Speed Reads

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How Democrats could win the public debate on crime

The 2022 midterms are right around the corner, and Democrats are "stalling" on the chance to do "something electorally and civically useful about crime" with their majority, argues Slate's Ben Mathis-Lilley. Conflating the issue with social spending, however, could help. 

In general, the left has become increasingly convinced that the "correct political play" is to spend government money to create economic growth, per Mathis-Lilley. Separately, despite appearing "split" as to which political party better handles crime, Americans are likely to side with their preferred caucus on the issue, regardless of messaging. These two truths combined suggest that Democrats have little incentive to hedge on the issue of crime (which they have before, for fear that calls to "defund the police" will embolden Republicans) and every reason to attack the problem's root causes by increasing social spending, something a vast majority of Americans seem to support, Mathis-Lilley notes while citing a The Washington Post/ABC News poll. Essentially, when the conversation shifts from "defunding the police" to "doing other things in high-crime areas" as well, "support goes up significantly."

However, Sens. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) and Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.) are busy delaying Democrats' latest foray into social spending — President Biden's "human infrastructure" plan — by focusing entirely on a bipartisan physical infrastructure deal with Republicans that reject corporate tax hikes popular among Democratic voters, Mathis-Lilley argues. In doing so, the left is, in a "roundabout way," ignoring the actual concerns of the party and potentially turning its back on the opportunity to effect change before 2022.