June 9, 2020
The fringe Left: Great at making slogans. Terrible at considering consequences. Maybe “DEFUND THE POLICE” makes an edgy statement slathered in yellow letters on D.C.’s 16th Street — but putting it on paper, like Democratic lawmakers are threatening to do, would be one of the worst policy mistakes in history. And it’s not just Republicans who think so.
As usual, the Left’s new crusade to defund the police — like “Abolish ICE!” and “Open the Borders!” — is full of the requisite shock value, as everyone from Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) to Senator Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) stokes their base with calls to embrace the lawlessness their agenda depends on. But is it really a serious movement? The liberal media certainly hopes not. Months away from a general election, outlets like CNN and the New York Daily News are warning the crusade could be “deadly” for Democrats. Even Joe Biden, who’s been off the reservation on policy for most of the year, knows you don’t win over voters by leaving their homes and children unprotected.
But then, this was always about rhetoric — not reason. To the Left, the practical implications of defunding police, like crime, disorder, and mayhem, are another inconvenient sidebar. That’s because, Randy Petersen points out in the Federalist, “the screams and emotions and nonstop news coverage have given the idea legs that are not easily countered without thoughtful debate.” Even the Minneapolis city council, who’s actually considering a defund proposal, admitted they hadn’t even thought about what a “police-free future looks like.”
If so, Judicial Watch’s Chris Farrell says, then maybe they ought to be held personally responsible for the fallout. Is AOC going to accept the liability for the property damage and loss of life that results from her rally cry? Because ironically, he points out, the people who would be most at risk in this lawless society are the ones she and her fellow liberals claim to care most about: minorities, the elderly, children, and women. Without police, “that’s exactly who will be placed in the greatest danger.”
Fortunately, like most of their wildly unpopular ideas (legal infanticide, late-term abortion, socialism, immigration, environmental fanaticism), the American people are overwhelmingly opposed to defunding the police. While Minneapolis, New York, and Los Angeles leaders move ahead with the absurd suggestion, only 16 percent of Democrats and 15 percent of Republicans support it. Like most sane people, they understand that while our law enforcement system is flawed (what public institution isn’t?) the solution is reforming it — not removing it altogether.
Just consider what’s happened in the last week and a half. Seventeen lives have been lost in the riots despite the massive police presence. Based on the damage that’s been done, does anyone seriously believe that America is at the point where we’re sufficiently capable of controlling our own behavior? “If ever there was a time to fund the police or to recruit for the police,” Sarah Perry argued on “Washington Watch,” “I would think it would be now.”
Instead, the mobs want to take away the only thing separating America from absolute anarchy. And at the end of the day, that’s almost certainly the Left’s real goal: destabilizing the country so they can step in and reorder. “It’s all part and parcel of the revolutionary firebombing — trashing the whole system and starting over,” Sarah shook her head. “It’s not, ‘Let’s take the good parts,’ or ‘Let’s modify what isn’t working.’ It’s ‘Let’s throw it all out.'”
Attorney General William Barr agreed, warning, “There’s a witches’ brew of extremist groups looking to exploit this on all sides,” But destroying law and order is a bridge he’s shocked anyone would cross. “You would have increases in vigilantism and increases in chaos in the city,” he warned. It would be a mistake. Just like it is to judge all 900,000 U.S. police officers by one man’s actions.
Obviously, bad policing does exist in certain areas. Let’s address it. Let’s do a thorough audit of what the behavior is, what the training is, who we’re recruiting, and what their backgrounds are. Let’s reevaluate police unions and internal discipline. But this should be the first sign of really bad policy, Petersen argues, “punishing everyone regardless of their culpability.” That’s “precisely the argument that many in the black community make — that its members are unfairly targeted by agents of the government, mostly (but not only) the police, without regard to individual guilt or innocence… Both sides need to step out of the elevator and have a real discussion on what the goals are and the best way to get there. Alienating all of our police officers is not a good way to start.”
Tony Perkins’s Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.