In These Times - August 3, 2021

Let’s start with this: To ​“defund the police” — which means, more explicitly, ​“to take some amount of resources we currently give to armed police and reallocate those resources towards social services, drug treatment, or other intelligent programs that target the root problems of crime effectively” — is a good idea. No honest and reasonable person should disagree with the underlying premise of defunding the police, no matter how much they might gripe about the slogan itself. If the Democratic Party thinks that ​“defund the police” is a bad slogan, they should think of another way to describe these good and reasonable policy ideas.

Instead, they are just going to scream about how much they love cops.

Even as the political center of the Democratic Party has been pulled ever so slowly to the left in recent decades, the Clinton-era thirst for triangulation still burns bright in the souls of the party’s tottering old leaders. Although the main proposition of progressives is that the future can be better than the past, the urge of the Democrats to jump up and prove that they can be just as retrograde as Republicans is proving inescapable. Nothing defines the modern Democratic Party more than its consistent refusal to embrace its own beliefs, due to projected fears over what voters might think. The conventional wisdom of Democrats has long been to only whisper their deepest beliefs about racism, injustice, and the stupidity of much of American culture behind closed doors, while making nice with god and guns in public.

Never mind the fact that ​“defund the police” is a slogan voiced by activists, not politicians. And never mind the fact that it describes a set of policies that we absolutely should be pursuing. And never mind the fact that 20 million people just got done marching for Black Lives Matter, and that shrinking our bloated and militarized police forces would be one of the most meaningful ways to accomplish the long-term goals of that movement. None of that matters more than the belief held by Jim Clyburn and Nancy Pelosi that that particular slogan led to inconvenient Democratic election losses that must be explained away somehow. ...
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