Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Crime Talk as Political Spin

Politicians have a way of using misery to their advantage. That’s one of the reasons I detest campaign season. After years of serving us, they come out with cow manure in perfume laced words. No matter how hard you work at it, dung is still dung after you pour expensive smelling scents on it to cover the odor.

One of the issues that arouse emotions is crime. When in doubt regarding an election bid, talk about crime. Blame the incumbent for failing to curtail all of that violent crime. Point a wicked finger at anyone and everyone who has served in leadership for people killing one another at alarming rates.

Problem is I’m not buying it. It simply seems unfounded to assert a rise of iniquitous behavior on a few good men and women elected to govern a community. The foolish person takes too much credit for all that is good, and far too much blame for all that is bad. The truth is mounting crime in communities across the country has more to do with changing dynamics within our nation, than with public policy within our municipalities.

None of that suggest that leadership isn’t accountable for unearthing ways to fight these trends. The opposite is true. What bugs me is in how crime is used to launch a political agenda. I’m disturbed whenever a candidate comes forward with a promise to be tougher on crime, and to reduce it all due to a new improved strategy.

In Durham, NC. Thomas Stith is in attack mode. His criticism of current Mayor Bill Bell is that he is too soft on crime. His primary assumption is that the city hasn’t taken advantage of all of that federal money that could be used to improve law enforcement in the city. He preaches the good news of some prefabricated plan that, once initiated, will end gang activity, violent crime and will improve the economic strength of our community. To all of that I say, bah hum bug.

I lack sensitivity toward anyone who uses crime stats as a weapon against those who didn’t pull the freaking trigger. Those who are to blame for crime are those who commit them. It is hard for me to envisage that a new boss in town will scare all of those criminals from getting busy once he or she is sworn in. “Oh my, did y’all hear that Thomas Stith is the new Mayor!” can you hear this. “Let’s move to Cary, things are bout to change in Durham!”

Those who commit crimes could care less about who leads the city. I doubt they are reading the newspaper to keep track of new policies that sway their criminal actions. A promise to be tougher on crime has as much bearing as a promise to not exceed the speed limit. What is needed is an approach that understands the dynamics that lead to crime. All of that cheap talk about crime is just that-talk about crime. For every time a person talks to me about the need to create jobs, the need to do this, that, or that, my response is the same. You are clueless when it comes to the culture that stirs a climate for crime.

Leadership doesn’t point fingers and make promises. It listens to those who are in the middle of the heat and begins the process of addressing what they say related to the pain in the streets. Crime continues to rise because of the talking heads and experts who have no connections with the people impacted by crime.

Leadership moves past reputation and gets down in the trenches with those suffering. Don’t tell me not to worry about crime because the only people in danger are those who sale drugs. Don’t tell me I’m safe if I live in the suburb and to trust all is well in your life because it’s really not your problem. Again, that’s the breed of political spin that drives me up the wall and has me screaming for the politicians to shut their mouths and listen to what the people have to say.

Crime is not a public safety issue. It’s not a problem relegated to those elected to serve us. Crime is a community issue, and, as such, it takes each of us to solve all of this. The last thing we need is to have it on the front burner once every four years around November. If it hasn’t come from your lips on a consistent basis, do me a favor. Stop talking long enough to hear the truth.

Otherwise, you’re wasting my time with your rhetoric. Like most people my time is too important to watch you make a fool of yourself with all of those assumptions.

1 comment: