The NY Times headline on August 27th reads, “With Wisconsin Unrest as Backdrop, Republicans Intensify Law-and-Order Message.” That is, the GOP is painting the Dems as weak on crime and tolerant of anarchy.
Such a stance becomes the height of irony when a rifle-toting, police-loving Orange supporter kills innocent protesters on the sidewalk. A 17-year-old male, illegally carrying a long gun (he is too young to have such a weapon) walked past police officers in Kenosha, Wisconsin, and is suspected of subsequently shooting and killing at least one person. There is video of him as he fled the scene, and a recording of a voice saying, “I just killed someone.” He was hiding in his mother’s apartment when he was later apprehended. This teen participated in several police cadet programs and is seen cheering in the front row of a rally for the Orange One in January. This incident is not the first time a person with that affiliation has wreaked havoc and committed murder. Indeed, the Orange One himself has been known to exhort followers to assault those who protest his policies, and offer to pay the ensuing legal fees.
For a candidate who is running on a law-and-order ticket, the Occupant has a problematic history of skirting both the letter of the law and its spirit. He ended up resolving the fraud suit surrounding his University by ponying up a large settlement; he used campaign funds to pay off a porn star; he attempted to extort the Ukrainian government for his own gain. He most likely had no legal authority to send federal agents into Portland and other cities; and his usage of the Secretary of Defense as a prop for his Bible publicity stunt, while tear-gassing innocent protesters, violates at least the spirit of the law. Add to these examples and many more, his total disregard for the stricture against making a profit from his position. He has refused to divest himself of business interests, and his empire continues to rake in the money from foreign dignitaries’ stays at his hotel in D.C., among other venues.
In sum, clearly, this Resident gives not a flying fig about acting lawfully. The maintenance of order has become a victim of the Orange juggernaut, as well. One has only to glance at the chaos resulting from his failure to competently address the pandemic and resulting hardship to the country to see that he revels in knocking all the dominoes down. Divisiveness is his byword, spewing hatred and discord is his favored tactic.
How execrable, then, is his pandering to the idea of the law, his unswerving support of militarized police forces. Especially when, if he were to lose the election, he might very well find himself being perp-walked by some of the officers in blue on whom he dotes.
The difficult question facing the Dems is how and whether they will counter the criticism and contempt being heaped upon them by the GOP. The attack ads have been particularly brutal, promising that, should Biden take over the White House, 911 calls will go unanswered. Uncle Joe could trying pointing to his uber-harsh 1992 crime bill, but doing so will cost him minority votes, as the legislation has been seen as increasing the incarcerations of people of color in its wake.
One possible measure the Dems might take would be to recall another famous law-and-order campaign, that of Richard Nixon in 1968, and then splice in snippets from the Watergate hearings, with the tag line, “Look how that turned out.” In the end, though, perhaps the most telling weapon the Dems have is the last three-and-a-half years. After all, in 1968, the race riots and other upheavals happened on another incumbent’s watch, making it easier for Nixon to promise to restore calm. For the Orange One, however, there’s no one to blame but himself. The Dems need to hit that point hard, hit it continually, stay on message, and remain as ruthless about their goal of winning as the other side. If they don’t, there will be more 17-year-olds shooting bystanders in Kenoshas across the country.