The Minneapolis “Defund the Police” ballot question is a direct attack on law enforcement and Democratic values.
The chicago news is a recent article that discusses the Defund the Police ballot question in Minneapolis. The article argues that the decision to pass this ballot question should alarm Democrats nationwide, as it could lead to police departments across the country being defunded.
Aside from New Yorkers choosing who will lead America’s biggest city, the governorship contests in New Jersey and Virginia are expected to dominate election night media attention. Exit surveys and vote data will be sliced and diced by pundits in search of hints about what this all means for the crucial 2022 midterm elections, as well as the 2024 presidential campaign.
However, there is one topic on the Minneapolis ballot in November that may be more important than any of these high-profile races: Question 2, often known as the “Defunding the Police” referendum.
This contentious ballot measure, which was sparked by the murder of George Floyd by former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin last year, asks voters to decide whether to essentially dismantle and defund the city’s current police department, replacing it with a “Department of Public Safety” that would “perform public safety functions through a comprehensive public health approach to be determined by the Mayor and Council.”
The ballot measure, which is backed by a progressive coalition known as “Yes on Question 2,” states that “in the majority of situations where people need help, a police officer is not the appropriate response,” and that the mayor and city council will be able to “remove a requirement for the city to maintain an armed police-only model of safety.”
Despite the fact that Minneapolis is a progressive, Democratic bastion, the question will ultimately reveal how much clout the “defund the cops” movement has in a city where gun violence is spiraling out of control.
Long before the death of George Floyd, there had been a small but vocal contingent of racial-justice activists in many large US cities, including Minneapolis, who argued that a large portion of the annual $100 billion in taxpayer dollars used to prop up police departments across the country could be better spent reimagining what public safety might look like.
These reformers, led by organizations like Black Lives Matter, believe that redistributing funds — which typically account for the lion’s share of city budgets — could result in better net outcomes in urban areas if all or a significant portion of funds were directed toward a variety of smart community initiatives, after-school programs for students, and public housing efforts.
Police agencies, according to activists, are generally failing in their goal to make communities safer by addressing just the symptoms, such as crime, rather than the underlying core causes. Some argue that police agencies are essentially civilian-led paramilitaries that have worsened inner-city issues, particularly among communities of color, and that it is long past time to limit or even abolish their position in society.
Last month, a survey conducted by PBS’ Frontline in collaboration with other local news organizations found that Minneapolis voters are equally divided on the subject of police defunding, with a majority saying that they would prefer to do away with the MPD. However, it remains to be seen how much of this rhetoric converts into real yes votes on election day. According to the same survey, the ballot initiative has failed to garner overwhelming support from the majority of Black voters in Minneapolis.
I, like many other Americans of all racial and cultural origins, was horrified by the full show of police violence in the immediate aftermath of George Floyd’s murder. Floyd’s murder acted as a wake-up call for the need for police reform in my situation since I had two young mixed-race children. As a liberal but moderate Democrat, though, I see both practical and political dangers in going too far too soon to confront police brutality. And I’m not the only one.
The ‘defund the cops’ ballot issue is creating a political rift amongst Minnesota Democrats. Rep. Ilhan Omar and Attorney General Keith Ellison, two of Minnesota’s most well-known progressives, support the ballot proposal, but other prominent Democrats, like Sen. Amy Klobuchar and Gov. Tim Walz, vehemently oppose it. On a national level, the Minneapolis ballot issue will be the first test of how far the big-city police department reform movement has progressed ahead of the midterm elections in 2022. The stakes for Democrats across the ideological spectrum could not be higher.
The rift between Minneapolis Democrats’ moderate and progressive wings mirrors a larger national divide, as the Democratic centrist elite confronts growing pressure from a highly motivated and insurgent progressive side. If Minneapolis voters opt to replace their police department with an ill-defined public safety agency, the outcome may have national ramifications for Democrats, who are already fighting an uphill struggle in the 2022 midterm elections.
Republican strategists are salivating at the prospect of filming TV commercials in tough 2022 House and Senate contests that portray Democrats as a party out of touch when it comes to fundamental matters like preserving order and ensuring public safety, even in the face of record crime rates.
If the “yes” option on Question 2 on the Minneapolis ballot passes, the national political fallout may be enormous. Fortunately, some Democrats, particularly those in purple swing districts targeted for takeback by the National Republican Congressional Committee, are aware of this.
Even though her district does not contain Minneapolis, Democratic Rep. Angie Craig of Minnesota’s 2nd District, which encompasses suburbs of the Twin Cities, knows that the political runoff from the defund ballot proposal into her own race may be important. Craig has called the vote on police defunding “shortsighted, foolish, and likely to damage the same communities it purports to protect.”
This much is clear: despite their outspokenness, Democrats who support the “defund the cops” campaign share beliefs that the majority of Americans across the ideological spectrum find scary. If a progressive bastion like Minneapolis votes to defund its police force, it will send shockwaves across the political system and provide Republicans with a potent talking point.
Minneapolis will be portrayed as a lawless city, and Democrats will be held responsible. This is a story arc that will perfectly fit the Republican narrative that Democrats aren’t very adept at governing in the first place.
Do you need more proof? Republicans will just refer to Congress as an example. Despite having control of both the executive and legislative branches of government, President Joe Biden’s domestic agenda has already been stymied by Democratic infighting. We can see a whole party preparing for significant voter reaction in 2022, especially given the Biden Administration’s catastrophic handling of the military departure from Afghanistan on the foreign policy front.
Democrats will already have a difficult time in 2022. And the Minneapolis ballot question “Question 2” may make things much worse.
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