WASHINGTON, DC – During a recent virtual meeting attended by Joe Biden and several civil rights leaders that have been among the “defund the police” crowd, Biden told the attendees to slow their roll when it comes to “police reform.”
Biden warns democrats against ‘defund the police’ push before Georgia Senate runoff. https://t.co/Uht4PeRUo1
— National Police Association (@NatPoliceAssoc) December 12, 2020
Figures such as NAACP President Derrick Johnson and Rev. Al Sharpton were in attendance at said meeting, where Biden explained that getting overzealous in police reform efforts and rhetoric during the election season didn’t exactly help the Democratic party.
Audio that was leaked from the meeting had Biden warning that getting too jumpy toward police reform efforts prior to the Georgia Senate runoff elections in January could result in not attaining the de facto Senate majority:
“I also don’t think we should get too far ahead of ourselves on dealing with police reform in that, because they’ve already labeled us as being ‘defund the police’ anything we put forward in terms of the organizational structure to change policing – which I promise you, will occur. Promise you.”
Biden laid some credibility to this take on how the “defund the police” branding wound up hurting the Democratic party during election season this year:
“That’s how they beat the living hell out of us across the country, saying that we’re talking about defunding the police. We’re not. We’re talking about holding them accountable.”
“We’re talking about giving them money to do the right things. We’re talking about putting more psychologists and psychiatrists on the telephones when the 911 calls through.”
“We’re talking about spending money to enable them to do their jobs better, not with more force, with less force and more understanding.”
It was in no uncertain terms that Biden was conveying that police reform topics need to be avoided at all costs before the Senate runoffs in Georgia, saying:
“I just raise it with you to think about how much do we push between now and January 5 – we need those two seats – about police reform. But I guarantee you, there will be a full-blown commission. I guarantee you it’s a major, major, major element.”
The reason why Democrats want those Georgia Senate seats so badly is because it would leave the Senate in a 50-50 split between Republicans and Democrats.
In leaked recording, President-elect Biden told civil rights leaders that the GOP used the slogan "defund the police" to "beat the living hell" out of Democrats.https://t.co/xB3RR1TBCv
— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) December 10, 2020
So, when there’s a literal 50-50 split on efforts put before the Senate (assuming everyone in the Senate always toes the party line on matters they vote on), then the vice president would serve as the tie-breaking vote.
Hence, a de facto control of the Senate by Democrats if both Georgia runoffs are secured.
Biden made it abundantly clear during the same meeting that while he has zero issue exercising executive actions where possible, he’s not going to entertain executive action that subverts the Constitution:
“I am not going to violate the Constitution. Executive authority that my progressive friends talk about is way beyond the bounds…whether it’s far left or far right, there is a Constitution.”
Since Biden has essentially declared that he has zero desire to undermine the Constitution, it makes sense that he’s instructing those among his inner circle to tread lightly until after the Senate runoffs in Georgia.
Biden isn’t the only one to have noted that phrases like “defund the police” being parroted by officials didn’t behoove the Democratic party in gaining new appeal.
Even former President Obama chimed in recently on the topic, calling it a “snappy” phrase that was overwhelmingly turning people off.
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Here’s out previous report when former President Obama’s words wound up getting him some backlash for modern progressives.
Obviously, not everyone is a fan of former President Barack Obama or his time in office, but he didn’t achieve becoming a twice-elected president by being irrational.
So when he was asked about his thoughts on the “defund the police” movement that has been ever-present since the beginning of this summer, he offered his take on the phraseology used in said endeavors nation-wide:
“You lost a big audience the minute you say [defund the police], which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done.”
— The Hill (@thehill) December 2, 2020
The former president noted that when elected officials are either employing or echoing such phrases as “defund the police”, they run the risk of not attracting a broad audience to their desired policy proposals:
“The key is deciding, do you want to actually get something done, or do you want to feel good among the people you already agree with?”
