Opinion by Jack Elbaum, Washington Examiner, 7/3/23
A poll released by the Survey Center on American Life last week confirms this. It found that only 37% of college-educated Democrats believe crime is a “very big” problem compared to two-thirds of Democrats without a college degree, two-thirds of Republicans without a college degree, and 55% of Republicans with a college degree. One-fifth of college-educated Democrats say crime is either a “small” problem or no problem at all — the highest proportion among any group.
In other words, most people are able to believe their own eyes and recognize that crime is, in fact, rising and taking a significant toll on both the lives of individuals and the conditions of cities. In Chicago, for example, crime is up 88% over the past two years. In New York, it has spiked 22%. In Washington, D.C., the murder rate is at a 20-year high. In places such as San Francisco, theft is driving businesses out of the city.
It is not too hard to look around and know something is not going right.
But it seems like it’s quite the challenge for some college-educated Democrats, though. The likely reason is that they do not bear the brunt of rising crime, or even see it happening in their neighborhoods, and associate concern over crime with supposedly racially coded “Republican talking points.” As such, they are not only able to ignore the problem, but it also works within their view of politics.
On a deeper level, though, social commentator Rob Henderson has coined the phrase “luxury beliefs” to describe these attitudes. He defines them as “ideas and opinions that confer status on the upper class while inflicting costs on the lower classes.”
A perfect descriptor. Since there has been a certain amount of social cache associated with anti-police and “racial justice” views in elite liberal circles in recent years — and because crime is often not a problem in the communities occupied by college-educated Democrats — there is every incentive in the world to adopt certain out-of-touch views. After all, the consequences of them don’t actually apply to their communities and they get virtue signaling points in the process. A win-win!
Policing is likely the best example. Ninety-four percent of Americans living in “fragile” communities say they want the police presence in their neighborhood to remain the same or increase. At the same time, college-educated white progressives have been campaigning for years now to defund the police, supposedly to protect those people. But data, and common sense, tell us it would actually be disastrous for those living in “fragile” communities if there were fewer police on the street.
This description, of course, is not true of all college-educated Democrats. After all, almost 40% recognize the crime problem. But, increasingly, it is fashionable in “elite” sectors of society to hold views that signal membership of the “in-group” but are completely out of touch with the rest of American society. This is a problem because it is precisely those who populate the “elite” sectors that set the national conversations in media, politics, and academia.
George Orwell famously quipped that “Some ideas are so stupid that only intellectuals believe them.” If only Orwell could see just how true that remains today, he would be at once unsurprised and horrified.