Why Police Reform Moves Us Towards a More Perfect Union

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With talk of reforms, the paramount focus cannot be just on “The Blue”

Needless to say, there is so much to talk about when it comes to police reform.

We can talk about President Trump’s executive order to incentify police reform. We can talk about US Senator Tim Scott – himself a victim of police misconduct multiple times on Capitol Hill – and his recent 106-page legislative endeavor to address police misconduct.

We can talk about how Americans are missing the point on the bipartisan efforts for police reforms. Many will miss the point that the reforms are to address police misconduct, not to radically change good policing. They might overlook the notion that funding better programs of training is such a better idea than dead-end calls to defund or dismantle police departments. They will scoff at taking appropriate action that improves policing and fosters mutual trust. Both eliminating inefficiencies and bolstering proven methods for improving public safety keeps both sides of the badge safe: the police officer serving the public each shift and the citizen that encounters the face of the criminal justice system.

However, there is so much more on the line for our nation.

If African-Americans face a second-class citizenship in many phases of our lives – with the police reform issue as a reflection of that reality – then all Americans now struggle with the notion of subjective citizenship in their daily lives as well.

The bipartisan push for reform may finally be a nonpartisan shift towards putting government back in its place. Big government – the ultimate genie that can both grant you everything you want and be able to take everything you have – could be on its way to heading back into its bottle.

Big government took extra-ordinary measures to shut down regions of the nation without meaningful transparency, reliable data points, and thought-out results. Big government went out of its way to shut down all schools in states such as Pennsylvania, including schools that were already set up to provide academic instruction online (only to limit enrollment weeks later as a “compromise”). Big government – and its cousins, big money politics and high-dollar lobbying – have allowed “the color of law” to reflect the color of money.

We are living in a moment where Americans of all backgrounds are feeling the squeeze of their civil liberties increasing daily during 2020, with the result being a hypertensive nation on the brink of exploding even more. Yet, as the results of overstepping governmental actions continue to pour out in unnecessary unemployment numbers and fights by family-owned businesses to remain afloat, a new reality is coming to Americans in large cities and small towns:

Big government is not the answer.

Police reform is a necessary start. The appetite to curb the outsized influence of police unions in the political machinations of public policy is just a start, as the need for recalibration must also include the harmful influence of politicized teachers’ unions in the education policy realm. America can be for good police and good teachers without allowing special interests groups to protect their members at the risk of the public good. Ironically, the overreaching actions of these special interest groups have contributed mightily to the national conversations on race that we are having currently – especially on issues of education and community policing.

Big government is not the answer. Union reform is a necessary start. Government reform is simply a must.

We will not be able to tax our way out of the impact of the pandemic. We will not be able to bully our way to restoring the trust that has been destroyed since the pandemic hit American shores. That rings true with our interactions with China moving forward just as much as it matches our views of elected officials at home that provided multiple examples of COVID-driven hypocrisy in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere. We will need to trust millions of Americans to make smart, self-directed, and empowering decisions on an ongoing basis moving forward. That dynamic will get our economy back on track and our national confidence in constitutional stability reestablished. No government mandate, series of recommendations from an agency, or social distancing is going to create the conditions needed for us to survive the array of challenges we are facing in the second half of 2020. The very essence of what we are as a nation is at stake; ironically, it will take a pronounced recommitment to who we are as a nation to save us.

That starts with the pruning of big government. Government cumbrousness in the field of education, healthcare, and economics fosters too many instances of picking winners and losers at a time when we need as many winners as possible succeeding in their fields. The American people – now more than ever – must have the ability to self-determine a better path for their families and communities now that the nation is slowly reopening its doors to normalcy. Everything from the tax cuts from 2017 to the stimulus checks of 2020 highlights a need to empower Americans to lead the way, not lean on government to continue to grow. Big government has never fixed America. The American people – through our work ethic, belief in this nation, and vision for a better way for the future – always seem to find a way. Now, it seems as though the American people, through pandemic and protests, have woken up with a reality that our national redemption from this faith-shaking year rests in the ability of everyday countrymen to lead, work, pray, act, and help ourselves move onward. The best way of allowing that to continue is to reform the structures that inhibit the best of America to enact better outcomes for Americans.

So, continue to watch the calls for sensible police reforms in the days ahead, but do not just focus on the blue. To not waste this moment for a better America, we must make sure that reform truly addresses what ails us throughout the red, white, and blue.

Lenny McAllister
Lenny McAllister is Director of Western Pennsylvania for Commonwealth Foundation, Pennsylvania’s free markets think tank. Over the years, he has appeared on Fox News, The Blaze, Sirius XM Radio, Radio New Zealand, and other national and international outlets. Lenny also hosted radio shows in Chicago and Pittsburgh as well as NightTalk: Get To The Point on the Pittsburgh Cable News Channel. A Pittsburgh native once exiled to the conservative Siberia that is Chicago, he just can’t do Primanti Brothers sandwiches but knows in his heart that Oakmont Bakery should be enshrined as a national treasure.
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