“Rape. Murder. It’s just a shot away, it’s just a shot away.” — Mick Jagger
Republican politics is just a more tightly wound ecosystem than anything on the left. There are a couple of things you can expect from Republicans during election season. They will complain about how extreme Democrats are on gun control. They will complain about how much Democrats spend with the added benefit of blaming inflation on them. However, one thing you can count on is the fact that high crime rates are the fault of the Democrats and being soft on crime.
So, let’s talk about crime. First, let’s take a look at national trends in crime. From 1990 to 2020, the crime rate went down and went down considerably. The two biggest dips in crime occurred during Bill Clinton and Barack Obama’s presidencies. Does this mean they were responsible? Who the heck knows really? What we know is that crime remained fairly flat under George W. Bush overall and went up under Donald Trump.
If we focus on Texas we would see that Texas ranks 11th in the nation in terms of being dangerous. Republicans have controlled both chambers in the Texas Legislature, the governor’s chair, and the lieutenant governor’s chair for nearly 20 years now. However, this hasn’t stopped them from blaming the Democrats for crime.
The big target in Texas are undocumented immigrants. Naturally, that might be something we would want to study. Sure enough, undocumented immigrants actually committed less crime than their native counterparts. In fact, it’s not particularly close. However, that just doesn’t feel like it’s true. The fact that red states are more dangerous than blue states doesn’t feel like it’s true. After all, isn’t New York, Portland, and Chicago a war zone? In actuality, when you look at crime rates (and not total crimes) the exact opposite is true.
Are Republicans to blame for crime? I’m not going there. I do think we need to start acknowledging some common sense facts about crime before we lose our collective heads. First, does anyone think real hardened criminals really think about sentencing before committing a crime? I was going to rob that store, but this Republican judge would give me 20 years instead of 10. Does anyone really believe that criminals actually think that way?
So, if harsher penalties don’t deter crime then what can we attribute an increase of crime to? Obviously, the first thing we need to do is acknowledge whether there is an increase in the first place and what that increase means in context with the data over a longer period of time. Is it statistically significant?
However, statistical significance and other high brow terms like that obviously confuses people. Their eyes glaze over. So, let’s set that aside and assume it is happening. Why? There are more Republican judges nationwide and in Texas than Democratic judges. It’s not sentencing. Our police departments have actually expanded during that time as well. Sure, we could double the police force, but I suspect that isn’t it either.
One thing conservatives seem to think is that allowing everyone unfettered access to guns will lower crime. Ask yourself this question: does that make any logical sense? However, I would suggest something else. People commit crimes when they are angry. They commit crimes when they think they need something they don’t have. They commit crimes because they are desperate. That points to the economy more than values, stiffer penalties, and even easy access to guns. Maybe that’s why crime goes down under Democrats. Maybe that’s why we saw a spike at the end of the last presidency. Of course, all of that doesn’t fit into a 30 second or 60 second television commercial. So, just be afraid. Very afraid.