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If you can remember life before Corona, there was a time when it appeared the democrats might have a progressive candidate on the top of their ticket. Bernie Sanders had a few wins in a row and a commanding lead. Then South Carolina Representative Jim Clyburn endorsed Joe Biden, before the primary of his state. With a large black population in the state, and with Clyburn, an influential black voice's support, Biden crushed South Carolina. Then the DNC machine made some calls. Amy Klobuchar, and Pete Buttigieg-who won the Iowa primary-both dropped out days before Super Tuesday. As Elizabeth Warren and Sanders split the progressive vote. Biden was the only moderate horse to bet on, and he practically swept Super Tuesday. Then Covid-19 hit and with Biden holding a substantial lead, the DNC could not wait to delay/close down the elections and all but assume Biden would be their candidate in November. And the Democratic establishment exhaled of a sigh of blah.
Many viewed Biden as the safe bet, not the risky progressive/socialist voice. But safe is not exciting, and the polls and passion showed it. But there was Corona, and President Trump's response to it was a misstep, every step of the way. He ignored the warnings, he downplayed the risk, and people were died. And even with this tremendous screw up, Biden only had a five-point lead. Biden needed something to garner momentum and he got it with the death of George Floyd.
Handcuffed, pleading for his mom, with a cop's knee on his neck, no one could argue what groups like Black Lives Matter has been saying for years-cops were unjustly killing black men. (Well maybe some opportunists like Candace Owens could, but people with souls did not.) And now Biden and the DNC had the issue that they saw would catapult them to victory in November-systematic racism. Trump is already painted by the left as a racist-and has helped to validify that criticism over the years. With Biden being the Vice President for President Barack Obama, the first black president, and major support from the black community, why not dance with the one who brought ya?
So instead of just speaking out against the death of George Floyd, the campaign decided to support and embrace the goals of groups like Black Lives Matter. They downplayed the severity of the riots, the destruction and the death, as just a few bad actors. And when they needed more stories to keep the fire burning, the left-leaning media would present narratives before the facts were all out, and stick to them even after their narrative had been disproven. This was their deal, but Faust would be the first to tell you, when you make a deal with the devil, he tends to not hold up his end of the bargain. As focus groups show the electorate is not comfortable with months of rioting and cities destroyed. And that this factor is helping Trump close the gap, to an almost a tie in some battleground states, the Neolibs show their true integrity now by trying to distance themselves from the riots. But is it all too late? Are the twenty percent independent voters really going to connect Trump to the riots and not the party that embraced them for an entire summer? Is it even too late to try to pivot away from the protests/riots now? Will the attempt to distance themselves, land as dishonest and lack integrity and in the end cost them more votes and secure the victory for Trump on November 3rd?
Now to be clear before we continue this is an oped, I am not examining my personal opinions of these issues, but how the electorate might be viewing them. This is a commentary on if this tactic will help or hurt Biden and the Democrats come November. For the sake of full disclosure, I am voting for Biden and totally believe systematic racism exists and needs to be eliminated. This essay is out of concern that this move might cost Biden the election. I encourage and love debates, but please let's not resort to facebook style insults, or assume I am some Trump supporter laughing at the left.
Also, it is all too easy to regard everything that has happened in these protests/riots as the work of BLM, but I find that also dishonest. There are bad actors, splinter groups, and people operating of their own accord. It will be slanderous to talk about every action that has happened over the last few months as representative of BLM, and so this work will not. Out of respect I will refer to these actions as "the movement". It is all encompassing, I know, but I do not want to credit BLM with actions and motives they do not support or were not behind. This is not a criticism of BLM, so let's not unintentionally do so.
The first of the goals the "movement" and the left along with Biden supported, aside from police reform was the tearing down of confederate statues. Something that should have been done years ago, and in fact should have never even existed. Even conservative pundits like Ben Shapiro were for the removal of these statues. No matter what southern apologists could try to argue for the cause of the civil war, it is impossible to deny the confederacy were secessionists and traitors and why should praise be shown to them? Trump early on argued against it and that they were our history, and what was next, remove statues of Jefferson, and Washington? People laughed at his claim, and thought Trump was just talking crazy again. Then the movement went for the statues of Jefferson and Washington. Actions was called to remove statues of the founding fathers, the Lincoln statue and the Grant statue were both defaced. Shaun King called for the removal of statues of white Jesus. An attack on the separation of church and state, and then churches were in fact attacked. Princeton removed Woodrow Wilson's name from their school and buildings. Now Biden to his credit had a respectable position: that any institution should have the choice to remove any name they want. He also said that there is a distinction between Washington and Jefferson owning slaves that were legal at the time, and confederates that wanted to leave a union for the power of keeping slaves. He also felt the government should protect statues revering people for other accomplishments like Columbus or Washington. However, how many of the electorate know he actual feels that way? Most Americans understand the founders were flawed men, but they were still the founders. Washington, Jefferson, and Lincoln are all men most Americans still view as heroes. What will carry more weight for a voter proud of American history: Biden making an intellectual and well thought out answer once, or Trump standing in front of Mount Rushmore on Fourth of July, with fireworks going off behind him, declaring statues of our great leaders will never be removed under his watch? These highlights the far to common weakness of the democrats: to be right on the message, but wrong on the messaging.
