During a year punctuated by mass shootings at a Colorado movie theater and temple in Wisconsin, and yesterday a small business in Minneapolis, crime has all but vanished from public discussion in political campaigns, says USA Today. “When the economy is as big a problem as it is, it kind of squashes out the others,” said Frank Newport, Gallup’s editor in chief. “President Obama’s policies have kept cops and other first responders on the street to keep our communities safe,” Obama spokesman Adam Fetcher said.
The last time crime rated as the top concern of the American public was in 1996, according to Gallup. “The most important responsibility of an elected official is to provide for the safety of the people they represent, and we haven’t heard much talk about that,” said Jim Pasco of the Fraternal Order of Police. “When there is the kind of violence that we have seen this summer, you do expect there to be a discussion about it, but it seems like it is the last thing on the public agenda.” Chuck Wexler of the Police Executive Research Forum called the apparent lack of attention “a sign of the times.” He added: “Twenty years ago, the homicide rate was double what it is today” and noted that “the gun issue is radioactive in this country for both Democrats and Republicans. No one nationally has spoken about it. It’s not even on the radar screen.”