by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
The hot protest slogan and hashtag of the moment is “Defund the Police.” At times, it’s also framed as a call to abolish or disband the police. Ordinary speakers of the English language would naturally assume, listening to people chant “defund the police” in the streets, carry “defund the police” signs, and literally paint “defund the police” on the streets of D.C., that such people mean “defund the police.”
But not our media! There’s been an immediate rush to write pieces explaining that, of course, “defund the police” does not actually mean “defund the police.” …
… Notably, articles of this nature seek to draw the eye towards legislative and think-tank proposals and away from the voices of the people actually chanting in the streets.
In part, of course, all this explaining is a reflection of what a radical and politically explosive idea “defund the police” is in an election year, and how it divides the Democrats along ideological and generational lines. Leading Democratic politicians are running headlong away from the slogan while trying to embrace the people chanting it. Joe Biden, who for years proudly touted his role in the 1994 “put 100,000 more cops on the street” crime bill, visibly wants no part of the slogan. But unlike the party’s leadership, many of whom were born in the early 1940s, influential younger lawmakers such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez are pushing the idea. These are the folks who may run the party when the age-77-and-up crowd moves on.
Defunding police is also wildly impractical. The Minneapolis City Council grabbed headlines by voting to defund and disband the city’s police department, but they don’t actually have the legal authority to do that; defunding would require a revision to the city charter, which the voters would have to approve.