Over the past decade, the consensus that has formed around the conservative position on crime, made famous by Ronald Reagan and Ed Meese, and put into practical effect by such as Mayor Rudolph Giuliani in New York, has transformed crime statistics in America. America is safer again, and liberal softness on crime is in retreat.
In retreat, but not banished. Just when liberalism has learned its tricks from sleight of hand, it fumbles the cards. The latest: let the felons, and indeed the inmates, vote! Why? For rehabilitation!
This fabulous proposal comes from out of the void that is liberal ideology, and, wonder of wonders, some states are taking it up. The problem seems lost upon the authors of this prodigy that we lock criminals up because they cannot run their own lives. Nevertheless, let them run ours.
This would be silly were it not dangerous. It exemplifies the divide that runs right through politics today, and it belies the talk of consensus that emanates from Washington. There is a common sense position on crime, which holds that the government's work is justice, and justice requires punishment for violence and predation upon others.
This is easy to see, and it has been easy to see from the beginning. Of course those smart people who built our country knew all about this, and Reagan and Meese and Giuliani are only following them. On this issue, they are conservatives in that highest sense, conservers of the fruits of a great revolution for the rights of all.
To read about that revolution and its lessons on crime and punishment, one may turn to the one book that tells the tale best. Ronald J. Pestritto, adjunct fellow at the Claremont Institute, has recently published Founding the Criminal Law: Punishment and Political Thought in the Origins of America.
- Founding the Criminal Law: Punishment and Political Thought in the Origins of America, by Ronald J. Pestritto
- The Silence of the Liberals, by John Hinderaker and Scott Johnson, from November 27th, 2002