Just a brief riff today about Democrats, urgency and “root causes.”
“Root causes,” is a favorite phrase among Democrats. They want to find the root causes of crime, of inflation, of poverty, of everything.
Vice President Kamala Harris wants to discover the root causes of the immigration problem at the southern border. When she visited Central America this summer she said: “My trip . . . was about addressing the root causes. The stories that I heard and the interactions we had today reinforce the nature of these root causes. . . . So the work that we have to do is the work of addressing the cause—the root causes.”
Columnist Peggy Noonan had a fair take on that: “Studying “root causes” is a way of saying you want to look busy while you do nothing.”
Now, that’s not entirely fair. I think most Democrats really do want to get to the heart of a problem. The trouble is that Noonan is right in that this is disastrous political language. Talking about the root causes sounds to voters like you’re punting, like you lack a sense of urgency, like you’re not taking seriously a problem they feel acutely.
People are right to be concerned about crime. Shootings are up 30%. Democrats want to talk about how it’s caused by social isolation and stress due to the pandemic. Maybe it is, but how does that effect public policy? It’s pretty clear by now that COVID isn’t just going away. Like climate change, it needs to be both directly attacked and managed.
But since COVID can’t be eliminated as the root cause of the crime problem, you’ve got to deal with crime head on. That means hiring more cops and locking up the bad guys. Pushing to eliminate cash bail, as is the official position of the Democratic Party, actually isn’t an entirely bad idea based on research, but it’s a horrible idea based on politics. So just stop talking about that and instead emphasize all the cops that got hired or were able to stay on the job because of the $1.9 trillion package the Democrats passed early this year, and talk about the expansion of the COPS program that is in the Build Back Better plan.
Same goes for immigration. The Biden Administration should address the reasons people are fleeing to the U.S. It would be better if their home countries were safe, democratic and offered them a chance at a better life. But for now voters want to see them keeping a flood of immigrants out of the country.
My in-depth research indicates that Congressional elections are held every two years. Further digging has revealed that there is another one of those in about 11 months. Talking about your plan to reduce crime or slow immigration over the next decade won’t cut it. I’m not saying that long-term solutions shouldn’t be pursued. I’m saying Democrats shouldn’t lead with those policies or neglect the tough stuff that needs to be done right now.
The thing about roots is that they’re underground and invisible. People see the plant, and if they notice it withering they want to do something to bring it back to life now.
Democrats need to stop talking like academics and start talking like politicians. Politicians who hear the voters and take their problems seriously.
Welcome to the 295th consecutive day of posts here at YSDA. Thanks for reading and have a good weekend.