The Outstater: But Where Are the Republicans?

August 27, 2020

“‘I think this (rioting) is a blind spot for Democrats. I think Democrats are ignoring this problem or hoping that it will go away, and it’s not going to go away,’ he added before arguing the violence needs to be addressed by Biden before the election.” — CNN anchor Don Lemon quoted by The Hill, Aug. 26, 2020

THE RECENT VIDEOS of restaurant customers being surrounded and threatened by protesters appear to be sticking in the collective political conscience. That is not because they are particularly fearsome in themselves — there is more violent riot footage, or, if you prefer, more mostly peaceful protesting.

It’s because it is coming home.

Although few of us would purposefully put ourselves in the middle of a 2 a.m. riot in a burning section of the city, none of us is prepared to quit taking our family out to shop or eat. We are not barricading our homes. Not yet.

In any case, it is not too much to expect assurance from our local political leaders on how they may or may not react. Political mouths here, though, are zipped tight.

For Democrats, it may have been a tactical matter up to this point. The other party is supposed to be the law-and-order party, the protectors of private property. 

Exactly, so where have the local Republicans been? Where are they now?

Our governor issued a hand-wringing 3,000-word rehashing of civil-rights history and dreamy aspirations. But the Republican president of our city council hasn’t said a word except to remind us of how much he has done for affordable housing. Nor have the other leading Republicans on the city council, several of whom are mayoral hopefuls. Nor has the county GOP chairman.

It is reasonable, though, to call for their position on recent events — events, again, that are at the top of everyone’s mind. It is reasonable to want to know what to expect when we take our family out to eat or when we sit on our front porch.

It is called public safety, a huge part of the municipal budget. We deserve specificity.

So, can we expect the restaurant manager to feel confident in calling the police if his patrons are being threatened? Will the police come in sufficient force to disperse a menacing crowd? Can we expect those who refuse to disperse to be arrested? Can we expect those justly charged — all of them — to be prosecuted even if it strains the energy and resources of the local prosecutor’s office? Even if it is operationally inconvenient? Is private property an abstract?

Difficult questions, to be sure, but there once were basic civic expectations, for which we paid taxes, for which we assigned authority through the local democratic process.

Are we on our own now? 

We need to know that as well. It takes time to arrange for new leadership. — tcl


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