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The Republican National Convention's main message on crime is crystal clear: If you vote for Democrats, there

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The Republican National Convention's main message on crime is crystal clear: If you vote for Democrats, there will be more of it, and it will hurt you — yes, you, living the "Suburban Lifestyle Dream." "You won't be safe in [Democratic nominee] Joe Biden's America," said New York City police union leader Patrick Lynch at the convention Thursday.

But look too long and the picture gets fuzzy. Why, exactly, will Democratic victories mean more crime? The GOP has two incompatible answers.

One is that Democrats like crime and don't want it punished. "The violence and chaos we're seeing now isn't a side effect. It isn't an unintended consequence," Lynch claimed. "It's actually the goal" of the "radical left" animating the Democratic Party. "What they want is no policing," he insisted, and for criminals who "victimize the most vulnerable" to face no consequences. Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani sounded this note, too. Biden is a "Trojan horse with ... his party's entire left wing just waiting to execute their pro-criminal policies," he said.

The other answer is that Democrats are merely weak. "Democratic politicians have surrendered our streets," Lynch said. They're "running in fear of the mob," he charged, and they "froze in the face of rioting and looting." Crime can't be fixed "from your basement, Joe," Giuliani snarked at Biden before immediately pivoting to speak of Trump's "strength" on this issue.

Why the contradiction? The likeliest explanation is strategic. Most of the enthusiasm from Lynch and Giuliani seemed to be for the first answer. The idea that Democrats prefer criminals to "real Americans" and govern accordingly fits nicely with the "Trojan horse" attack and imaginings of the average Democratic voter as a godless communist who will burn down your subdivision.

But the trouble is many people watching the GOP convention likely know or have themselves been an average Democratic voter, so pushing the caricature too far is risky. Going all-out on "Democrats love crime" might make it too difficult for these viewers (and potential Republican voters) to suspend disbelief. A dash of the old reliable "weakness" allegation keeps it just messy and plausible enough. Bonnie Kristian

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