Why Biden's tough-on-crime posture is politically 'smart' but 'not particularly principled': journalist

Why Biden's tough-on-crime posture is politically 'smart' but 'not particularly principled': journalist
image via Creative Commons.

President Joe Biden has yet to say whether or not he plans to seek reelection in 2024, but his recent actions certainly indicate that he is. During his passionate 2023 State of the Union address, Biden sounded like he was making a case for giving him a second term — especially when he was boasting about his economic record and all the new jobs that have been created during his two years in the White House. And in a March 2 tweet, the 80-year-old president addressed an issue that Republicans are likely to emphasize in 2024: violent crime.

Biden tweeted, "I support D.C. Statehood and home-rule — but I don't support some of the changes D.C. Council put forward over the Mayor's objections — such as lowering penalties for carjackings. If the Senate votes to overturn what D.C. Council did — I'll sign it."

With that tweet, Biden expressed his willingness to part company with the liberal/progressive wing of his party when it comes to criminal justice issues. Yet he voiced his support for something that is supported by many Democrats and opposed by many Republicans: statehood for the District of Columbia. More often than not, Republicans oppose D.C. statehood as vehemently as they oppose statehood for Puerto Rico.

READ MORE:Why Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot's loss is 'a warning for the other big-city Black mayors': columnist

Biden's tweet came a few days after a major bombshell in Chicago: progressive Democrat Lori Lightfoot's defeat in the deep blue city's 2023 mayoral race. It remains to be seen who will prevail in Chicago's mayoral runoff, but it won't be Lightfoot — the Windy City's first female African-American mayor. Democratic New York City Mayor Eric Adams, a former New York Police Department (NYPD) officer, described Lightfoot's defeat as a "warning sign" for Democrats during an interview with CNN's Dana Bash.

Adams, recalling his own mayoral campaign, told Bash, "I showed up at crime scenes. I knew what New Yorkers were saying. And I saw it all over the country. I think, if anything, it is really stating that this is what I have been talking about. America, we have to be safe."

The "warning sign" that Adams mentioned is one that Democrats are well-aware of in another deep blue northern city: Philadelphia, which is also having a mayoral election in 2023. Philly, like Chicago, is overwhelmingly Democratic. The city has not had a Republican mayor since Bernard Samuel in the early 1950s, but depending on the mood of Philly voters, the city can elect either centrist Democratic mayors (Ed Rendell, Mike Nutter) or liberal ones (such as Wilson Goode and the current mayor, Jim Kenney). And crime is one of the top issues in Philly's 2023 Democratic mayoral primary.

In an article published by the conservative website The Bulwark on March 6, journalist Jill Lawrence (a former reporter for the Associated Press and USA Today) describes Biden's tough-on-crime stand as one that is politically "smart," if "not particularly principled."

"Much as I wish it were, this is not a hard call for Biden and Democrats," Lawrence argues. "Most of them champion statehood for the district, but that's an aspiration for now — while crime is a clear and present danger both on the streets and to their party. A stronger focus on crime in a few House races last year might have kept Democrats in control of that chamber. In 2024, they will be trying to win back the House and hold both the presidency and their Senate majority in a very tough year, and the attacks on crime are already coming."

READ MORE: Legal scholars detail why DC statehood is absolutely constitutional

Lawrence cites Sen. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tennessee) as a perfect example of the type of fear-mongering Democrats will be up against in 2024. The pro-Donald Trump senator, in a fundraising e-mail, wrote, "Admitting D.C. into the union would implode our republic…. Criminals will have free rein over our streets."

Lawrence observes, "More and more senators are now saying they'll vote with the GOP to overturn Washington's criminal code update. As of the weekend, they included at least three Democrats and an allied independent on the 2024 ballot and many 'endangered' lists — Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin, and Angus King of Maine. Several who aren't endangered or up for reelection have made the same judgment or are considering it."

The journalist notes that as a Washington, D.C. resident, she has "never been able to vote for a senator or regular House member."

"I've visited Wyoming and Vermont many times, and I'd love to see Congress overturn most or all of their gun laws," Lawrence writes. "But that's not up to me or Congress. Voters in those states and all states are full-fledged citizens of the United States. They have rights that I don’t have."

Lawrence continues, "At the same time, I have often implored Democrats to be more like Republicans: hard-headed, cold-blooded and sly. McConnellesque, in a word. And Biden's decision, though not particularly principled, is smart strategy for him, Democrats, and the many humane and practical goals they hope to achieve. It means they may live to fight another day for an agenda that reflects my own dreams for my country. I can only hope that statehood is near the top and that this time, it’s an action item — not an empty promise."

READ MORE: Watch: Trump vows to use the federal government to discipline your children

Read The Bulwark's full article at this link.

Understand the importance of honest news ?

So do we.

The past year has been the most arduous of our lives. The Covid-19 pandemic continues to be catastrophic not only to our health - mental and physical - but also to the stability of millions of people. For all of us independent news organizations, it’s no exception.

We’ve covered everything thrown at us this past year and will continue to do so with your support. We’ve always understood the importance of calling out corruption, regardless of political affiliation.

We need your support in this difficult time. Every reader contribution, no matter the amount, makes a difference in allowing our newsroom to bring you the stories that matter, at a time when being informed is more important than ever. Invest with us.

Make a one-time contribution to Alternet All Access, or click here to become a subscriber. Thank you.

Click to donate by check.

DonateDonate by credit card
Donate by Paypal
{{ post.roar_specific_data.api_data.analytics }}
@2022 - AlterNet Media Inc. All Rights Reserved. - "Poynter" fonts provided by fontsempire.com.