Another example of being wrong on messaging was the call to "Defund the Police." I'm sure I'm not the only one who spent countless posts explaining what defund the police actually meant-to redistribute money and resources to other to departments. But doesn't that show the problem in the messaging? Why not "redistribute funds" why not "demilitarize the police." Why promote a saying giving the impression of getting rid of the police when that was not at all the intent? Why give the impression to voters that there was a campaign to get rid of the institution of the police? Based on a gallup poll only 15% are for the abolishment of the police department. It also does not help when some voices on the left are actually calling for the abolishment of the police. Mariame Kaba wrote an editorial in the New York Times about it. Alexandria Ocasio-Ortez felt Mayor Bill de Blasio proposed one billion dollar cut (one-sixth of the current budget) did not go far enough. There has already been some actions toward this goal. Minneapolis has proposed disbanded their police department to be voted on later. Seattle cut their budget by ten percent. What has been the result? The black female police chief of Seattle resigned, and the crime rate has gone up in major cities like Minneapolis and New York City. It appears the voters do want a restructuring of the police, but not an abolishment, or so little funding to do the job successfully. They want better police, not no police.
It can appear election wise this is not a popular idea overall, and seeing the crime rate shoot up, only hurts the idea more. So where does Biden stand? Biden proposed spending $300 million more to restructure police departments. And if one feels police should have more training in the academy, more psych exams, better screening, essentially to have better police officers, that will all cost more money. His position, again like with the statues, is more in line with what the majority of voters feel. But again, like the statues, is his position landing? When democratic cities are currently defunding the police, democratic politicians are calling for it, does Biden message carry through or is it guilt by association? With Trump and the RNC at their convention saying Biden wants to get rid of cops which message is resonating with the average voter that does not want to abolish the police? How many of the average voters when they see the violence and rioting going on in the cities is agreeing with the concept of eliminating the police department?
These protests do not appear to be a problem if we continue to dismiss the violence and destruction of them. To date there have been over 30 deaths and 8 billion dollars in damage since protests started in response to the death of George Floyd. Yet, it is argued that around 93% of the protests have been non-violent. The irony of this defense is not lost on me. So, the pundits on the left will admit that 7% of the protests are violent. Now, by no data out there will it be claimed that 7% of police officers have killed unarmed black men, yet these protests are directed at the institution of the police force as a whole. So to make the hypocrisy clearer, people protesting a group as a whole, because of the actions of a few, do not like their group as a whole being judged by the actions of a few. At the least the protestors should be able to concede the power that the actions of a few bad apples can have in destroying the image of an entire establishment. If a small percentage of cops killing black people can warrant a push to reform the entire system, should not also some deaths and a significant financial loss from the "movement's" riots allow some to feel the "movement" needs reform. Now if you feel these means of death and destruction justify the ends for change that is a respectable position. This country was founded on people who felt war was worth it for their independence. That another war was worth it to free black people from slavery. However, both causes admit that those were wars. The founding fathers did not say the protests with the British crown were mostly peaceful. They said it was a revolution. To deny this violence and destruction does nothing but discredit the movement in front of the undecided voter. No image sums in up more than of the CNN reporter in front of a city on fire with a chiron reading "Fiery But Mostly Peaceful Protests After Police Shooting."
Biden has spoken out against the violence of the protests, but it has had as much impact as a whisper at a concert. Again, while his position might be valid, he represents the democrats, and in turn the democrats represent him. Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan allowed several of her city blocks to be overrun for a month. Portland has been a city of unrest for over 100 days. When Trump sent federal officers, Ted Wheeler, the mayor of Portland said, "we do not need or want their help." And the governor of Portland, Kate Brown, called them an occupying force. Would it surprise you that Wheeler, Brown, and Durkan, are all democrats? It could have been for ideological reason, or just to oppose anything Trump has his hands on, or both, but the democrats have refused federal help to their cities. Now Trump did offer these democratic leaders a way to get help and keep their hands clean. The Insurrection Act does not require help to be requested to send in federal troops. The violence could be stopped, and the democratic leaders could say they had nothing to do with it. However, when he floated this idea these same leaders fought him on that, making it clear that it was not just the image of Trump coming to their aide they were against. They in fact supported these protests and the violence and would rather watch their cities burn. The general public does not view them as Trump's riots, the view them as the left's riots, because democratic leaders have allowed it. For a while it appeared the left did not care to be tied to these riots, until polling came out showing 77% of Americans are against the rioting. What political move is left after they appeared in support of the protests for months? The only card they have left is the biggest gamble: misrepresentation.