Former President Obama’s take on the slogan, which he referred to as being “snappy”, is hardly a radical observation when speculating on how the messaging may resonate with a wider audience.
When taken at face value, the word “defund” sounds an awful lot like “abolish” or “eradicate” when one acknowledges that law enforcement agencies are tax payer funded.
But despite the former president’s well-regarded reputation within the Democratic party, his audacity to critique the slogan did not resonate well with some of the more vocal proponents of the movement.
Among those critical is congresswoman-elect Cori Bush, who hasn’t even held public office yet compared to former President Obama’s 20 years in public office.
Bush took to Twitter, writing the following:
“With all due respect, Mr. President—let’s talk about losing people. We lost Michael Brown Jr. We lost Breonna Taylor. We’re losing our loved ones to police violence. It’s not a slogan. It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police.”
With all due respect, Mr. President—let’s talk about losing people. We lost Michael Brown Jr. We lost Breonna Taylor. We’re losing our loved ones to police violence.
It’s not a slogan. It’s a mandate for keeping our people alive. Defund the police. https://t.co/Wsxp1Y1bBi
— Cori Bush (@CoriBush) December 2, 2020
While anyone can certainly be critical of anything, Cori Bush seems to be completely missing the point the former president was trying to convey.
Considering that former President Obama has often been heralded as one of the best public speakers of modern times, he may be a good person to pay attention to when it comes how to phrase certain things.
Even Ilhan Omar decided to jump in on the Twitter dogpile against the former president, writing the following:
“We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety.”
We lose people in the hands of police. It’s not a slogan but a policy demand. And centering the demand for equitable investments and budgets for communities across the country gets us progress and safety. https://t.co/Vu6inw4ms7
— Ilhan Omar (@IlhanMN) December 2, 2020
When observing the comments section related to Omar’s admonishing of former President Obama’s take on how the slogan sits with the greater populace, other chimed in that modern progressives in office really need to soak in what Obama is trying to convey.
Exactly. And why are we so stubborn about not changing it? People hear "defund the police" and fear you're trying to take away all law enforcement.
Yes, they're wrong, but read the room progressives…
— BADRO (@tom_badro) December 2, 2020
Ayanna Pressley, another one of “The Squad” members, also took a jab at former President Obama for being among the critics “of the language of activists”:
“The murders of generations of unarmed Black folks by police have been horrific. Lives are at stake daily so I’m out of patience with critiques of the language of activists. Whatever a grieving family says is their truth. And I’ll never stop fighting for their justice & healing.”
The murders of generations of unarmed Black folks by police have been horrific. Lives are at stake daily so I’m out of patience with critiques of the language of activists.
Whatever a grieving family says is their truth.
And I’ll never stop fighting for their justice & healing.
— Ayanna Pressley (@AyannaPressley) December 2, 2020
Of course, the often bombastic Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez also decided to drop in her proverbial two cents on the comments made by the former president, alleging the whole purpose of using the term “defund the police” was to “make folks uncomfortable”.
The whole point of protesting is to make ppl uncomfortable.
Activists take that discomfort w/ the status quo & advocate for concrete policy changes. Popular support often starts small & grows.
To folks who complain protest demands make others uncomfortable… that’s the point.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) December 2, 2020
The irony in all this criticism toward former President Obama’s concerns on the slogan “defund the police”, is that his concerns seem to be pretty spot-on in its effect.
Because while Democrats are projected to maintain control of the House, they still managed to lose seats this year despite being expected to expand control of it. Maybe “defund the police” had something to do with it.
I'm not even a Dem, but even I can acknowledge that perhaps the neo-progressives in office should probably take heed to what Obama is trying to tell them.
— Greg Hoyt (@GregHoytLET) December 3, 2020
And while the Senate majority won’t be decided until January of 2021, it’s currently a 50-48 split with a Republican majority with two runoff elections in Georgia coming up in January. All that is needed is one win for Republicans in Georgia and they maintain control of the Senate.
It’s painfully obvious that branding is everything.
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