Think of this as Volume 17, Number 18 of A-Clue.com, the online newsletter I've written since 1997. Enjoy.
Americans have always favored law and
order, and opposed movements that dismissed it. The Republican Party
spent a generation hammering Democrats for being “soft on crime,”
from Spiro Agnew sneering at the “nattering nabobs” who enabled
student protests in the 1960s to George H.W. Bush and his “Willie
Horton” ad in 1988. Democrats were only able to break through when
they went “yeah-but” on law and order, as with Bill Clinton's
support of “welfare reform” and harsh sentences for drug crimes.
But the last few years have seen a
reversal. Now Democrats stand for law and order. Republicans stand
against it. And once this trend is seen clearly, it's going to
install a “permanent” Democratic majority across the country.
There are all sorts of crimes that
Republicans just don't think are crimes anymore:
Financial crimes? No, if you wear
a suit you can apparently steal all you want. Republicans don't want
laws against it, and they certainly don't want cops on that beat.
Environmental crimes? No,
Republicans don't want laws against polluters, and they certainly
don't want such laws enforced. Whether you're talking about
Deepwater Horizon or the recent explosion in West, Texas, where a
fertilizer plant was sited opposite a subdivision, there's never
anything to see here.
Street crimes? Republican
opposition to all sorts of gun control means they are perfectly
happy letting criminals, even terrorists, get their hands on weapons
of mass murder.
At the heart of all this stupid is the
Republican idea that government is somehow illegitimate. This
anarchic attitude has been part of the ultra-right for ages. It's
what drove Timothy McVeigh to blow up a courthouse in 1995. But now
it has been embraced by the mainstream. It's been embraced
And it's killing the party.
The tipping point on all this is gun
safety. We go all “hair on fire” when two brothers bring
exploding pressure cookers to the marathon, but 1,000 people are
killed by gun violence every month in this country and we do nothing.
We do absolutely nothing. The Senate won't even close obvious
loopholes in gun registration. Nor will they even allow the
government to investigate the impact of illegal guns on our society.
Guns are used by terrorists every day.
They're used by gun runners every day. They're used by criminals
every day. They kill people, by accident and on purpose, every day in
this country. They are the reason we have a higher crime rate than
civilized countries, a higher murder rate, and a higher incarceration
Frustration over this attitude is
starting to show up in the polls. Kelly Ayotte was a fairly popular
freshman Senator until she voted against background checks. Now her
numbers are upside-down. Pat Toomey was a fairly unpopular freshman Senator until he
co-sponsored background checks. Now his poll numbers are on the rise.
What Democrats have yet to do is what
Richard Nixon did explicitly, tie all these issues together into a
blanket charge that Republicans are “soft on crime.” It's a
charge that would now stick, because every branch of Republicanism is
now standing on the side of criminals and against law and order.
The Wall Street Republicans want no
laws against financial shenanigans, a rigged market that's less fair
than an Indian casino. The Main Street Republicans stand against
enforcement of laws against hiring immigrant workers, against
environmental laws, against laws mandating fair treatment of workers
in wages and benefits. The libertarian Republicans stand against drug
laws, against gun laws, against practically any law geared to making
children safer, as intrusion into their perceived freedom.
And all these voices against law and
order grow stronger every day within the Republican Party.
One reason Democrats fail to make the
case they can make may be that it's such a surprising one to them.
Vice President Biden was first elected in 1972, running against the
Nixon landslide, and went through six terms of being called “soft
on crime” by a generation of Republicans. There are just too many
people too familiar with the past to wrap the party's head around the
But someone is going to. And when they
do, law and order Democrats are going to sweep to victory, not just
once but for a generation. Americans like to be safe, they like to
feel they live in a civilized society, and they can take only so much
abuse of the law, so much disorder, before they revolt.
That's how the Obama majority will be
made permanent, through the simple issue of law and order. They have a lot of good news, and some bad news. What they need is some Agnews.