Progressives, including most members of the Democratic Socialist “Squad”, fired back at President Barack Obama Wednesday, torching the former leader over his comments deriding the far-left for advocating to “defund the police” — a slogan which Obama and other experts believe had a widespread, negative impact on Democrat success in down-ticket and statewide elections.
Speaking to a Snapchat audience Tuesday night, Obama mocked efforts to “defund the police,” deriding Democrats for adopting the slogan and then suggesting they had no real intention of “defunding” any police department, using “defund the police,” instead, as code for reforming law enforcement, panicking voters.
“You lost a big audience the minute you say it, which makes it a lot less likely that you’re actually going to get the changes you want done,” Obama told “Good Luck America.” “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?”
Some Democrats, indeed, admitted, after noticing how deeply unpopular defunding and disbanding police departments was among key voters — including minority voters — that they had no intention of actually “defunding” the police. But far-left progressives like Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) and Rep. Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) insisted, Wednesday, that they fully intend to follow through on their promise to end ‘racist” policing.
Omar was the first to fire back, tweeting that, “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.”
Tlaib suggested, in her own tweet, that Obama was threatening the legacy of civil rights crusader Rosa Parks by siding with law enforcement against progressive reformers or suggesting that the far-left wasn’t seriously considering a “defund the police” platform.
“Rosa Parks was vilified & attacked for her civil disobedience. She was targeted,” Tlaib wrote. “It’s hard seeing the same people who uplift her courage, attack the movement for Black lives that want us to prioritize health, funding of schools & ending poverty, rather than racist police systems.”
Rep. Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), also a key member of the “Squad,” added that she and other progressives were “out of patience” with Obama’s rhetoric.
“The murders of generations of unarmed Black folks by police have been horrific,” Pressley tweeted. “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.”
Rep. Cori Bush (D-MO) may have been the most adamant, firing back at Obama, claiming that “defund the police” is “not a slogan” but a “mandate:” “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.”
Progressive efforts to defund the police, particularly at the state and local levels, have largely failed. Minneapolis, Minnesota’s, City Council, the first metropolitan government body to pursue a true cut in law enforcement budget, gave up on the effort over the summer after crime rates skyrocketed and minority residents complained directly to the City Council about the lack of law enforcement presence in at-risk communities.
In New York City, Mayor Bill de Blasio pledged deep cuts to the New York Police Department but has yet to make those cuts permanent, likely because, as with Minnesota, New York City also suffered a summer crime wave that correlated with an increase in anti-police sentiment.
Obama, of course, has been a thorn in the side of “Democratic socialists” the entire 2020 presidential campaign, warning big-money donors and Democratic bigwigs early on that the party had no chance of success if it nominated a far-left candidate like Sen. Bernie Sanders or if progressive forced the party to adopt an extreme far-left platform. Now that he and others affiliated with his White House are guiding a potential Joe Biden administration, it could signal a burgeoning rift within the Democratic party.