The continuing turmoil following the murder of five Dallas police officers, close on the heels of supposedly racially motivated killings of two suspects by police officers in Louisiana and Minnesota, has led to much blaming, questioning, and even some introspection. Does America have a race problem, a cop problem, a gun problem, or some combination thereof? Or is it really something else all together?
News that a new study from Harvard found little to no evidence that racial bias plays a role in instances of the use of deadly force by police officers seems to throw cold water on the theory that America is swarming with racist cops just looking for excuses to shoot black suspects. Gun control proponents would like to be able to say that America is awash in gun violence because she is awash in guns, but that argument doesn’t hold up, either.
This leaves the palpable racial anger in the black community, or at least in those members of that community the media chooses to profile and amplify. Much of this anger is no doubt genuine, but is it really about perceived animus from the police, or something else? Is what we are seeing really based more on the fact that certain members of the black community, particularly on the far, radical left, are none too happy with what eight years of the Chosen One has meant to their lives? How much of the rage and frustration is due to their lives being unimproved by an Obama administration which rode into office on a wave of “he’s the One we’ve been waiting for” type rhetoric? How many of their lives are actually palpably worse after eight years of Obama’s policies?
But none of that really explains the problem of violence between cops and citizens. It doesn’t explain why the issue of violence by police and violence against police has seemed to divide the country in two (again). But that division actually leads us to the real cause of our problems: you.
Well, probably not you, per se. You’re reading this, so you’re obviously a person of great intellectual sophistication. By “you,” I mean “us,” the American voter. By that I mean that these problems, cop vs. citizen, white vs. black, can be mainly traced to the American voter, both Right and Left, Liberal and Conservative, Red and Blue.
The American Left has long viewed law enforcement as the enemy. The irony of this is that the Left loves government as a rule and continually elects politicians to expand it. Apparently lost on them is the fact that the police are literally the enforcement arm of domestic government. David Brown, the Dallas Police Chief, pointed out the pressure put on police departments (particularly departments in large, urban, heavily minority areas) by local governments a few days after the ambush attack on his officers.
His point that “policing was never meant to solve” the problems of people with mental health issues or loose dogs is entirely correct. When local governments, liberal and conservative alike, burden the police with these sorts of responsibilities or makes the police department a de facto revenue raising arm of city government, it not only taxes law enforcement resources but increases distrust among the citizens, leading to the likelihood of more negative encounters between citizens and officers.
The Right’s problem is almost a mirror image. Conservatives and Republicans tend to lionize law enforcement, often reflexively defending the police when accused of wrongdoing before any facts are known (the exact opposite of the Left’s reflexive blame). Police officers are people, which means that the vast majority of officers are good people doing a tough job. But that also means that every once in awhile there will be a bad apple, and the Right loses credibility when they refuse to recognize that fact by at least waiting until they know what happened on a case by case basis.
The irony of the Right’s position is that law enforcement is unique in being the one government institution conservatives and Republicans actually want to increase in size and scope. Red state governments are also far from immune to the siren’s song of revenue from tickets and citations. Republicans, being the party of Law and Order, often run on a platform of increased numbers of officers and department budgets, and voters who would balk at increasing any other government agency forget that for all their good works, the police are still government officials.
America’s real problem is a government problem. We have too many laws, too many regulations. We have professional politicians stumbling over each other to pass more laws and regulations to “solve problems” largely created by some previous law they passed. We have a ridiculously vast number of people tasked with enforcing these often ludicrous and pointless things. Obviously, the shooting of a suspect or the ambush killing of five law enforcement officers are serious, terrible things. But how much of the animus between citizens and law enforcement would be avoided if the police weren’t the local face of a government constantly attempting to control the lives of citizens?
A smaller, smarter policing footprint should be the goal of anyone who seeks to lessen the size and scope of all levels of government. It’s easy for the Right to say “well you shouldn’t be breaking the law” without asking if those laws are necessary and just, and then voting for politicians who pressure police to make the politicians look good to the voters by “decreasing crime.” It’s easy for the Left to say “cops are racist, the System is racist” instead of asking themselves why they keep voting for politicians who expand the power of the government and then naturally use the enforcement arm of the government to enforce that expansion. It’s easy for the black community to believe white cops oppress them instead of questioning whether or not their community leaders really have their best interests at heart, and aren’t actually invested in retaining black anger at the “white establishment” as an election issue.
What apparently isn’t easy is recognizing that wherever you fall politically, Left or Right, the answer to none of our problems as a country is more restrictive domestic government, at any level. What isn’t easy is recognizing that yes, liberty will always entail a certain amount of risk, but the risk is worth it. But that should be easy. It should be the easiest thing in the world.
Just a gaggle of people from all over who have similar interests and loud opinions mixed with a dose of humor. We met on Twitter.