I describe myself as a tough-love Democrat.
Tough because I seek fiscal austerity, consequences for wrong doing (do the crime, do the time), and efficiency in program implementation (cut out the waste)
Love because I want everybody to be fed so they don’t starve, clothed so they don’t freeze, patched up when they get sick (without loosing their house or going bankrupt) and educated without paying for this education for the rest of their life.
Everybody along the political spectrum usually can agree to the above definition, unless they have an over-riding hot-button issue or they abhor anything related to the Democratic Party. If their minds are made up and their hearts are closed, they will never be won over to the Democratic camp.
I offer the following practical examples of how tough-love might engender unity over dissention.
Traffic lights throughout my state are slated to be upgraded to motion sensitive systems thanks the the Build Back Better funding. The end goal is to mitigate the backlog of vehicles waiting at lights causing congestion and adding to pollution.
Who could be against this? Liberals and Conservatives and everybody in between seems to hate traffic jams.
Democrats should make sure they get credit for this.
Let’s not stop there. I suggest adding the following component to make sure we bring into the tent the “law and order” aficionados. I propose adding cameras to all traffic light improvements. Maybe we could even add cameras to all those overhead signs on super highways and all those infrastructure bridge upgrades that are planned. If the cameras can document persons who blow through red lights and get convictions for anyone hurt or killed by their negligence, who could be against that? If this more robust camera system can assist with convictions of persons who have committed crimes and are fleeing from police, let’s do it. This is especially important in this day and age of witness reluctance and the dubious quality of eye witness accounts of crimes. The “love” is the infrastructure improvement. The “tough” component is the clamping down on criminality whether it is drag racers, fleeing criminals or even terrorists who might consider detonating our bridges and infrastructure. Democrats need to make it very clear that we are rebuilding society (love) while making it safer (tough) and not just “spending money” as others so often accuse them of doing. Lastly, for those on both sides of the political aisle who are concerned about “big brother” and “government overreach” attributed to such a comprehensive camera system, it should be very clear that images are only to be saved and used in the event that a crime is committed. Cameras unlike humans have no emotions or biases. For persons worried about overreach, let them explain their reluctance to the victims of crimes, especially those cases which are unsolved because of lack of evidence.
My second example of how Democrats can re-capture the market for those who seek a better society without outrageous costs includes the following
Build Back Better includes proposals for augmenting the human infrastructure in addition to the “bricks and mortar” projects. This includes more funding for mental health, education, etc. All good and well intentioned stuff (aka, “love”). But lets always bake in consequences and follow-up (aka, “tough”) for every dollars spent on the “soft stuff”. I make this recommendation after 15 years working weekends as a mall cop who has seen plenty of fights, disorderly conduct and angry outbursts. When any of the aforementioned disruptive incidents occur, why can’t the combatants be required to attend a therapeutic/counseling session to get to the root cause of the angry outburst and begin the process of behavior management. The number and intensity/duration of the counselling sessions could be dictated by the severity of the offenses, the depth of the anger and repeat offender histories. This restorative justice approach is the “love” component. If the combatants do not agree to this therapeutic schedule or if they fail to complete the proscribed series of counselling sessions, let the criminal charges be applied. This is the “tough” consequences component. For too long, the refrain has been “lock em up” . It has proven to be unworkable and ineffective and in some cases makes a bad situation worse. More recently, a hands-off, “leave em alone” approach to let combatants blow off steam for fear of being too heavy handed is equally unworkable and ineffective. In sum, if Democrats could corner the market with a mix of restorative justice (love) for those who are amenable to reformation and criminal charges (tough) for those who reject therapy. This approach will entice conservative law and order advocates without pandering to vigilante instincts.
Stay tuned for future blogs that delve deeper into criminal justice tough-love proposals. In the meantime, any and all suggestions and comments are most appreciated.