Apparently, it took a shift in the polls to wake Joe Biden and the Democrats up to the fact that Americans are unhappy with the violence raging in many big cities. To put it mildly. Biden emerged from his basement bunker to deliver an “unequivocal” condemnation of “violence of every kind by anyone, whether on the left or the right.”

Good for him.

A day late, again to put it mildly.

Of course, this being an election year, he had to take the next step, to hollow out the bipartisan tone of his words by laying all the blame on Trump.

Sorry, that doesn’t pass the sniff test (pun intended).

Trump didn’t write the policies that kept Derek Chauvin on the Minneapolis PD despite a string of complaints. Trump didn’t write the nuisance laws and regulations that are used to treat minorities and the poor as revenue centers. Trump didn’t institute the practice of no-knock warrants that resulted in Breonna Taylor’s death, nor did he initiate the militarization of police departments that has helped proliferate such actions. Trump didn’t tacitly condone the violence that emerged from the protests after George Floyd’s death by refusing to denounce it or even admit it existed.

While this sounds like a defense of Trump in this matter, that’s not the point, and there’s much to criticize. But, as the reason cities continue to be ravaged by vandals and looters? Not hardly.

For that, you have to look to the people running those cities. Mayor Jacob Frey in Minneapolis. Mayor Ted Wheeler in Portland. Mayor Lori Lightfoot in Chicago. Mayor Bill De Blasio of New York. Mayor Jim Kenney of Philadelphia. Mayor Eric Garcetti of Los Angeles. Mayor Sylvester Turner of Houston. And so forth. All members of Biden’s party, and all as the ultimate authors of action or inaction in response to protests.

Not only have these mayors not managed to cull the violent from the peaceful, they haven’t made moves toward the sorts of changes in policing (detailed repeatedly on this blog) that would reduce friction between police and communities. Instead, they decided that blanket reductions in policing activity was the prescription. In New York, where I’ve lived in or near my whole life, the progressives led by De Blasio did away with bail and pre-trial incarceration for all but the most serious crimes. In a wholly predictable fashion, this policy has emboldened low- and mid-level criminals, who know that even if they get busted for a crime, they’ll be back on the street the same day. Perhaps the esteemed Mayor should be forced to take a lesson in moral hazard, the way countless people are forced to take lessons in woke behavior.

But, back to Biden. Joe was criticized for weeks for not speaking against the violence. He and his camp mostly ignored those criticisms, figuring that the selection of “law and order” Kamala Harris as veep would send a sufficient signal to the suburban moms that represent a critical voting bloc. Finally, the polls and a growing rumble from looters’ apologists and defenders that is not playing well with voters forced him to speak, but of course his message remained little more than “I’m not him.”

It’s not hard to make blanket condemnations of violence, vandalism, and looting. It’s not hard to point at your opponent and blame him for every ill under the sun. It’s harder to point at the failures of people on your team, and tell the nation that you’ll fix what they screwed up (even harder? How). “Harder” comes with risks, just as a down-field pass is riskier than a hand-off. But, with his lead shrinking, it’ll take more than just a prevent defense (yes, it’s September, time for football analogies, and indeed, the prevent defense prevents nothing) to carry the team to victory across the next nine weeks.

I’m not the only one banging on the mayors, or Joe’s failure to call them out, today. Several conservative columns are today pointed out this obvious and glaring omission. Welcome to the party – I’ve been making the point of local control and authority here since Floyd’s death, and I reiterate that the fixes that will make a difference need to be put forth by cities’ and states’ lawmakers. The feds have only limited ability in this regard (and even there, we’re at the point where protestors are attacking politicians who are actually pushing remedies).

The continued violence and destruction in our big cities lies squarely at the feet of those cities’ mayors, not only because they’ve failed to do the first job of any politician: public safety, but because they’ve done nothing over the years of their tenure to remedy the root causes of the friction between cops and communities. In fact, they’re often the authors of those root causes. Eric Garner died because New York hungers for cigarette tax money. Breonna Taylor died because no-knock warrants by militarized SWAT teams are a popular “get tough on drugs” Kabuki. George Floyd died because police unions protect their worst members, and these mayors haven’t challenged that blue wall.

Now, we’re in a cycle of escalating violence, where bad guys are running amok, cops are hamstrung even as they are told to deal with that amok, and every shooting is immediately politicized into a left-right, black lives matter-blue lives matter dichotomy, facts notwithstanding.

Is Biden the man to end all this? His message seems to be “elect me, and all will magically quiet down.” But, when he had the opportunity to decry those who’ve mangled matters, to make a bold move, to make a strong play, he punted.

If all this leaves you skeptical of Joe, you’re not alone.

Peter Venetoklis

About Peter Venetoklis

I am twice-retired, a former rocket engineer and a former small business owner. At the very least, it makes for interesting party conversation. I'm also a life-long libertarian, I engage in an expanse of entertainments, and I squabble for sport.

Nowadays, I spend a good bit of my time arguing politics and editing this website.

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