By Byron York, Chief Political Correspondent | The Washington Examiner
The Democratic Party has now finished all four nights of its national convention. There was endless talk about how terrible President Trump is — to be expected in a convention nominating a candidate to challenge a sitting president. In his acceptance address, nominee Joe Biden discussed “four historic crises” — the coronavirus pandemic, the economic plunge, “the most compelling call for racial justice since the 60s,” and climate change.
But did viewers hear a word from Democrats about the crisis of violent crime and unrest plaguing some of the nation’s major cities? No. Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, and other cities have experienced alarming spikes in violent crime, as well as, in some cases, general civic disorder.
The Democratic convention took place on Nights 82, 83, 84, and 85 of rioting in Portland. On Thursday night, as Biden spoke, a crowd returned to the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement building where a riot had been declared the night before. A confrontation ensued that ended in tear gas fired by Federal Protective Services officers, whose job it is to safeguard federal buildings around the country. Also in Portland, the disorder has moved from the central location– the federal courthouse — where it took place for so many nights out to various neighborhoods around the city.
In Chicago during the convention, the city council called a special meeting to consider declaring a state of emergency over the violent crime problem. “The rounds of looting, civil unrest, and one of the most violent summers in years prompted the call for the meeting,” reported Chicago television station WLS. July was the city’s “most violent month in 28 years,” according to the Chicago Tribune.
As the city suffered, Mayor Lori Lightfootdefended a police department policy banning protests from the block where she lives. “I have a right to make sure that my home is secure,” Lightfoot said. Indeed she does. But what about everyone else in Chicago? The moment might have been grimly funny had Lightfoot not been so clueless about the violence consuming her city.
In New York, the spike in shootings continuedduring Democratic convention week. Shootings in July were up more than 200 percent from the last year, and homicides up 50 percent — all after Mayor Bill de Blasio slashed the police budget, weakened police crime-investigating abilities, and freed prisoners across the city. “The shootings came as residents around the city have been banding together in an effort to stop the violence,” AM New York reported. That’s a sign they have lost confidence in the police, who in turn have been handcuffed by the mayor.
Did viewers of the convention hear about any of this? No. Biden said not a word, unless he was referring to riots as “the most compelling call for racial justice since the 60s.” Both former President Barack Obama and former First Lady Michelle Obama slammed Trump’s use of force to break up a protest near the White House, with Mrs. Obama saying that children across America watched in horror “as pepper spray and rubber bullets are used on peaceful protesters for a photo-op.” But on the wave of rioting and violence that has wracked America’s cities? Nothing.
Of course, all the cities involved — Portland, Seattle, Chicago, Minneapolis, New York, and others — are controlled by progressive Democrats. Indeed, the breakdown of order in those cities can be seen as a glaring failure of progressive governance on the issue of public safety. And the most energetic voices in the Democratic Party are not calling for the restoration of order — they’re calling to defund the police.
So it’s no wonder Democrats didn’t talk about it in public. Doing so would highlight one of the party’s failures and also showcase a division among Democrats about whether to create conditions, by defunding the police, that would invite even more disorder. But next week is the Republican convention. Speakers will have a chance to focus on events in the cities — and warn that the disorder could spread in a Biden administration. And the political debate will be joined, heading toward election day.