Conservatives should lead the way in moving the pendulum back toward the rule of law, writes American Moment Board of Advisors Member Josh Hammer in City Journal.
Homicides in the United States increased in 2020 by over 30 percent, on a year-over-year basis. Gun assaults and aggravated assaults also spiked, leading the National Commission on COVID-19 and Criminal Justice to deem the crime surge of 2020 a “large and troubling increase” with “no modern precedent.” Tragically, the early available statistics for 2021 tell a similar tale. On the American domestic front, however, issues such as Covid, the economy, and illegal immigration still garner more headlines than the escalating rates of violent crime.
This blasé attitude did not materialize overnight. Many in today’s leadership class entered the public arena during a decades-long drop in crime that began during the Reagan presidency and continued well into this century. Following the widespread chaos of the 1960s and the harrowing urban crime sprees of the 1970s, “tough on crime” quickly became a popular bipartisan political stance. President Bill Clinton’s highly successful—and now oft-criticized—1994 Crime Bill, which passed the House on a voice vote and the Senate by a 95-4 majority, exemplified this consensus. Confident that the new trend of plummeting crime would continue, many in the silent law-and-order-supporting majority gradually became complacent, implicitly abetting the political opportunism of emergent light-on-crime libertarians and progressives.