The Washington Monthly has a couple of interesting letters to the editor in the November 2003 issue.
The first concerns an earlier article called “Blue Crush” which blamed increased murder rates on President Bush’s defunding of police departments. The letter writer disagreed with the thesis on the basis that if the (slightly) increased murder rate were related to reductions in police funding, one would expect corresponding increases in other crimes as well. In fact, most other rates decreased.
However, the bigger question ignored by the first article and not mentioned by the letter is, what does President Bush have to do with police funding? It seems that the real problem here is having federal involvement in that area and if Bush has put a stop to it, that’s a good thing. Moreover, it’s an essential feature of fascist states that all control flows from the center, including control of local police forces. In contrast, in a society where local police are locally funded it is far harder to create a centralized, fascist state that can effectively enforce it decrees. Of course, this may seem is a rather kooky point to bring up, but it’s as plausible as the whole “Bushilter” meme where many on the Left believe that Bush is literally a fascist. So that same set should be cheering this separation because it makes their own scenario less likely. Or could it be that the problem with a Bush fascist state is the former and not the latter?
Clearly, however, this kind of detail isn’t particularly relevant, because in the next letter we have an “explanation” for Bush’s policy which is the same “Bush is only for the rich” trope that’s trotted out so frequently. The key point is that Bush’s policies, while hurting the citizens (except the rich) this is covered up by selfless Democratic Party stalwarts taking the hit for Bush like Gray Davis did in California. Yeah, I remember members of the Bush team writing the legislation that set up the crisis and imposing it by federal mandate on California, don’t you?
I’m sure the claim will be that these are fringe views on the Left, but the Washington Monthly isn’t a fringe magazine. In fact, I read it because it’s frequently one of the more intelligently written magazines of the Left (as opposed to say, Mother Jones or The Utne Reader). Yet these are the articles and letters they choose to print.