The most militant activists in and around the Black Lives Matter movement continue to hector Biden to adopt strenuously radical demands such as defund the police. So far, he has refused. Excellent. There is no reason for him to do so. He doesn't need the votes of these hyper-activists, since they are few in number, and as for the people these activists claim they represent, he already has strong support across the board. He doesn't need to embrace defund the police to get their votes. And most of all, he just needs to keep the support he's already built up among suburban, moderate, older and white noncollege voters to win a smashing victory. A ringing call to defund the police will only undercut, not build, the Biden coalition.
The fact of the matter is that people aren't interested in getting rid of their current police force--as defund the police implies--and somehow replacing it with a new one. In a recent Quinnipiac poll, just 14 percent supported eliminating and replacing their current police department, while 81 percent were opposed. Even among black voters, the split was only 32 percent for/61 percent against.
In the same poll, 67 percent of voters said they supported the ongoing George Floyd protests. What that means--making the reasonable assumption that all eliminate and replace voters also supported the protests--is that 4 in 5 protest supporters do not want to get rid of and replace their current police force.
So defund the police just doesn't cut it with American voters. And, no it doesn't work to explain what the slogan "really means" is providing some more money for social services and changing the mix of police activities, etc, etc. If you're explaining, you're losing.
From the Politico article on this controversy:
"During the primaries, Biden bet everything on winning overwhelming support from African American voters, who eventually reversed the near collapse of his campaign in the first three states.
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.”
Amen, you don't and Biden doesn't and that's a very good thing!