The problems we are facing right now, including police brutality and racism, have very little to do with the Usual Suspects, at least according to the loudest voices on the progressive left. The cause of George Floyd’s death was not a totally corrupt police system, or capitalism, or fascism, or anything like that.
Likewise, the solutions are not the usual solutions offered up by these same activists. This won’t be solved by abolishing all law enforcement, nor will it be solved by tearing down the current system and replacing it with a proper socialist utopia.
Far too often, the solutions proposed are all about increasing the size and scope of the government. If we give the government more power, it can stop all the bad things that are always happening. But, there are laws against murder already. There are laws regulating guns already. There are laws regarding hate crimes. There are laws regarding abuse of power. There are all sorts of laws and regulations that cover the pressing issues of the day.
There are regulatory bodies that enforce non-legislative rules indiscriminately, punishing the least of us while being puppeteered by the most powerful. There are unions that exist to protect the worst offenders in a career field, inflicting their insecurities, ineptitude, or sometimes outright evil on the masses.
Ultimately, these things have failed in their original tasks. They have been usurped for purposes well beyond their original intent. But that is the problem with granting more and more power to the state and expecting it to solve all of our problems. The state does not share power well, and when it can do something, it likes to do it, no matter if that was the original purpose of the state’s power in the first place.
The solutions for the problems that are plaguing us right now — police brutality, an oppressive and over-enthusiastic state, government inefficiency, etc. — all go back to the roots of conservatism.
Fiscal restraint and the reduction of the size and scope of government are two of the easiest solutions that we can offer right now. The police are militarized because the budget for law enforcement, from the top down, is bloated. Law enforcement is not about being militarized to the point of going to war with criminals who use counterfeit money or run a red light. Likewise, we have to make it easier to get rid of the bad cops, which will make it easier to solve a lot of the issues with law enforcement’s handling of black suspects.
Going after unions and reducing spending by government are usually more conservative solutions to problems with the state. Granted, the Republican Party’s record on reducing spending despite having the White House and for a period having both chambers of Congress is not great. This would be a great platform for them from the federal level on down, however, and it has the added effect of actually being a workable solution.
Defunding law enforcement entirely won’t work, because it won’t stop actual crimes from taking place, which causes more problems than it solves. But attacking certain parts of the budget will stop them from having the extra force that they can use — and at times have used — for no reason other than they can. Some of that can get redirected to a more efficient victim compensation fund and the staff to properly run it.
Likewise, you can work on legislation that won’t entirely destroy police unions, but eliminate certain obstructive behaviors from unions. You can legislatively attack the National Labor Relations Board and public sector unions, preventing things like police unions keeping officers who use an unreasonable level of force against a civilian from being fired. If you were to make it easier to fire public sector employees but, say, make it easier for those wrongly fired to receive compensation and a clean slate if they are found to have been wrongly accused, then you can begin to heal wounds within police departments.
If we can do some or all of this while also further separating prosecutors’ connections with law enforcement to prevent both sides of the law and order system from protecting each other, then we have a chance to make real progress. And these ideas stem from some of the basic foundations of conservatism. It’s not hard to chart a path forward on this, but we have to work now to make it happen.