The events of Kenosha are two examples of blatant misrepresentation. The first was the actual shooting of Jacob Blake. Now, I am not at all saying the actual shooting was justified. In fact, I think this is a real lesson for police departments that refuse to equip their officers with body cameras. Because the only argument to even possibly justify seven shots to the back would be if Blake actually grabbed the knife that was found in the SUV and attempted to swing it at the officers, and only then did they choose to fire. The fact that a knife was found in the SUV is not enough proof that he was going to use it. However, the two videos from the incident are from a distance that do not show what he was doing inside the car. People on the right assume he was going for that knife, the left say no, but the fact is there is no evidence to show he did. However, if officers had body cameras on, and if Blake were going for the knife, there would be some footage showing it. As of now, no conclusive evidence has been presented that he was intending to use that weapon, so I cannot see any defense for this officer. For the sake of clarity, am I not saying that shooting was justified, or that that was the misrepresentation.
The misrepresentation was the original story presented in the press as to why the police were brought onto the scene. It was first reported that Jacob Blake was just driving along with his children and saw two women fighting outside, when he decided to stop and break up the fight. The police were responding to a call about the women fighting and when they got there and racially profiled Blake and went for him. He avoided them, went to the car to check on his children, and then the officers fired on him. A narrative that shows the systematic racism of the police, assuming the worst of a black male, and going after him, when he was trying to help the situation. And this good Samaritan for his deeds got shot seven times. Solid narrative to play on our heartstrings of those of us against racism and motivate the "movement." And a narrative that is a complete fabrication.
The truth is that Jacob Blake sexually assaulted an ex-girlfriend by digitally penetrating her. The woman then had a restraining order placed against him. There was a warrant out for his arrest. That day when he showed up at her house, violating the restraining order, she called the police specifically for him, and they were told there was a warrant out for him. All of this was easily proven by simply looking at court records, and the actual audio of the dispatcher. It did not take a Woodward and Bernstein type of investigation to crack this case. Pretty much standard reporting would have done this. But instead the media did not even bother. What they did was print up the story Blake's defense lawyer told them. Since when do journalist use the story given by the defendant's lawyer as the narrative of what happened? This type of journalism and research should cost one a job, nevermind should it get published. But that was the initial narrative, and people usually form opinions from their first impression. Then the truth struggles to convince people otherwise, even with obvious facts on its side. But why did the media to this?
The answer is obvious. They feel the character of Blake would be used to minimize the shootings. And here is something both the right and left need to learn: the character of a person is completely irrelevant to judging if a shooting is justified or not. Do I believe Blake sexually assaulted this woman even though there was no trial, well I believe it as much as I believe most victims who come forward so yes, I side with her. This is not a story of someone doing it years later, as their assaulter rises to prominence and can be construed as possibly lying for financial gain. And even if he is innocent, he still had a restraining order against him and should not have been there. And still even though I believe his victim, and believe he should not have been there, I still also believe he should not have been shot. If we are going to debate the law, we debate facts, evidence, and the actual law. We do not debate character and emotions. The media could have told the truth and still argued the shooting was not justified and not lost any credibility. But it would not play on our heartstrings as much, anger those who seek racial justice, and rally more protests. The media is not trying to report the facts here, they are trying to win an election. But did this really help to get Trump out of office? To unbiased readers it appears another example of "fake news" that only strengthens Trump. And we know have the image of WNBA players honoring a sexual assaulter's name on their jerseys.
As the media spun a false narrative and misrepresented the character of someone in a brighter light to support the "movement", it would also attacked the character of someone who was against the "movement" in another shooting in the riots days later in Kenosha-Kyle Rittinghouse. Rittinghouse is a seventeen-year-old who supports the police, wants to be a cop and sat first row at a Trump rally. He embraced everything the "movement" would be against. He also killed two people at a riot with the use of an AR-15, the gun that is the symbol for those pushing for gun restrictions. And of course, he is white. He was the poster-boy for everything the "movement" was against. So even after already 30 deaths in these riots, the two deaths from his hand became the focus of mainstream liberal news outlets, and the ire of left-wing supporters. Other deaths before were not clear of the allegiance of the killers. But Rittinghouse left no room for debate. It was time to pile on this murderer-even if the video evidence showed he acted in self-defense.
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