According to The Washington Post, The New York Times and other pro-Democrat media, Republican candidates are using the crime issue to exploit racial stereotypes (a la Willie Horton) and send out racist "dog whistles."
The real problem isn't racism, however, but the fact that just about every position Democrats have taken over the past several years has made crime worse.
Take your pick: tolerating and even apologizing for rioting and arson during the "mostly peaceful" Black Lives Matter protests, "reform" efforts that reduced or even eliminated cash bail, decisions to stop enforcing certain laws and downgrading the punishment for others, the demonization of police that led to "de-policing," understaffing, and devastation of morale in police forces across the country. All of it can be reasonably laid at the feed of Democratic officeholders, in particular Democratic mayors, prosecutors, and city council members in Democratic-controlled urban areas.
As Charles Lipson recently noted, "the Democratic Party has associated itself with the notion that 'social justice' and 'racial equality' require fundamentally changing policing and incarceration. The problem, they say, is police, not criminals."
"Defund the police" wasn't some Republican fantasy; to the contrary, there were few Democrats in the wake of the murder of George Floyd who didn't endorse policies that had the effect of making it harder for police to do their job, which is, lest we forget, to combat crime.
Those negative attitudes toward the police and law enforcement might make policing and law enforcement more difficult, and thus give more leeway to criminals in a way that increases crime, seems obvious to anyone but progressives. That those attitudes, when detected by the public, might lead to negative consequences at the ballot box also appears to have escaped notice; hence the desperate need for Democrats to now discredit criticism on crime by calling the critics racist.
Given the way Democrats increasingly frame the issue -- if you express concern about rising crime rates you are talking racism in code -- the question also arises, logically speaking, of how you can talk about crime without being a racist.
The provision of security is the first task of government, since we turn to collective action in the form of the state and its agents to protect us from transgression on our lives and property from other human beings. Of all the "collective goods" government provides, security through policing of various sorts will always be the most important.
To discourage in any way expressions of concern over rising crime, or even talking about crime, is to thus prohibit Americans from talking about the business of government itself; the primary reason for why it is established.
One wonders, in this sense, how many other basic functions of government will be declared off-limits for discussion if Democrats fail to effectively perform them, and how the racist accusation can be made to fit each in its own way.
The broader point is that Democrats, with a record they are incapable of persuasively defending, don't want to talk about crime (or inflation, or illegal immigration), and they don't want you talking about it either.
There is, in such thinking, also a revealing failure to acknowledge that blacks are, by a hugely disproportionate margin, more likely to be the victims of crime, and thus those most in need of that basic security function performed by government.
Progressive Democrats tend to be well-educated (or at least well-credentialed) whites who live considerable distance from inner cities that are disproportionately minority and feature staggeringly higher crime rates. The price for their virtue signaling is, in effect, more Black crime victims in places they never tread.
A strange relationship is thus established -- you can't talk about crime because it's racist, although Blacks suffer the most from crime. Democratic accusations on the crime issue would suggest that they are actually quite content to see crime rates rise to whatever levels so long as they don't suffer the consequences politically and it is only Blacks who are left to suffer the consequences daily.
It is ironic and revealing that the core leftist assumption of Blacks as perpetual victims is so suddenly discarded when it comes to Black victims of crime (precisely because it doesn't fit the white supremacy/racism narrative).
Crime always becomes the most important political issue when it fails to be adequately contained because preserving order and security is the primary reason we engage in politics and have government; rising crime therefore reflects a basic failure of governance.
When that failure is largely the result of deliberate policy choices dictated by radical ideological beliefs, the party to which those making the choices belong will be appropriately blamed. And when they then seek in an insulting fashion to convince Americans that their fears regarding crime are exaggerated and the crime imaginary, the electoral punishment will be even more severe.
There is no denying that Republicans have put up some dubious candidates this election cycle, but it might not matter tomorrow if enough voters have decided that voting Democrat essentially means voting for more crime (along with more inflation, more illegal immigration and more of much else that no normal person should want more of).
Freelance columnist Bradley R. Gitz, who lives and teaches in Batesville, received his Ph.D. in political science from the University of Illinois.