One can always count on 2020 to provide something that is surreal, disjointed, or counter-logical.
Shut down schools to keep kids safe during the beginning of the pandemic in America? Made sense. Shut down cyber charter schools from operating at a time when students could only learn online? Made no sense.
Strongly encourage social distancing and procedures to cut down the risk of COVID-19 spreading among the general population? Makes sense. Force COVID-affected patients into nursing homes where the most vulnerable Americans live “for the greater good”? Made absolutely no sense (especially when policymakers were operating from a “do as I say, not as I do for my family” perspective, as was the case in Pennsylvania.)
Strictly enforce capacity mandates for restaurants to mitigate “super-spreader” risks? Makes some sense (even if government officials continue to eschew transparency, not releasing pertinent data behind the mandates). Actively encourage thousands of potentially-asymptomatic Americans to congregate and protest from coast-to-coast simultaneously – to the point of having the same elected officials participate themselves? Made no medical sense, even if it made perfect political (and virtue-signaling) sense.
America has heard the cries of “Black Lives Matter”, “defund the police”, and that radical change is necessary in these “new normal” times. And yet, despite the winds of social change sweeping across 2020 (actually, in some circles, starting with the Democrats’ initial primary process stretching back to mid-2019), we find ourselves with two of the most non-imaginative tickets we could have – particularly if one considers that we live in the shadows of racially-tinged tragedies from Trayvon Martin to Sandra Bland to Jordan Miles to George Floyd.
The Republican ticket includes the incumbents, ones who have made repeated calls for “law and order” since the infamous Trump tweet in late May:
LAW & ORDER!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 31, 2020
Somewhat surprisingly, the Democrats’ alternative is also a “law and order” ticket, even if Biden and Harris – architect of some of the most meaningful criminal justice legislation of the 20th century and a noteworthy enforcer of “tough love” laws, respectively – will do their best to pivot away from that reality during rest of the 2020 campaign.
This highlights a very important point, one that conservatives often get wrong about the left, even if the “radical left”. It is also overlooked by the hard left – particularly when viewed through the lens of the media:
The American people, fully across the board, want law and order. They might be protesting the need for constitutional law and order – the ability to enjoy civil rights protected within our nation of laws – but they want law and order.
Don’t think so? Look at the two major party tickets and the partisan clamoring around them at this point, despite the obvious warts each may have.
The American people understand clearly and directly that the essence of democracy and the pursuit of the American Dream rest in the reality that social stability is vital, not optional. For all the protesting that we find from Portland to Pittsburgh, the protestors have not discarded the notion that there is a direct need to have solutions rooted in our way of life. Perhaps some are pushing for socialism, yet those voices find themselves drowned out by the call for justice within calm, accommodations without chaos, and reform without radical revolution. For all the clamoring for a new vision from the younger generations of America, we find that the response to that demand has been leadership from a near-octogenarian and a hardline former prosecutor.
What is more noticeable – and perhaps more ironic to some -is not just the fact that people are ok with “law and order” much more than they would openly say; it is the fact that many of the people that sound like they “hate America” or note that “the American Dream is not for us”, in fact, still want the American Dream.
Americans, from Black millennials protesting in the streets due to police misconduct to angry business owners that continue to navigate the pandemic with mismatched rules and regulations that shift with arbitrarily-set conditions, want what the notion of America reflects: stable communities, clear and fair pathways for opportunity, consistent expectations, and gains for hard work and dedication.
Laws provide that structure. Order allows for those expectations.
Granted: no one is looking for a repeat of the over-incarceration that we saw over the past four decades (stretching back to the 1980s and the crack epidemic). Yet, if the sentiment of supporting good policing, establishing parameters of expectations for police forces and citizens alike to operate within, and funding appropriate amounts of resources to keep Americans constitutionally safe was so off-putting, why is it such a central tenet to what we expect in our neighborhoods, our workspaces, our schools, and our places of worship? Granted: the Nixonian definition of “law and order” skirts the societal issues we must address and remedy, but the hijacked political definition should never replace the societal expectation – that America cannot provide any redress for injustice and secure any equality for anyone without our voted-upon laws providing a sense of order and expectation.
Regardless of 2020’s imitation of the 1910s and 1968 so far this year, Joe Biden’s selection of Kamala Harris as his vice presidential pick reminded us once again that the more some things change, the more some things truly remain the same – not just in politics, but in society’s expectations for ourselves as well. Sometimes, logic simply just prevails.