In the wake of the 2020 elections that saw House Democrats slim down their once-solid majority to one of the thinnest in decades, many moderates in the party pinned the blame for the unanticipated losses on progressive members’ radical demands, including to “defund the police.” But that doesn’t mean the far left is backing down.
Defunding the police?
“Defund the police” messaging kicked into high gear over the summer amid anti-police brutality protests that came in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd, a Black man, at the hands of police in Minneapolis. Activists, many aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement, repeatedly made it clear that they meant what they said about stripping funding from — and ultimately abolishing — police departments across the country.
According to the left-leaning Mother Jones, however, those who promoted the “defund the police” message aren’t accepting the blame for the Democratic losses, and instead, they appear emboldened to press it, regardless of who is in power in Washington. Apparently, activists expect little in the way of assistance from elected politicians.
“I’m very pessimistic about what we can expect, at least initially, from the Biden administration,” Alex Vitale, a Brooklyn College sociology professor who authored a book on abolishing the police, said, according to Fox. “He’s made it very clear that he wants to put more resources into policing, that he supports the kind of superficial and ineffective procedural reforms that the Obama administration proposed.”
“We’re not going away”
New York anti-police attorney and activist Andrea Ritchie similarly said that she doesn’t expect the Democratic Party to be “supportive of the main demand from the streets.”
“What we’ve heard so far from the Democratic Party is what they’re not going to do,” Ritchie said in an interview with Mother Jones, as Fox reported.
“It’s going to be a fight — we’re not going away,” Ritchie said of the next four years, adding that regardless of how the media and moderates may try to spin it, “the demand is still to defund the police.” She told Mother Jones: “And it’s going to get louder and louder. And I don’t know that we even need to be the inside. They’re going to hear it either way.”
“The tip of the spear”
According to Politico, leftists have also pushed back on arguments that their calls to “defund the police” hurt Democrats at the ballot box.
“I am disappointed that this has been the post-election conversation and I have not seen the data sets to support it,” Rashad Robinson, who leads an organization partnered with the Black Lives Matter movement, told Politico. “Which means that it’s reflective because it’s always easier to blame Black people.”
Still, progressives seem to expect that moderates will keep fighting against their cause. “This is the tip of the spear,” said Maurice Mitchell, who heads the far-left Working Families Party. “They’re using this ‘defund’ fight as a proxy for a broader ideological fight.”
Let the infighting begin.