The Paradox of 'Defunding' Federal and Local Law Enforcement

AP Photo/Susan Walsh

You ever hear the saying, "When you point the finger at someone else, you have three fingers pointing right back at you?" There are few areas in today's politics to which that maxim applies as much as it does to the debate over defunding law enforcement. Over the past year, those on the left have been taking Republicans to task for calling for the defunding—and even abolition—of certain federal law enforcement agencies after criticizing folks on the hard left for the "defund the police" movement that launched after the murder of George Floyd.

In reality, both sides seem to be missing the point about their attitudes toward local, state, and federal policing.

The Dallas Morning News published a piece titled "Texas Republicans who denounced ‘defund police’ now threaten to defund Homeland Security," which took aim at GOP lawmakers who are calling for the defunding of the Department of Homeland Security and other agencies like the FBI. 

Most of the Texas Republicans in Congress have threatened to “defund” the Department of Homeland Security to pressure President Joe Biden over border policy.

“No border security, no funding,” said their letter to Biden authored by Austin Rep. Chip Roy and signed by 14 others. “No member of Congress should agree to fund a federal agency at war with his state and people.”

All but one of those same Texas Republicans denounced the so-called “defund the police” movement that sprung up after Minneapolis police officers killed George Floyd in May 2020, sparking a nationwide uproar.

The author further explained that the leftist defund the police movement "is a push to rethink local policing by shrinking budgets or redirecting funds to social services, mental health counseling and affordable housing as alternative ways to address crime."

What she leaves out is the fact that many on the left were also pushing for having fewer police patrolling communities ostensibly to cut down on incidents of police brutality toward black Americans. They promoted this idea despite the fact that polling shows the majority of African Americans wanted the same level of policing in their communities or more.

Republicans and conservatives have good reason to have lost trust in federal agencies like Homeland Security. The agency was recently caught trying to censor right-leaning views on social media platforms. The FBI has done the same while also targeting former President Donald Trump and his allies in politically-motivated investigations. The Bureau has also unfairly gone after pro-life protesters while doing little to address left-wing vandalism of pro-life organizations. These are only a few examples of how these agencies have been weaponized for political purposes.

Is it inconsistent that Republicans have harped on malfeasance committed by federal law enforcement agencies without also highlighting corrupt local policing? Of course it is.

You know what else is inconsistent? Democrats finding a newfound respect for DHS and the FBI while railing against atrocities committed by local law enforcement. The left has been defending these agencies tooth and nail since they started ramping up their efforts against folks on the right.

The reality is that people on both sides of the political spectrum are missing the most glaring point: Law enforcement at all levels of government has problems with rampant corruption. The problem is that politicians and influencers on Team Red and Team Blue seem only to care about tyrannical conduct when they perceive that it only impacts people in their respective camps.

Federal agencies have a history of unjustly targeting folks on the left as they are currently doing to the right. Indeed, leftists have been on the receiving end of federal tyranny even today. Local and state police officers don't only mistreat racial minorities. I've seen many instances in which local governments abuse folks from all backgrounds.

Ultimately, if we are going to have a freer society, all of us, regardless of political affiliation, should have a healthy skepticism of law enforcement at all levels. Despite what many of us have been led to believe, the true conflict is between the elite ruling class and the rest of us. The authoritarians in charge continue using government to violate our rights, and that will not change as long as we base our attitudes toward law enforcement on political expediency. If we the people continue down this path, it will only allow the government to become stronger and more abusive toward the citizenry.


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