After their party’s disappointing down-ballot performance, moderate Democrats in swing districts and purple states across the country are engaged in some serious soul-searching…and some serious self-deception.
They are blaming their party’s radical wing and extreme slogans like “Defund The Police” for turning voters away.
Pennsylvania Rep. Connor Lamb, for example, says he is “extremely frustrated” by leftist messages like defunding the police “because those things aren’t just unpopular, they’re completely unrealistic, and they aren’t going to happen.”
Not going to happen?
That’s news to New York City police officers, especially after the recent “defund” madness reduced our ranks to a 10-year low.
And after we’ve seen wave after wave of legislation that undermines our work and prevents us from doing our job safely and effectively – all of it passed with supposed moderates voting in favor.
It would also be news to the New Yorkers who have watched police response times tick up while shootings and murders spiral out of control.
Or to the New Yorkers who heard their Mayor roll out — with great fanfare and support from the city’s political class — a plan to stop the bloodshed without the “occupying army mindset,” code for turning his back on the NYPD’s 20-plus years of success in driving shootings down.
The bullets are still flying, but we’ve heard nothing further about it from the Mayor or the party-machine politicians whose constituents are suffering.
Here’s the truth: radicals like Bill de Blasio have been able to screw up public safety only because their more middle-of-the-road colleagues helped them do it.
So the swing district moderates who lost or almost lost last week need to be honest with themselves and the public:
You didn’t lose because the wrong slogan was on the protest signs. You didn’t lose because of something “they” said.
You lost because of the things you did or didn’t do – specifically, your votes in favor of bad public safety policies and your deafening silence while police officers were being attacked and demonized — and, in New York especially, the way those actions and inactions affected your constituents.
That’s exactly what happened in our local Congressional and State Senate campaigns. Democratic candidates tied themselves in knots, trying to escape the anti-police movement without bumping into their own anti-police record.
Did Rep. Max Rose oppose City Hall’s NYPD budget cuts? He did. But only because he doesn’t work in City Hall and doesn’t have to face down the radicals there.
In the U.S. Capitol, where he actually works, Rep. Rose and other moderates voted with the radicals to hold federal law enforcement funding hostage to a laundry list of demands, including an ill-conceived and unworkable use of force standard that is bound to get police officers hurt.
Meanwhile, moderates in the New York State Senate were doing the same two-step with their disastrous cashless bail and discovery reform laws.
Take Sen. Kevin Thomas, who wrote when he sought the PBA’s endorsement: “Bail reform: I voted for it in the budget last year. I have been working since on fixing it.”
Thomas apparently wanted credit for partially fixing something that he helped completely break in the first place. Nassau County voters refused to give him that credit, especially after the original law let a serial bank robber and lethal drunk driver loose on their streets.
And that’s the central problem with swing-district Democrats deflecting blame onto the anti-police “message.” Voters are not your campaign consultants – they don’t care if your message is carefully calibrated.
What voters care about are results. If they hear you say “I support safe streets” on TV, then look out their window to see crime, disorder and unrest on their own streets, they’ll know neither your message nor your actions are getting the right results.
If the moderate Democrats who survived the backlash don’t want to be saddled with “defund the police” and other radical slogans, they need to stop helping put those slogans into practice.
They need to stand up, say no and — most importantly — vote no. And next time they say “I support the safe streets,” they won’t be messaging. They’ll be telling the truth.