Crime Could Elect a Republican in New York


I think we all have a sense of where this is going.

People are alarmed at the cost of things. They are afraid of crime. They don’t like what they see of the schools. These are personal, intimate issues. They have to do with how you live your life. You don’t want to be the parents who can’t buy the kids what they need and the other kids make fun of them. You don’t want the emotional mood of your house dictated by your fear that you can’t make rent. You don’t want to be hit on the head on the way to the store—what would you do if you were carjacked, what’s the right way to act?—and you don’t want to be constantly doubting your kids are safe. And the schools are swept by weirdness of all kinds. Just teach them math and history so they can go on and get a good job and not always be afraid of the rent.

These three things, plus illegal immigration, will defeat a lot of Democrats on Nov. 8, as will one other factor: The Democrats don’t have a plan. This leaves voters thinking: We can’t turn it around with them. Their party is committed to ideologies that are causing or contributing to these problems, and they’re afraid to break free of those commitments because the leftward edges of their base won’t vote for them if they do. So they’re stuck talking doubletalk.

With the Republicans, maybe their plans will work, maybe not, but at least they’re talking about what you’re thinking about, at least there’s a possibility they’ll come through.

I want to talk about crime and New York. The other day this newspaper ran an editorial recalling some recent mayhem. A 62-year-old grandfather was punched in the head at a Bronx subway station and propelled onto the tracks. Last week a man was pushed onto the tracks in Brooklyn, and another onto the tracks in the Bronx. In September, a father of two was fatally stabbed on a Brooklyn train. The suspect was a homeless man who’d been arrested for a subway stabbing last year and was out on “supervised release.” As if we supervise them.

The New York Post reported an 18-year-old woman was stabbed in the hip on Wednesday by a “deranged stranger” at 10 a.m. on a Brooklyn street. A police source told the Post: “It looks like an EDP”—an emotionally disturbed person.

Democrats have long replied that crime statistics are in fact lower than they were decades ago. But decades ago New York was in a sustained crime wave and trying to crawl its way out. The trend lines now are going the wrong way. So when Democrats respond this way, it sounds like, “Who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?”

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Professional criminals and gang members know they have the upper hand: changes in procedure mean they likely won’t be charged; revisions in bail law mean if they are, they’ll be out by lunch.

And there are the mentally ill, who are pretty much dumped on the streets in America. Back in the 1960s and ’70s the forces of modern thinking argued not only that mental hospitals were scandalously run and often Dickensian, but that we had it all wrong: Society itself is so crazy that a “crazy” response was a hallmark of a kind of higher sanity. The insane were our thought leaders. It is true that institutionalization was usually terrible, but the answer can’t be that the insane are left to roam the streets and build tent cities on sidewalks. The answer is to devote more resources to broadening and improving institutionalization. Most politicians know this but feel they can’t turn the ship around, so they ignore the issue and just do press conferences where they say moving things about the little girl who was murdered.

Meanwhile, the mentally ill often go off their meds when they’re in the mood. Manic depressives miss the high of the manic episodes, schizophrenics miss their visions. So they go off, and go crazy, and grandpa winds up on the subway tracks.

You can calculate what a street criminal will do, and factor it in. Don’t walk on the empty street at night; don’t wear the gold Rolex when dining at an outside restaurant, the scooter gangs will get you. It’s harder to predict what an insane person will do, which is why everyone feels at their mercy.

People have no confidence—none—that “the authorities” will do anything to make the situation better. The district attorneys’ offices are in the grip of a legal ideology that views inequity and racism as the primary and essential problem, and once we solve them we can then focus on street crime.

This ideology owns

Twitter,

the Slack channels of major media companies and the departments of all major universities and their law schools. So it is formidable. It has been winning since the 2010s. But in sheer numbers its advocates punch way above their weight. What anticrime voters need to realize is they have mass. They are the overwhelming majority—in both parties. They can fight back. This Election Day I think they will.

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That is the context of New York’s startling gubernatorial race, with Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin up against incumbent Democrat Kathy Hochul. Ms. Hochul held a comfortable lead in a state where Democratic registration is twice that of Republicans, and Mr. Zeldin long ago wrapped himself around

Donald Trump’s

engine and voted not to certify

Joe Biden’s

2020 electoral votes. This was in line with feeling in his district but not the state, which Mr. Trump lost by 23 points.

Yet suddenly it’s a real race, and the reason is crime. In the debate this week, Mr. Zeldin talked about it as if he cared. When Ms. Hochul mentioned gun control, Mr. Zeldin lit up. No, he said, it’s not only guns: “You have people who are afraid of being pushed in front of oncoming subway cars, they’re being stabbed, beaten to death on the street with hammers. Go talk to the Asian-American community and how it’s impacted them with the loss of lives. . . . We need to be talking about all of these other crimes, but instead Kathy Hochul is too busy patting herself on the back, ‘Job well done.’ ”

He said he’d declare a crime emergency from day one, as we did with Covid, and remove progressive district attorneys.

It was electric. Watch that race.

There was nothing endearing about Mr. Zeldin, who is deliberately growly and grim. He has this in common with a lot of the male post-Trump-presidency generation of GOP politicians: There is a sense of unease in them, something at once aggressive and furtive. They glower and simmer, grrr grrr, as if it’s a concession to your fancy ideas of civilization to be personable. Here an angry conservative will say, “Our country’s a dumpster fire and you want charm? You want winsome?”

No, I’d like normal. Politics is a game of addition. Attract those who don’t equate a glower with wisdom. What does good nature cost you?

We should be able to conduct our lives without a constant air of menace. Our politics, also.

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