Democrats Have a Progressive Problem Called Defund the Police

AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File

The war for the soul of the Democrat Party began in 2016 with the ascendancy of Senator Bernie Sanders in the primary. Many of his staffers left to create the Democrat Socialists. The group recruited and ran far-left candidates to challenge traditional Democrats in the 2018 primary with a moderate degree of success. The most notable among them was Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

The Democrats Leftward Lurch

Before being sworn in, the young freshman declared war on the Democrat establishment by showing up at a climate protest in Speaker Pelosi’s office. Flanked by three other members, dubbed the Squad, they have been dragging the party left ever since.

Speaker Pelosi has been useless in combating this leftward lurch and the antics of the Squad have captivated the media. Their insanity has overshadowed the moderate Democrats who won most of the new seats in 2018 and allowed President Trump to make them his foil.

They are unabashed socialists and the Speaker lost control of the Democrat caucus. She even found herself forced into a politically stupid impeachment because of the radicals threatening to primary sitting members.

A New Battle

Now with five months until the election, the internal civil war flares up again. Ocasio-Cortez and her crew are all in on efforts to defund police departments nationwide. Democrats on Capitol Hill and presidential nominee Joe Biden say no.

Joe Biden was clear in objecting to the idea swiftly as President Trump attempted to tie him to the radical left. Politico is trying to position this move by the president as a failure, noting there has been no significant public backlash from the left wing of the party.

The backlash is probably best seen in the level of enthusiasm Biden generates as a candidate. Two-thirds of registered voters say they are not voting for Biden. Rather, they are voting against Trump.

This type of lack of enthusiasm for the candidate was a huge problem for Mitt Romney and John Kerry when running against an incumbent. Many on the right had as much disdain for the policies of President Obama as the left does for those of President Trump. They still didn’t go vote for the candidate they felt less than enthusiastic about.

Additionally, Biden has placed Ocasio-Cortez on his advisory board. She has been successful in dragging Pelosi to the left. There is little reason to think she can’t do the same with Biden given that she has the progressive vote to hold over his head. She may be the only tool he has to try and increase turnout among apathetic and angry Bernie Sanders supporters.

Defund the Police Deflected

Defund the police is not just a concern for the presidential race. It could affect down-ballot races as well. Unlike their insane call to abolish ICE, the cities that have burned for the past two weeks will still be hollowed out with some businesses leaving the charred urban areas for good. In fact, some in Congress are concerned enough to try and reframe what the activists, including Ocasio-Cortez, are calling for. According to Politico:

“I think it can be used as a distraction and that’s my concern,” Rep. Karen Bass, chairwoman of the Congressional Black Caucus, told reporters on Monday. “I think the intent behind it is something that I support — the idea that communities need investments.”

Actually, it is not. This is clear from the reaction of activists to Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey saying he did not support defunding the police. They booed him out of a rally and chanted, “Shame, shame” as he exited the venue. It is also clear from the Black Lives Matter website. Their only petition is to defund the police nationwide. Squad member Representative Ilhan Omar has also explained this means replacing police officers with community resources.

And Minneapolis is leading the way defining what this mantra means for the entire nation. The City Council president told America just yesterday that the expectation you could call police in an emergency was rooted in privilege.

Even Politico had to note the risks here:

In some ways, it’s the story of Pelosi’s second tenure as speaker — forced to balance the demands of an aggressive left flank without alienating the moderate voters who delivered Democrats the House. Schumer, who is suddenly within arm’s reach of a Democratic majority, faces a similar dilemma for Senate candidates in largely purple states.

Any misstep by Democrats could deliver Republicans a powerful political weapon ahead of November. GOP campaign operatives are seizing on calls to “defund the police” to paint Democrats as radical leftists, just as they did with Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s “Green New Deal” or demands to abolish Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

Democrats Could Solve This

I am only giving this suggestion because I am sure Democrats won’t take it. If they were politically smart and really thinking about the future of the party, they would tell this ridiculous left flank to knock it off or run as third-party candidates. Why the DNC lets members of fringe third parties run in their primaries is beyond comprehension. Their first mistake was letting Sanders, not a registered Democrat, run for the top spot when they knew full well they were not going to let him win.

Or rather than trying to explain what their left flank really means, they could be direct Like Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.V..):

“You can’t defund the police, that’s stupid, it’s crazy and anyone who talks about that is nuts,” said moderate Sen. Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). “You have to have the police.”

I think the Senator might have just said exactly what 95% of Americans are thinking.