Most Americans want to live in safe, orderly communities. They see the increase in homicides, thefts, and other serious crimes and want serious offenses prosecuted and serial offenders taken off the streets.
Two Democrats have other plans.
Jumaane Williams is currently the New York City public advocate, making him one of the most powerful elected officials in the country’s largest city. He recently launched a campaign to become the next governor of the Empire State in 2022. Williams is a Democratic Socialist who, after the death of George Floyd, advocated for defunding the police. Like Democratic Missouri Rep. Cori Bush, he wants fewer public safety resources for his constituents, yet he receives a police security detail while he travels throughout the city.
What sets Williams apart from even his most radical peers on the left is where he lives. The man who wants militarized police out of black and brown Brooklyn neighborhoods — like his old stomping ground in Flatbush — moved onto the Fort Hamilton U.S. Army Garrison in a much safer section of the borough. The police defunder and criminal defender spends 24 hours a day surrounded by cops and soldiers.
That type of blatant hypocrisy has become a staple on the left, especially with respect to criminal justice. So have terrible ideas that prioritize ideology over public safety.
One recent example is Democratic Michigan Rep. Rashida Tlaib’s support of the BREATHE Act and its provision to close federal prisons within 10 years. When asked about the potential downsides of her proposal, Tlaib, also a Democratic Socialist, gave a rambling non-answer. Tlaib, along with every other member of the Squad, is a member of the Justice Democrats political action committee. Tlaib never says how justice would be served by releasing over 150,000 convicted felons into communities far from the one in which she currently resides.
This phenomenon is a common theme in our national and local politics. I suggest Americans across the political spectrum adopt what I call the “You First” doctrine. Voters would employ “You First” principles to evaluate political candidates on their willingness to hold themselves to the same rules they set for constituents. It is the political version of a maxim I employ in both my personal life and cultural analysis: never promote, encourage, defend, or justify anything in someone else’s house that I wouldn’t accept in mine.
Putting this into practice would be one way to hold politicians accountable for the bad ideas they impose on voters. When a candidate says he wants to abolish the police, voters should ask whether he would forgo his security detail and put his number on a “Do Not Respond” list on file with local 911 operators.
COVID policies would follow a similar pattern. Governors and local executives who shut down businesses and keep workers from earning a living should be pressured to give up their own salaries. No person who takes bread out of another man’s mouth should have the luxury of eating a four-course meal while doing so.
The same principle would apply in education. Any politician who stands in the way of school choice — whether an expansion of charter schools, voucher programs, or homeschool options — should be forced to answer when they plan on enrolling their child in the worst-performing school in their district. Some local legislatures may go the extra mile and adopt that as official policy. No longer will people like the Obamas and Clintons be able to rob low-income families of opportunities for a quality education while they send their own children to private elementary schools that cost more than many colleges.
My favorite would be in the area of race. White liberals spend a lot of time, talent, and treasure lecturing the country about the importance of “listening to black voices.” Funny how they never take steps to give up their microphones. The “You First” doctrine would change that. Imagine how much different the most recent Democratic primary would have been if all the straight white male candidates were pressured to drop out of the race to give someone from a “marginalized” group an opportunity to lead.
Politicians can’t fix most of the issues voters face in their everyday lives, but they can certainly create problems or make existing ones worse. As an American, I care about the health of our two-party system and pay close attention to the ideas that receive a stamp of approval from the ruling class.
As a native New Yorker, I care about what goes on in the largest and most diverse city in America.
It is frustrating to see people whose salaries are paid by the public turn around and make life miserable for residents in some of our biggest cities. That is why it is important to shine a light on the gap between what politicians say and how they live. If they think their ideas will truly make the world a better place, we should ask why they don’t put them into practice in their own lives.