal, but no one is ever prosecuted for it, is it really even illegal?
As this is already the local political reality, elected officials in progressive areas will work hard to make certain abortion access isn’t threatened by the end of Roe. Many liberal states, and even some conservative ones, have such provisions already included in their bylaws.
On the issue of abortion as on so many other issues- for U.S. progressives anyway- the politics of California may seem an antidote to everything wrong with America.
To California’s detractors, its homelessness crisis, high crime, and astronomical cost of living combine to make California a failing state.
The average cost of a house in California is upwards around $850,000- well out of reach for most working-class U.S. families. The cost of gasoline in California is now currently twice that of the national average.
Newsom and other wealthy Californians may not have any trouble with these numbers. Working-class people in California do, which is why California lost one congressional seat last census, and should have lost two. Those fleeing California have made no secret of why.
The cost of living is unforgivably high, but the cost of living in California has always been stratospheric. Tax rates are punishing; but California taxes have always been so.
What has declined in California, from LA to San Francisco, rapidly and shockingly, is public safety.
Crime and homelessness in California have reached such epic proportions, a progressive city prosecutor was just hounded out of his job via a recall by fed up citizens…in midnight blue San Francisco, with nary a conservative in sight. In nearby Los Angeles, which has been experiencing the same issues, progressive DA George Gascon may soon face a similar fate.
Skyrocketing crime has communities trembling from coast to coast.
Elsewhere in the nation where crime has grown out of control, voters have already expressed support for a return to the “tough on crime” criminal justice policies of yesteryear.
Former police officer and moderate Eric Adams was recently elected Mayor of New York on a promise to clean up the newly crime-ridden streets. He won every borough but Manhattan.
In Chicago, 25 people were shot over the weekend, 5 fatally, in a scene eerily like the one last weekend (61 people shot in Chicago, 10 fatally) and the weekend before that (31 people shot, six fatally). And the one before that.
A series of heartbreaking vignettes keep pouring out of Chicago; the shooting death of a little girl a few weeks ago as she crossed the street holding her mother’s hand in broad daylight; an 8-month old baby, shot in the head and killed while strapped into her carseat Friday night at 6:45 p.m.
“One person was killed and another wounded after gunmen opened fire on a CTA bus Sunday afternoon in West Garfield Park,” reported the Chicago Sun Times on June 27. “About 1:20 p.m., two armed males entered the bus in the 300-block of South Pulaski Road, walked to the back and began shooting at two people on board, police said.”
Chicagoans are angry, and anxious to blame someone- anyone- for the crimewave saturating their city like a plague and they are hardly alone. A concerned citizens brigade from Seattle to Philadelphia is demanding more accountability from local lawmakers in the run up to November elections.
In D.C., Mayor Muriel Bowser just managed to secure the Democratic Party nomination, which all but guarantees her reelection in the deep-blue District, but even her campaign struggled to answer questions about skyrocketing D.C. crime.
Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms has already indicated she will not be seeking reelection, in spite of only serving one term. She did not mention a tough race, or tough questions about crime; in fact she didn’t give much of a reason for dropping out of the race at all.
Analysts on both sides of the aisle have speculated, however, that Bottoms would be running again if she thought she could win.
Concerns about rising crime are likely to play an outsize role in the 2022 midterm elections. In every state and every city experiencing the savage bite of crime and lawlessness, elected officials are going to be pressed for answers, even by very progressive media outlets.
Progressive voters are going to be demanding action on much more than abortion rights.
Getting out in front of this rising crime problem may mean the difference between a triumphant reelection and an ignominious recall.
(contributing writer, Brooke Bell)