Monday, April 27, 2015


It's clear that we're just going to keep going through this awful cycle -- an appalling and clearly unjustified black man's death at the hands of cops, followed by publicity and outrage, then a local response in which the rage boils over, blood flows and property gets destroyed. Nobody wins, nothing improves, repeat ad infinitum. Baltimore now; who knows where next.

But to bring this back to the sort of thing I usually write about: Sooner or later, this is going to influence national politics -- and not for the better. Sooner or later, right-wing politicians are going to rediscover the language of "law and order" that elected Richard Nixon twice and that gave us racially divisive politicians, of both parties, such as Ed Koch and Rudy Giuliani in my city and Frank Rizzo in Philadelphia. And the new round of "get-tough" pols might be worse than the ones from my younger days -- many of those guys, at least, had some lingering fondness for the New Deal or the Kennedys. The new crop will probably combine "get-tough" attitudes and Koch economics. It's not going to be pleasant.

In fact, I think it's likely that somebody in the 2016 Republican presidential field is going to rediscover the old "law and order" language. It was always politically effective -- but then crime declined dramatically in he last twenty years. It can come back with a vengeance, though, if white Americans regularly turns on the news and sees shop windows smashed and cop cars burning.

I actually think the cycle of police brutality and community rage could be much more of a threat to the Democrats' chances of holding the White House than any email server or huge check written to the Clinton Foundation. If inner cities are burning, Republicans aren't going to pass up the opportunity to stoke fear and thus build tribal solidarity.

I understand if you're so outraged at what happened to Freddie Gray (and Tamir Rice and Eric Garner and all the rest) that you think what I'm missing the point. All I can say is: Yes, I get the point. Outrageous things are happening to black people at the hands of cops. But violence in response to brutality is, among other things, going to make Republicans' jobs much easier in 2016. I was born in 1959. We oldsters spent a lot of years watching white politicians exploit black anger. It can happen again, and it probably will.


Mark and Noris said...

I have to start with, I am checking in daily now. You are on my list.

Just joking, its because I like your writing. You write a lot of things that I would write if I wasnt a lazy old guy.

As being an old, I do remember the lawnorder era. It should be known as the "Oppress more anyone who protest oppression era.

Why is this typing box so tiny..?

Cheers, I will be back soon..

Robert said...

There's no difference between burning the city you live in to the ground and voting for a Republican.

Philo Vaihinger said...

Phooey. Opportunistic rioting and crime by the canaille.

flipyrwhig said...

You know where else a protest over mistreatment was hijacked into a violent display that led to greater unrest? Benghazi. That'll be the Republican meta-campaign: Democrats let Those People run amok and make the world a more dangerous place. Let's not forget that Ted Cruz was already saying the world is on fire.

Phil Freeman said...

I was worried you were going to have trouble coming up with a reason Democrats are gonna be doomed in 2016. I shouldn't have been.

Victor said...

Sadly, as I watched Baltimore burn, I had the same thoughts.

I was born in 1958, so I saw the same crap you've seen, Steve.

All we need is for "Occupy Wall Street" to reappear, and we'll have some of the same elements that got Nixon elected:
DFH's, and black people rioting in the streets of cities.

biz5th said...

A much different electorate today than 20 years ago. The law and order strategy only works on a national scale if the Obama coalition stays home on election day.