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Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

Teixeira: On What Planet Does It Make Sense Not to Condemn Looting?

The following article by Ruy Teixeira, author of The Optimistic Leftist and other works of political analysis, is cross-posted from his blog:

On What Planet Does It Make Sense Not to Condemn Looting?

Not this one. Disappointingly, Democrats, including presumptive nominee Joe Biden, have had great difficulty with this. It should not be hard to condemn policy brutality, racism and looting at the same time. Not to do so makes no moral sense. Think of the working class people who actually live in these trashed neighborhoods. From the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:

“People living in the working-class neighborhood around the epicenter of Wednesday night’s protests, police clashes and riots encountered a changed neighborhood when they ventured outside the next morning.

They saw the stores they relied on for groceries and supplies smashed and burned. They saw fires that had smoldered for hours. Onlookers clogged the streets to take pictures and help clean up the mess. Some loaded up carts with merchandise from Target, Dollar Tree and Cub Foods, which appeared devoid of workers after the Wednesday night crowds broke in.

“It’s very sudden to see how the neighborhood just changed in a period of three, four hours,” said Elizabeth Lopez, holding her 2-year-old daughter outside her home off Lake Street.

“It was a neighborhood that was building new buildings and everything, and then suddenly they were all on fire,” she said. “I don’t understand how peaceful protesting became like a nightmare for this neighborhood.”

Mohamed Abdi saw the chaos unfold from his apartment in the shopping center with Target and Cub Foods that was hit the hardest by the vandalism.

“I’m not safe, you’re not safe,” Abdi said. “I don’t know when the area will be safe again.”

Now that Cub Foods and Target are damaged, he doesn’t know where he’ll get his groceries. He vowed to keep an eye on the entrance to his apartment building for the rest of the day to try to ward off rioters.

“It’s very sad for everybody, for the residential people, the people who work in the area,” he added.”

And it certainly makes no political sense. Yesterday I posted about the strong position Biden has taken in the swing states that will decide the 2020 election. But there are lots of ways this strong position can be undermined. Not condemning looting is one of them. Josh Kraushaar explains, using some of my recently published research with John Halpin:

“Ruy Teixeira and John Halpin, two senior fellows at the liberal Center for American Progress think tank, wrote one of the most trenchant political analyses in recent months. Using data from the in-depth Democracy Fund + UCLA Nationscape surveys designed to capture a nuanced portrait of the American electorate, the two scholars found that there’s a significant cohort of Trump-Biden voters emerging in this year’s election, a persuadable constituency large enough to tip the election.

While the notion of swing voters may sound alien in these partisan times, the analysis showed that nearly one-tenth of Trump voters from the last election are poised to switch sides. They’re a demographically diverse mix: Just one-third make up the popular Trumpian stereotype of working-class white voters, while one-third are white college graduates, and the remainder are nonwhite.

But the most important finding was the ideological makeup of these potential Trump defectors. They identified as economically progressive—supporting higher taxes for the wealthy, a higher minimum wage, and mandated paid family leave—but held markedly conservative positions on a wide array of social and cultural issues.

A whopping 78 percent of these swing voters felt that government should promote family values in society. Nearly two-thirds oppose efforts to ban all guns. And by huge margins, they are opposed to racial reparations and believe there are only two genders. Put simply, this isn’t a politically correct bunch.

It’s worth recalling this data in the wake of the riots and violence in Minneapolis this week, which occurred after a wrenching videotaped incident of police brutality against an unarmed African-American man, George Floyd. The episode brings to the political forefront a polarizing brew of issues surrounding civil rights and law enforcement.

Polls already show most Americans support the arrest of the offending officer, who was charged Friday with third-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter. While the issue has yet to be polled, I’d also expect most Americans would reject the notion that violence is the answer to injustice, and would recoil at the havoc across the country this week.

So I was surprised to see Joe Biden, the Democratic nominee for president, fail to make even a pro forma exhortation against rioting in his heartfelt speech Friday when he called for police reforms and racial reconciliation…..

On my “Against the Grain” podcast this week, I asked Kamala Harris’s former presidential campaign spokesman Ian Sams whether Democrats risked facing a backlash for not condemning the riots. He disagreed. “The riots are obviously unfortunate, but are an outward manifestation of desperate anger that the system is failing large communities of people…..Sams approvingly cited the feedback from a Minneapolis business owner that he saw on television who said he was glad his business burned down. “He said ‘Let it burn’ because this is a point that needed to be made.”

You gotta be kidding me. This is absolutely bonkers. Are these Democrats trying to lose? An honorable exception is Atlanta mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms who said:

“What I see happening on the streets of Atlanta is not Atlanta. This is not a protest. This is not in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. This is chaos,”

Bottoms for Veep? Get a grip here people. I’ll close with this vignette:

“In north Minneapolis, James Clark was among the dozens who stood by as firefighters extinguished what was left of the Fade Factory, a small barbershop on W. Broadway that was fully engulfed. He is the father of Jamar Clark, the black man shot and killed during an encounter with police in 2015, whose death sparked weeks of protest and encampments outside the Fourth Precinct.

“It’s not solving anything, it’s not doing any good. It’s just putting all these different communities in a bad position. They can’t get food or prescription jobs,” he said. “It don’t make no sense.”

Amen. And Democrats shouldn’t be afraid to say so.

2 comments on “Teixeira: On What Planet Does It Make Sense Not to Condemn Looting?

  1. Ken Brociner on

    Teixeira has created a classic strawman here. Perhaps his question should be turned around and asked of him: On what planet are you living on? I have read of and seen countless Democratic/progressive leaders, office holders, and activists say exactly what Teixeira is claiming almost no one is doing – praise the peaceful protests and, at the same time, condemn the looting and destruction.


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