Often, it can feel like Democrats abandon debates about crime under a false assumption that they can’t win them. But a couple of progressive Democrats are showing the rest of the party what it looks like to go toe-to-toe with Republicans on crime and public safety.
One of them is Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor in Georgia. As The Associated Press reported, Abrams and her team are looking to make tightening gun laws and stemming gun crime a focus of her campaign. Some areas of Georgia have experienced a surge in violent crime over the past two years, thanks in large part to the proliferation of guns.
In recent months, Abrams has publicly tied gun policies backed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp, a Republican, to crime and public safety issues in the state.
California Gov. Gavin Newsom is another progressive Democrat who’s not ceding ground in the crime debate to Republicans.
Last week, Newsom announced he’d made an account on former President Donald Trump’s struggling social media platform Truth Social. His first post? A video addressing the “red state murder problem,” referencing data showing that states that voted for Trump in 2020 accounted for eight of the 10 highest murder rates that year.
“I know we’re all on this platform in search for the ‘truth,’ but the truth is, I’ve not been able to find a simple explanation for the fact that we have a red state murder problem,” Newsom said in the video.
To many progressives online, this was a welcomed troll attempt by a figure increasingly known for publicly and proudly opposing right-wing policies. Democrats should heed Abrams’ and Newsom’s strategies here, because when it comes to policies designed to curb crime, they have the high ground over conservatives.
Progressive social welfare policies like providing affordable housing, accessible education, health care and supplementary income have proven to be deterrents from crime. On the other hand, lax gun measures supported by conservatives — like the gun show loophole — have been proven to drive crime throughout the United States and the Western Hemisphere. And studies have repeatedly shown that conservative-backed, “tough on crime” policies like capital punishment and harsh mandatory minimum sentences don’t actually reduce crime or recidivism rates.
Abrams and Newsom are showing how Democrats can — and must — rebut Republican talking points about crime. Progressives need to frame the debate around the facts, which favor them. If they don’t, Republicans will spin their own stories about crime and fancifully cast themselves as saviors.