During this election season, the most frequent attack you hear from Republican candidates is that Democrats are soft on crime. Elect Republicans, they say, and rid the country of crime. Think again. Let’s review the facts.
A study released from Third Way found that per capita murder rates in 2020 were 40 percent higher in states that voted for Donald Trump than in those that voted for Biden. The study also found that eight of the 10 states with the highest per capita murder rates in 2020 voted Republican in every presidential election in the century.
Next, Republicans repeatedly have opposed gun control, allowing people who should never have access to weapons to acquire them. Soon after he became president, Trump rolled back an Obama-era regulation and made it easier for people with mental illnesses to purchase guns. Several Republican candidates running for office propose ways to weaken gun laws if they get elected. Florida Senator Marco Rubio voted against the bipartisan Safer Communities Act which was the first new legislation on gun policy to pass Congress in roughly three decades. And most Republicans are against raising the legal age to purchase guns to age 21. Many of the recent horrific shootings have been done by males under the age of 21. (Remember Texas Senator Ted Cruz’s solution for reducing school shootings—lock all but one door and post guards at schools.)
In addition to an uptick in gun-related crime, hate speech has become mainstream, courtesy of Trump and many of his hand-picked Republican candidates. It is not their country, it is your country, they say. Rants against Jews, immigrants, and minorities in general, encourage violence and motivate others to assume that such acts are justified. Multiple studies have indicated that crime is much more rampant from right-wing extremist groups—Proud Boys, Oath Keepers, and others–than from left-wing extremist groups such as Antifa. Data shows that right wing groups are more dangerous and much more active.
Finally, let us not forget that many of these so-called “law and order” candidates encouraged the attack on the Capitol on January 6. Some marched with them. Some helped organize the insurrection. And then there was Missouri Senator Josh Hawley’s famous fist-pump to the perpetrators who killed police, chanted “hang Mike Pence,” wore swastikas, smashed windows, and desecrated the Capitol. On many occasions, Trump has called these perpetrators patriots, and he has promised to pardon them should he get re-elected. Tough on crime, you say?
Democrats are not soft on crime. In the coming days until the mid-term elections, Democrats must do a much better job of changing the narrative and communicating their positions to voters. Some Democratic candidates, like Florida senate candidate Val Demings, are starting to discuss solutions to reduce crimes such as community funding intervention initiatives rather than simply echoing their Republican opponents’ claims that they will be tough on crime. Democrats must continue to do so. It will be a crime if they do not.
Maria Grant was principal-in-charge of a federal human capital practice at an international consulting firm. While on the Eastern Shore, she focuses on writing, reading, piano, gardening, and nature.