by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
No, Stephen Eide of the Manhattan Institute is not urging conservatives to adopt the misguided liberal platitudes of Sam Waterston’s character on the popular TV series. Instead Eide explains in a National Review Online column why conservatives should focus more attention on law enforcement issues.
Questions about crime, incarceration, and policing are likely to be more prominent throughout the 2016 campaign than they were Thursday evening, if for no other reason than left-leaning media will push them.
GOP candidates must provide leadership, for the nation and their party, to ensure that, amid a growing lenience in attitudes towards law and order, our priorities remain in order. Despite the gains of recent decades, crime in America remains too high, and addressing that, not our high incarceration rate or police officers’ use of violent force, must remain the primary goal of governments’ public-safety efforts.
Over the past year, intense media scrutiny of violent interactions between police and minorities has led to rioting in Ferguson, Mo., and Baltimore, and to massive protests elsewhere. So long as the New York Times and anti-cop activist groups continue with their provocations, we can be reasonably confident that more violent unrest is to come.
The spectacle of chaos descending on cities long dominated by Democrats obviously plays to the GOP’s advantage. Independent voters in purple-state suburbs don’t like riots. If next summer Philadelphia erupts around the time of the 2016 Democratic national convention, that’s going to be hard for the Left to explain.
But short-term political calculations aside, Republican candidates must provide leadership on this issue. Conservative attitudes toward crime and punishment are notably softer now than they have been in many decades.