Over the last few weeks, Democrats have been laughably trying to shake their well-earned reputations as advocates for defunding the police off on Republicans. Biden advisor Cedric Richmond kicked things off in a late June interview by saying that “when [Democrats] were in Congress last year trying to pass an emergency rescue plan for cities that were cash-strapped and laying off police, it was the Republicans who objected to it. … They defunded the police.”
The next day during a White House press briefing, press secretary Jen Psaki endorsed the spin after being questioned by Fox News reporter Peter Doocy, signaling that was the official direction the Biden administration – and Congressional Democrats – were taking the argument.
The evidence against them on this matter is overwhelming. In fact, at the same time D.C. Democrats began trying to make their preposterous argument, the Democrat-run city of Oakland yanked nearly $20 million from the police budget in the middle of double-digit percentage increases in violent crime including homicides.
Regardless, Democrats are still trying to rewrite history on their support for defunding the police, and the reasons why are becoming more obvious and urgent for the party with each passing day. As a prime example, new poll numbers just released from a Democrat polling platform show rising crime is at the top of the list that voters from both parties are worried about the most:
For the first time, crime ranked ahead of the pandemic as the top issue for all voters. Even more surprisingly, it was an issue that voters of both parties ranked highly: 57 percent of Republicans called the issue a major crisis while 52 percent of Democrats concurred. Most significantly, 70 percent of African-American voters called violent crime a major crisis. The only other issue that drew bipartisan consensus was the spread of misinformation. Dealing with violent crime was the top issue for Republicans and independents, and the third-most important issue for Democrats.
The increased salience of crime, as the rate of homicides and other incidents of violence skyrocket across the country, is now a threat to Democrats’ congressional majorities in next year’s midterms. The party’s left-wing activists advanced “defunding the police” as a campaign slogan throughout much of 2020, without much pushback from party leaders. The moderates in the party, including Joe Biden, belatedly distanced themselves from the unpopular ideology, but didn’t condemn the movement itself. Too many lawmakers saw crime as a political vulnerability instead of a governing necessity.
Though they didn’t lose their majority last year, House Democrats paid a steep political price for their support for the Defund the Police movement, losing 14 seats and narrowing Pelosi’s majority significantly. So as dumb as the strategy may sound, it’s easy to see why Democrats are reviving the issue in advance of the 2022 midterms, especially with this polling in mind. It’s an albatross they want off their backs and they want it off now.
Ultimately, however, they’re likely to regret it, because the “which party is tougher on crime” debate is not one that will go in the Democrats’ favor, and all one has to do is to look at the statistics in the big Democrat-run cities where party leaders at the local level have wholeheartedly embraced the “defund” movement:
Incredible stats, particularly in Portland pic.twitter.com/tX1ru4zx7k
— Tom Elliott (@tomselliott) June 28, 2021
There’s simply no escaping the “Defund the Police” label for Democrats. As I’ve said before, that ship has long sailed, and there’s no getting off it for them now.