Are both Joe Biden and Donald Trump “misreading” the current political situation? Or is Politico? Ryan Lizza and Laura Barrón-López spend a lot of time arguing that Biden should fully embrace the Black Lives Matter agenda, especially its “boldest proposals,” arguing that the time is right for radical change to get mainstreamed:
The spasms of vandalism and theft that marked some of the early protests have diminished, replaced by the targeted toppling of statues memorializing the Confederacy. Mitt Romney marched in Washington and said, “Black Lives Matter.” Polls reflected a seismic shift in the electorate’s attitudes: 76 percent of the public say racism and discrimination is a major problem, up from 68 percent in 2016. Seventy-one percent of white people agree.
This itself is a significant misreading of the situation. The violence has not yet fully abated; just ask Portland about that, as well as other cities. The topping of statues hasn’t been targeted in any sense of the word. Anarchists just took down statues of George Washington in more than one place, who was hardly a Confederate figure. Neither was Abraham Lincoln, but “protesters” targeted him as well, even though the monument was built by freed slaves as a memorial to the Great Emancipator. In Madison, they tore down the statue of Hans Christian Heg, who died in the Civil War on the Union side at Chickamauga, a staunch abolitionist to the end.
That one paragraph in the Politico piece suggests either an ill-informed supposition or a deliberately obtuse framing that undermines their central point. And that continues:
The Black Lives Matter movement now has majority support.
The expected revolt of white suburbanites against the protests hasn’t materialized. Instead, they’ve joined them.
Does the BLM agenda have majority support, or just the slogan? After all, their premise is that Biden’s risking everything by only embracing the movement and not the “boldest proposals” of BLM. That might include items like reparations, stripping Confederate names from military bases, and defunding the police. However, an ABC/Ipsos poll taken last week made it clear that most Americans actually oppose the first two initiatives:
Almost three-quarters of Americans (73%) think the federal government should not ‘pay money to black Americans whose ancestors were slaves as compensations for that slavery’.
Only about one in eight white Americans (14%) support reparations compared to three-quarters of African Americans (72%). Democrats are split on reparations (54% should, 45% should not), with the majority of Republicans (94%) and Independents (82%) opposed.
Two different polls last week also showed Americans opposed to defunding or abolishing the police. In the Economist/YouGov poll, only 39% of black voters favored “defunding,” and only 22% supported “abolishing” the police. Quinnipiac found an overall majority opposed to “defunding” (41/54), with urbanites opposed 44/51 , suburbanites opposed 46/48, and majorities of whites (37/58) and Hispanics (42/55) opposed.
So, on what basis do the authors claim that white suburbanites have “joined” the protests? Perhaps white urban residents have, but we haven’t seen a lot of evidence for that either. In fact, there isn’t a lot of evidence for the specific claims made in these statements, except perhaps on Twitter — which isn’t reality, political or otherwise.
That’s what Team Biden tried to gently explain to Lizza and Barrón-López:
Biden’s advisers were often less attentive — and sometimes downright dismissive — of certain obsessions of the social media left. Biden did not discuss white privilege the way Kirsten Gillibrand did. He didn’t endorse reparations or the legalization of marijuana when some of his chief rivals did. He stubbornly insisted that the two most important primary constituencies were political moderates and older working class African-Americans, two groups without much influence online. The Biden campaign’s unspoken primary slogan could have been, “Twitter isn’t real life.”
This cautiousness and skepticism has spilled into the general election. One way to think of the Biden campaign’s navigation of racial issues is that he and his advisers care a lot more about addressing policy demands than they do about addressing cultural issues.
“There is a conversation that’s going on on Twitter that they don’t care about,” one Democratic strategist observed. “They won the primary by ignoring all of that. The Biden campaign does not care about the critical race theory-intersectional left that has taken over places like the New York Times. You can be against chokeholds and not believe in white fragility. You can be for reforming police departments and don’t necessarily have to believe that the United States is irredeemably racist.”
We might all be better off if more politicians ignored Twitter “conversations.” Twitter isn’t representative of the electorate, and it’s not predictive either. If it were, we’d be debating President Hillary Clinton’s re-election campaign strategies rather than Biden’s challenge to Trump.
Lizza and Barrón-López should listen more closely to their strategist source. Most Americans don’t care about the “the critical race theory-intersectional left,” except to the extent that they have “taken over places like the New York Times.” Biden no doubt doesn’t mind taking advantage of the turmoil as long as it damages Trump, but unless he’s brain dead, he’s not going to embrace that radical intersectional Left. Otherwise, welcome back to 1968, as one adviser told Politico:
“The first thought of someone my age is Nixon and law and order,” said an adviser to Biden, who is white and in his late 60s and admitted concern early on that the protests could benefit Trump.
Indeed. Donald Trump didn’t just take up the “law and order” mantra because he’s a big fan of Jerry Orbach and Sam Waterston. The riots and continuing violence make that a compelling argument, and thus far majorities of Americans are opposed to the radical-deconstruction agenda of the far Left when it comes to policing. Maybe the only people misreading the situation are at Politico.