By Don Mohler
There’s This: The intersection of “crazy meets stupid” becomes more alarming day by day. Over the past week, Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Green confused gestapo with gazpacho, and the Republican National Committee censured Republicans Adam Kinzinger and Liz Cheney for daring to participate in a Congressional committee investigating the insurrection that took place on January 6, 2021. At the same time, the RNC declared that the violent insurrection that attempted to overthrow the results of a United States election and killed several police officers was “legitimate political discourse.” Those two things really happened. But as they say on TV, “Wait, there’s more.”
In late January, a school board in Tennessee banned the Pulitzer Prize-winning graphic novel, Maus, from being taught in the eighth grade. The book in question depicts Jews as mice and Nazis as cats. But there were a couple of nasty words and few naked images (of mice we should add) in the book, and that was just a bridge too far for the fine folks in McMinn County. As one observer said after watching the Board meeting , “It’s as if they were saying, why can’t they teach a nicer Holocaust?”
Meanwhile in Florida, Governor (and MAGA wannabe) Ron DeSantis is supporting legislation that would ban the discussion of gender identity and sexual orientation in primary schools. I guess the idea is that if we just don’t say “gay” there will be no “gay.” Who knew? And is that what we would really want? The images of the young men and women testifying before the legislature about the horrific ramifications of this bill was heartbreaking. But Republicans in the Sunshine State were not moved.
Are you sensing a pattern of crazy and stupid? Ladies and gentlemen, this is your Republican Party in 2022.
And Then There’s That: So given all of the above, the Democrats should be gaining ground and feeling better about the mid-term election this fall, right? Well, not so fast. You see for some reason the Democratic Party, continues to be the gang that just can’t shoot straight. They still don’t get what Republicans not only get in spades, but also know how to weaponize: Americans are moved by issues of the heart and not by wonky policy discussions emanating from this or that think tank. And what issue is number one- -let me repeat, number one- – on every voter’s mind right now? Crime on our streets and in our schools. I don’t need a focus group to tell me that, and neither do you. Listen to your neighbors. Talk to your cousins. Take some time to talk to the African American grandmother in the city who is lovingly raising her grandchildren. They all tell the same story. They are afraid. They think society is spinning out of control. And they don’t think that anyone in power hears them or cares. They feel hopeless, and hopeless is a recipe for disaster.
This should be an easy win for Democrats. I mean, come on. Republicans are the party that supports insurrectionists over the police officers who tried to protect democracy on January 6. Republicans chose the Proud Boys over the FOP. Game. Set. Match. Nope! Democrats have their own issue: they are paralyzed by the crime issue. When CVS closed multiple pharmacies in San Francisco because criminals were just helping themselves to whatever was on the shelves and walking right by police officers on the way out, every Democrat in the nation should have gone ballistic. They should have called on the Mayor, Police Chief, and State’s Attorney to end the madness that day. They did not. And they did not because Democrats rightfully remain appalled at the police violence that we’ve seen far too often on the streets of our nation. That violence is horrific, it continues, and it cannot be tolerated. But for some reason, Democrats have been deluded into thinking that being “tough on crime” is the same as supporting police brutality. That is absurd. Democrats never talk about crime without always wanting to talk about “root causes” first. Hint for my Democratic friends: that recurring theme makes people crazy. All but the fringe know that poverty and racism are real and must be addressed if we are truly to be an exceptional nation. But once again, let’s walk and chew gum at the same time. We can work to create a more just society, but we also need to get criminals off the street. Don’t be afraid to be seen as a “law and order” candidate. In every nook and cranny of this nation, people like law and order.
The demand for police accountability does not mean that we cede our streets to the bad guys. We may not like it, but there are bad folks out there, and they cannot bring the rest of us to our knees. Everyone needs to be safe in school. Everyone needs to be able to walk to the snowball stand or corner store. Everyone should be able to sit on the front porch, rock a baby, and not have to worry about a stray bullet changing their life forever. Police should not be assassinated while sitting in their squad cars. (I know that many of you will probably ask, “Isn’t this all about guns? Of course you are right, but that is an issue that we just don’t seem to have the will to address in this Wild-West of a nation. So I prefer to focus on what we can control.) Crime on our streets is an issue of the heart, and it is the topic of discussion at every dinner table in every neighborhood — in the city, on the farm, and in soccer mom land.
If Democrats want to be a serious party and give voters a reason to reject the madness that is today’s Republican Party, they need to own this issue. They need to let people know that they get it. They want police on the street, walking the beat. Whoever gets this issue right, whoever offers a clear vision for a safer America, will take a big step forward to winning in 2022 and beyond. To paraphrase Howard Beale in Network, the people are mad as hell, and they aren’t going to take it anymore.
Don Mohler is the former Baltimore County Executive and President and CEO of Mohler Communication Strategies. He may be reached at email@example.com.
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