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Protester holding a sign reading Trump Is Not Above the Law. (Photo: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Midterm Voters Knew Corruption-Riddled GOP Not Credible on Crime

Republicans are not even close to the party of law and order, and it is high time we call them out. If we work for a system that taxes the billionaire class at a fair rate, we could actually begin to rebuild a healthy and safe society.

Nancy Braus

The surge in crime was supposed to be the Republicans' ticket to a landslide in the 2022 midterms. For a variety of reasons, mainly the general awfulness of the Republicans running for office, this challenging issue that generally works for the right wing did not come through for them. It may also be due to the fact that the primary Republican solution to crime—lock away all Black men—is cruel, racist, and, of course, ineffective. It may also be that the Republicans have a hard time calling themselves the party of law and order when their top man—Donald Trump—is a white collar criminal, and they complain endlessly about the FBI doing the job they were hired to do. In fact, Republicans do not even consider white collar crime real—as so many of them commit these offenses.

We need to be placing blame where it belongs: on a very sick capitalist society with essentially no safety net for our poorest and our most troubled citizens

The issue of crime is one that is a conflicted issue for many of us on the left, but all citizens who are not working to create chaos, like the MAGA cult, want safe communities.
In Brattleboro, Vermont we are facing an ongoing spate of what most people consider petty theft— break—ins to cars, businesses—my bookstore has had 4 break—ins in the past year, with none for the 38 years before this. I have attended meetings with other merchants, as well as citizens who live downtown, and those working in the many non—profits that call our town home.The frustration is palpable, and the solutions on offer are few.
The conventional solutions—arrest and prison—are not working for a few reasons. One is a lack of police—our chief is trying to hire, but at the last Selectboard meeting I attended we were still 10 police short—out of the 27 in the budget. The police know exactly who is doing all the petty crime, but the system is working against them. Even when they are able to arrest the known person, judges have them out on the street in less than 24 hours to break in again. And prison is not the right place for people stealing to get a meal or a dose of street drugs.
Amazingly, at our store, we had a guy who stole 17 books and fenced them to a local used book dealer claiming to be a fast reading fan of Stephen King, whose books he stole. When we called the used book dealer, he felt awful, gave us back our books, and filed a police report. The guy was arrested— and a couple of days later he walked into the  bookstore, cool as a cucumber, and stole the donation jar for Groundworks—while smiling at two employees! One even chased him, but he was faster. 
So clearly, "catch and release" is not working. Street drugs create many dire problems for our society, and petty crime is one. We are the gateway town for the huge drug pipeline from southern New England, and we desperately need a constructive pathway for the many substance users to get the help they need. When the choice is the street or overnight in jail, nobody gets better. We need a drug court which at least directs some of the more troubled to rehab, where at least there is a possibility of becoming a healthier person with a home and a life.
These repeated acts of theft and violence leave a bad feeling hanging over our town. What is property crime but a person or persons being their own mini—Donald Trump: what you have is mine, and I will take it from you. Republicans want to eliminate the thousands of tax agents re—hired by the Biden administration to deal with the high end white collar tax criminals. They had fired them because they seem to believe that the wealthy can get away with any and all crime.
Rick Scott, the head of the Republican Senatorial election committee, had to pay 1.7 BILLION dollars in a fine for Medicare fraud—the largest Medicare fraud in history. Theft of resources and refusal of the rich to pay anything like their fair share of taxes is one of the major factors that has led to the vast inequality that plagues our country. We should and could have universal health care, a government that houses the unhomed, and available free drug treatment for all who accept the need. That massive and growing wealth gap creates conditions for the type of crime Brattleboro is experiencing. No matter what we do to fix our town's problems, unless we can get a handle on how the super—rich are taking all the resources and leaving slim pickings for the rest of society, we will not live in a safe community.
I fear many communities are facing the same problems that Brattleboro is living with. We progressives cannot pretend crime is not a problem. We need to be discussing this with each other, we need to be placing blame where it belongs: on a very sick capitalist society with essentially no safety net for our poorest and our most troubled citizens. Republicans are not even close to the party of law and order, and it is high time we call them out. If we work for a system that taxes the billionaire class at a fair rate,  we could actually begin to rebuild a healthy, safe society.

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Nancy Braus

Nancy Braus is the co-owner and buyer for Everyone's Books in Brattleboro, Vermont. She has been an environmental and peace activist for decades, as well as a volunteer for Bernie Sanders and other progressive candidates.

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