Establishment Democrats recently complained that radical anti-police and pro-socialism rhetoric cost them significant seats in the House of Representatives.
Fox News reported “infighting” over the defund-the-police movement from House Democrats, some of whom blame Black Lives Matter rhetoric for close calls. One notable example is Representative Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), who blamed “defund the police” and “socialism” for her near-defeat at the hands of Republican challenger Nick Freitas.
Rich Lowry at National Review called the electoral consequences the “failure of Black Lives Matter,” referring to the good will BLM had engendered in polling. He argued “to take this position of strength and use it primarily to associate your allies with a politically radioactive position requires extraordinary strategic folly and heedless ideological fanaticism.”
It may well be the case that calls to “defund the police” (the preferred euphemism for radical police abolition) helped Republicans do better than expected in House races. But to call this outcome a failure of Black Lives Matter is to misunderstand the nature of that movement and its goals.
One of the fundamental skills of political organizing is what the Left calls power mapping, which at its core is about answering the simple question, “Who has the power to give me what I want?”
While voters concerned about genuine threats to their safety in cities and towns across America responded positively to the congressional GOP’s emphasis on law and order in the latest election, BLM and their Marxist allies do not genuinely care about the fate of House Democrats because House Democrats do not determine whether to defund police. Rather, the success of BLM and their fellow travelers is better determined by the success or failure of radical politics at the local and state levels.
BLM supporter and Howard University professor Justin Hansford explicitly told the Associated Press just days before the election, “If there’s going to be any sort of success for Black Lives Matter on a political platform, it’s going to be traction at the local level, in cities and states across the country.”
Here evidence suggests the radicals are indeed growing stronger.
In July 2019, Governing magazine’s Alan Greenblatt noted “a few DSA-backed candidates have won city council seats over the past couple of years, but now they’re coming in bunches.”
The Atlantic’s Elaine Godfrey records that within three months, from March to May 2020, the Democratic Socialists of America increased membership by nearly 10,000 members nationwide. Socialist candidates picked up city council seats in Chicago, Denver, Seattle, Los Angeles, and Philadelphia in 2019. This Election Night was, according to Jacobin,
a powerful night for the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA), which had endorsed twenty-nine candidates and eleven ballot initiatives. Of those, at least twenty candidates and eight ballot initiatives won.
The Working Families Party, which partners with the BLM group Movement for Black Lives, ran a slate of seven district attorney candidates. Six of the party’s picks went on to victory on Election Day (the seventh is currently involved in a recount and may also prevail).
The havoc that can be caused by leftist DAs who refuse to prosecute crimes has been amply illustrated by the anarchy in Portland, where federal marshals had to deputize state police in order to prosecute rioters for assaulting law enforcement.
It may be the case that Republican House gains do illustrate a growing desire by the American people for peace and security. But if that is so, both Republicans and Democrats alike need to do a better job combating radical police abolition on the state and local level. This requires more than a protest vote every few years. To truly “back the blue,” Americans must be active in their local communities 24/7.
Vocally oppose radical schemes to defund, disarm, and paralyze your local police. Seek out pro-policing candidates for city and county councils. Pay special attention to sheriff and district attorney races. Challenge radical socialists for positions on local human rights commissions or police supervisory councils.
If we do nothing, Black Lives Matter and their allies will continue to gain strength in all the places that actually matter. Politicians at the national level may gleefully continue to fundraise and campaign on your fears.
But they aren’t the ones who will determine if someone picks up the phone when you dial 911.