Sunday, June 7, 2020

Last Call For Black Lives Still Matter, Con't

Steve M. asks if the debate over demilitarizing the police is going to cost Biden his lead among suburban women.

Biden is lucky, because while Trump and his allies have the opportunity to portray themselves as the sensible center, and to portray the demonstrators as the extremists, they're misreading the public mood. Trump's team has sprinkled his speeches with pro forma defenses of peaceful protest and expressions of dismay about injustice, and if he could persuade us that that's what he really believes, he might be able to position himself as the reasonable man in the middle. Instead, it's clear that what really gets Trump's juices flowing is the idea of violently crushing protests. Shouts of "LAW AND ORDER!" worked in 1968, but this isn't 1968.

First, Trump is the incumbent -- if there's unrest, it's happening on his watch. In 1968, when Richard Nixon ran as a law-and-order candidate, Lyndon Johnson was president. (Nixon also had George Wallace on his right, which made him appear more moderate. Trump has no one on his right.)

Beyond that, political unrest in 2020 isn't accompanied by an uptick in crime; the two were linked in many people's minds in 1968. I also suspect that more Americans felt ties to the cities where protests and property destruction were taking place. Early in the George Floyd protests, I saw many right-wingers decrying the damage in Manhattan -- "They're looting Macy's!" In 1968, many people from suburban New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut regularly shopped at Macy's. Now they barely shop at local malls. (No one's looting Amazon.)

The downside:

But the slogan will make life harder for Biden. He'll lose the support of young progressives when, inevitably, he makes a statement like Frey's, saying that he supports serious reform but not "defunding" or "dismantling" police departments -- even though some who use that language are describing reforms Biden might be willing to endorse (and many Americans might approve of), as in Minneapolis:

Council Member Jeremiah Ellison, one of the most vocal critics of the city’s response to the protests and riots that followed Floyd’s death, tweeted Thursday: “We are going to dismantle the Minneapolis Police Department.”

[City Council president Lisa] Bender, a few hours later, issued her own tweet repeating that message and adding that they will “replace it with a transformative new model of public safety.” ...

Speaking only for herself and not for the council as whole, Bender said [in an interview that] she would support shifting from a traditional police department to a wider public safety department oriented toward violence prevention and community-based services.

In that kind of scenario, it’s possible that social workers or medics could respond to some calls now being handled by police. 

But the slogan will sound dangerous to a portion of the electorate, the way "Abolish ICE" sounded dangerous even to many people who oppose the Trump administration's immigration policies. On the other hand, "Abolish ICE" didn't prevent Democrats from scoring big victories in the 2018 midterms, so let's hope this slogan isn't too much of a drag on Biden in November.

I don't think it'll hurt Biden at all for the reasons Steve laid out at the top.  Trump will find a way to blast his own foot off with a mortar by, I don't know, demanding military troops patrol the streets.

In a heated and contentious debate in the Oval Office last Monday morning, President Trump demanded the military put 10,000 active duty troops into the streets immediately, a senior administration official told CBS News. Attorney General William Barr, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Joint Chiefs Chairman Mark Milley objected to the demand, the official said.

In an attempt to satisfy Mr. Trump's demand, Esper and Milley used a call with the nation's governors later that morning to implore them to call up the National Guard in their own states, the official said. If these governors didn't "call up the Guard, we'd have (active duty) troops all over the country," this official said.

That same day, the Pentagon started bringing in 1,600 active-duty troops to bases just outside the District of Columbia. Late that afternoon, Esper and Milley were on their way to the FBI's Washington Field Office, where the command center for the military and law enforcement response to the protests was located, the official said. En route, they received a call to come to the White House to give the President an update.

"Demilitarize the police" is something that should have taken place years ago, and under Obama it did.  It was immediately reversed by Trump. But Trump, as Steve said, is going to hang "get rid of the cops and let the thugs and the criminals get your women" on Biden no matter what.

Biden shouldn't be afraid.

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