Republicans: The tough on crime party* (*This offer does not apply to crime.)

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Dear Rebecca:

Remember Donald Trump at the 2016 Republican National Convention?

Our Convention occurs at a moment of crisis for our nation. The attacks on our police, and the terrorism in our cities, threaten our very way of life. Any politician who does not grasp this danger is not fit to lead our country.

Americans watching this address tonight have seen the recent images of violence in our streets and the chaos in our communities. Many have witnessed this violence personally, some have even been its victims.

I have a message for all of you: the crime and violence that today afflicts our nation will soon come to an end. Beginning on January 20th 2017, safety will be restored.

How about his inauguration?

But for too many of our citizens, a different reality exists: Mothers and children trapped in poverty in our inner cities; rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape of our nation; an education system, flush with cash, but which leaves our young and beautiful students deprived of knowledge; and the crime and gangs and drugs that have stolen too many lives and robbed our country of so much unrealized potential.

This American carnage stops right here and stops right now.

This echoes decades of successful GOP campaigning as the “tough on crime” party.

You can argue that Republicans only mean this rhetoric when it can be used against blacks and Muslims. I wouldn’t argue. But let’s leave that convo for another day: We’re still faced with the matter of trying to stop the slaughter.

I still believe, as I wrote earlier today, that we should give conservatives a chance to lead on this issue. If they can come up with action that reduces mass shootings while preserving what they believe to be their Second Amendment rights, I’m down with it.

But if they fail to deliver that plan – if, as in previous massacres, they sit on their hands – it’s time to make them pay politically. Let me propose that the way to do it is not to make it a gun issue, but a crime issue.

Think about the ad:

“Representative Doe said it was time for the school shootings to stop. But when it came time for action, what did he and Republicans do? Nothing. John Doe: Soft on crime, bad for Florida.”

And, yes, for good measure, slap a picture of John Doe’s face next to Nikolas Cruz’s.

Ugly? Yeah. I hate it. But politicians respond to incentives. Pain is an incentive. Instead of pointing out that crime is actually relatively low these days, it’s time to depict the GOP as the soft-on-crime party. And to do it relentlessly.

–Joel

Author: joeldermole

Joel Mathis is a freelance writer who lives in Lawrence, Kansas with his wife and son. He spent nine years as a syndicated columnist, co-writing the RedBlueAmerica column as the liberal half of a point-counterpoint duo. His honors include awards for best online commentary from the Online News Association and (twice) from the City and Regional Magazine Association.

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