Washington Examiner

Biden ditches ‘woke’ crime policies, but not all Dems agree.

President Biden’s Delicate Balancing Act on Police Reform

“‘I can’t breathe. I can’t breathe.’ George Floyd’s last words. But they didn’t die with him. They’re still being heard. They’re echoing across this nation,”

When President Joe Biden was elected in 2020, he campaigned as a supporter of the racial justice protests that broke out following George Floyd’s death in police custody. He made Floyd’s death central to his battle for the “soul of the nation.” However, three years after Floyd’s killing gripped the country, Biden is trying to gently nudge the Democratic Party away from “defund the police” and other progressive causes that damaged the party down-ballot, even as he won the White House while at the same time holding on to the coalition that elected him.

Biden’s Influence on the Democratic Party

The president’s influence on the rest of his party has been mixed. Candidates who were deemed tougher on crime won Democratic primaries for mayor in New York City and Philadelphia, but more lenient progressives were elected mayor in Los Angeles and Chicago. The latter result was especially surprising given a violent crime wave in Chicago that has received national attention.

Instead, Biden has often accused Republicans of wanting to defund the police. That was a core argument the White House made against the House-passed bill during the debt ceiling standoff, calling the GOP measure “the biggest vote to defund law enforcement in American history.”

Biden’s Reelection Bid

Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris will seek reelection amid signs of flagging enthusiasm among black voters and with crime still a major issue with the broader electorate. A Washington Post/Ipsos poll of black voters found 49% said Biden’s policies made no difference to their community while 58% said they made no difference to them personally.

Remembering how these issues have hurt Democrats in the past, Biden won’t go as “woke” on crime or immigration enforcement as the most liberal members of his party. Neither can he ignore the coalition that elected him the first time.

Biden’s Stance on Police Reform

Biden marked the third anniversary of Floyd’s death by vetoing a congressional attempt to overturn police reforms enacted by the Washington, D.C. city council. “The Congress should respect the District of Columbia’s right to pass measures that improve public safety and public trust,” Biden said in the message to Congress accompanying his veto. “I continue to call on the Congress to pass common-sense police reform legislation. Therefore, I am vetoing this resolution.”

But not long before that, Biden stunned many Democratic lawmakers by signing similar legislation reversing a D.C. crime bill that lightened sentences for certain offenses. “I support D.C. Statehood and home-rule — but I don’t support some of the changes D.C. Council put forward over the Mayor’s objections — such as lowering penalties for carjackings,” Biden tweeted ahead of the Democratic-controlled Senate vote to overturn it.

“We should all agree: The answer is not to defund the police. It’s to fund the police,” Biden said in his 2022 State of the Union address as top House Republican leaders applauded. “Fund them. Fund them. Fund them with resources and training.”

The president and his deputies have said the same of GOP efforts to crack down on the FBI and Justice Department in the wake of controversial Trump investigations. They have also pointed to attacks on Capitol police during the Jan. 6 riot.

“Let me say this to my MAGA Republican friends in Congress: Don’t tell me you support law enforcement, if you won’t condemn what happened on the 6th,” Biden said in a speech last year, repeating variations of the multiple times since. “Don’t tell me. You can’t do it. For God’s sake. Whose side are you on?”


Biden’s stance on police reform is a delicate balancing act. He must continue to strike a balance between progressive causes and the coalition that elected him. His influence on the Democratic Party has been mixed, and he must be careful not to go too “woke” on crime or immigration enforcement. As he seeks reelection, he must also address the concerns of black voters and the broader electorate on issues such as crime.

" Conservative News Daily does not always share or support the views and opinions expressed here; they are just those of the writer."

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