In the days following the election, many members of the Democratic Party have taken aim at more progressive policies. Reps. Jim Clyburn, Cedric Richmond and others have attributed the loss of eight seats in the U.S. House of Representatives to slogans such as "Medicare For All" and "Defund The Police."
"'Defunding the police' is a title that hurts Democrats," Richmond said.
"Sloganeering kills people. Sloganeering destroys movements. Stop sloganeering. And let's go about the business of representing people and building hopes and aspirations for people," Clyburn added.
Despite Clyburn and Richmond's comments, there is little evidence to support their arguments. Most notably, Democrats have regained control of the White House. Democrats have gained a seat in the Senate and have the ability to regain control of it if they are able to win two runoff elections in Georgia. In the U.S. House of Representatives, Democrats lost eight seats in "swing" districts. With the exception of soon-to-be former Rep. Debbie Mucarsel-Powell, none of the eight former lawmakers openly supported "Medicare For All." Furthermore, none of the eight former lawmakers in question supported defunding the police. In fact, soon-to-be former Rep. Max Rose did the exact opposite.
“I think that this is a critical moment where we should be investing in our police even more,” Rose said one month before the election.
More junior members of the Democratic Party have fought back against Clyburn and Richmond's thought process. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez took her colleagues' claims in to consideration, conducted brief research and found their comments to be unfounded.
"Every single swing-seat House Democrat who endorsed 'Medicare For All' won re-election or is on track to win re-election," she tweeted.
The claims of Clyburn, Richmond and others have played in to the hands of right-wing politicians and media personalities. Prior to the fallout within the Democratic Party, President Donald Trump railed against the "Defund The Police" movement and those who support him in the media have picked up where left off following the election.
"Thankfully, this has been a disaster for the Democratic Party. Who is for defunding the police? Well, pretty much no one. It turns out crime and chaos scare the hell out of homeowners, taxpayers, job holders, anyone with children or pets or cars or furniture or any expectation of life beyond this afternoon. Everyone knows that polls show that Hispanic voters really hate the idea, and it's one of the main reasons so many voted Republican last week," Tucker Carlson of Fox News said.
Carlson's claim that no one supports defunding the police measure is false. In the days following the election, American voters have pushed forth "Defund The Police" supported polices like Measure J in Los Angeles and New York's plan to introduce a mental health units alongside their police force. On the topic of "Medicare For All," Americans have also been supportive. A Hill-HarrisX poll from earlier this year found that nearly 70% of Americans support "Medicare For All."
Movements like "Black Lives Matter" and "Defund The Police" are partially the reason why Democrats saw record voter turnout in last week's election
"We heard a lot of people in the reports from around the Democratic Caucus say that the reason we lost these seats was the Black Lives Matter movement and specifically around defunding the police. I think that's been the center of this argument and you have seen AOC and others weigh on the other side. To me, I look at the data. I look at the data and I see voter registration. It's the number one thing I look at. During the pandemic, voter registration wasn't happening. Democrats weren't organizing in person. For the first time over the four year cycle, Republicans were registering more voters than Democrats during that period. Then, the George Floyd murder happens. That video comes out on a Wednesday in late May. The next day demonstrations begin around the country. I look that next day. After seeing Mayor Bottoms in Atlanta and Killer Mike on TV saying, 'We need to demonstrate, but we also need to vote. We need to register.' I'm a data guy, so I look at the early vote in Georgia the next day because they were voting in their primary. Just one day later, I saw that the turnout for voters under the age of 30 and Black Americans double," Democratic strategist Tom Bonier said.
Bonier also explains that national voter turnout and voter turnout in key suburban areas spiked during the heat of police killings throughout the summer. As time went on, support for the Black Lives Matter movement spiked as well as and the push to defund the police emerged. Simply put, the slogans and movements that Reps. Richmond, Clyburn and others condemned may have spurred voter turnout and be the reason the party gains control of the Capitol.
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