After the riots, looting and destruction following the death of George Floyd, Americans should be asking is it time for radical change — should Donald Trump be president? At least until they consider what Joe Biden is offering and how his supporting cast of blue state governors and mayors have behaved.
Floyd’s death at the hands of a Minneapolis police officer lit an explosive store of frustration and suspicions within black communities, but it also tapped lots of ammunition from the COVID-19 lockdowns.
For established professionals with secure jobs and able to work from spacious homes and apartments, the COVID-19 lockdowns are a tedious inconvenience and temporary hit to their wealth — stock portfolios are recovering quite well.
For low-wage workers and young professionals furloughed and many permanently displaced from failing small business and professional firms, the propaganda from left-wing activists that police violence and rioting can be stopped by magically addressing income inequality through government programs resonates — young professionals are increasingly disenamored with capitalism, drawn to socialist solutions and have plenty of forced leisure to take to the streets.
All this has the potential for another Occupy Wall Street movement.
As with any other mass demonstration in America, violent and apparently well-organized elements are ready to exploit the chaos. The first days of June, organized criminals were casing by Manhattan stores to loot at night, And if that was reported in the newspapers, how could the NYPD fail to stop it?
The bluest of the blue big city mayors, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio had so restrained his police that they could not maintain law and order. President Trump may have told governors to “dominate” the streets, but the social justice mayor and his colleagues elsewhere appear to have adopted the policy of letting demonstrators violate curfews and rioters loot enough stores to assuage their righteous anger.
Mr. de Blasio appeared more focused on police transgressions and refused to call in the National Guard. Only after Gov. Andrew Cuomo finally found his voice and called out the mayor for malfeasance, did the NYPD implement the kind of much more serious measures needed to secure the city and since, the nights have belonged to quieter protests. Similar tougher enforcement worked elsewhere, too.
Mr. Trump’s behavior has hardly been exemplary. Police shouldn’t “dominate” the streets but rather take adequate and in exceptional circumstances aggressive measures to “secure” the streets and “protect persons and property.” His message was correct, his language terrible.
But far from a verbal flub, it revealed his state of mind. Following his virtual conference with the governors, he took an early evening, pre-curfew stroll to Lafayette Square where his security detail forces cleared a path with smoke cannisters and pepper balls so he could be photographed holding up a Bible in front of St. John’s Church.
In all of this, what is lost is how badly liberal police reforms have failed in our cities.
The police officer, Derek Chauvin, was charged with manslaughter — later upgraded to second-degree murder — in just four days.
Merck CEO Kenneth Frazier explained the civil unrest on CNBC by noting African-Americans see the video of the incident on television, nothing happens and so they take to the streets. He should inform himself better.
Prosecuting police is a very difficult business. Convictions of a police officer requires not merely proving excessive force but that the police officer willfully violated the victim’s constitutional rights. A video is not enough, investigations can take months, or a bad officer can simply beat the charges in court.
The more fundamental problem is the industrial model of adversarial labor-management relations applied to police. Unions have negotiated rules and safeguards in disciplinary processes that make it virtually impossible to remove bad officers until a terrible tragedy happens.
In Minneapolis, 2,600 civilian complaints have been logged since 2012. Those have resulted in only 12 disciplinary actions — the severest was a 40-hour suspension. The accused police officer has been subject to 18 prior complaints.
Mr. Biden’s answer to all this is higher taxes and more social programs. That policy has resulted in despair for the working classes and high youth unemployment throughout most of Western Europe — that’s where France’s Yellow Vests Movement came from.
No Democrat dares criticize unions, and Mr. Biden makes no mention of fixing the collective-bargaining mess that gave us the terrible tragedy in Minneapolis but without that he won’t have any more success than Mr. Trump.
Writen by Peter Morici, an economist and business professor at the University of Maryland, and a national columnist.