Did everyone get last week's elections wrong?
A word on civil rights and the "woke" backlash, if there is one
Hi, Ari here — today, I want to talk to you about last week’s elections and some misplaced narratives coming from them.
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Not all elections are “referendums”
Last week’s elections have spawned a series of “hot takes” and overreactions. There’s evidence that many of those reactions are wrong.
There is ample evidence that Democrats didn’t “completely blow it,” as we discussed recently on The Beat. (You can see that report here.)
Then, there’s another take going around that I want to tackle today, in a quick newsletter post. That’s the idea that “woke” issues and civil rights advocacy sunk many Democrats.
This one matters. Narratives can turn into conventional wisdom, and before you know it, people just assume something can’t be done because it’s “bad politics.” Or whatever. I work in media, so believe me, this happens!
Who you calling woke?
We are over a year out from the BLM resurgence after the police murder of George Floyd. Much remains the same — like the rate that police use deadly force — and other things are changing, including more indictments of questionable killings; state reform; new people in office; and a push for federal reform (which passed the House). But there’s not much evidence that BML “militants,” or the “defund” crowd, are in charge of the Democratic Party, or running for many offices.
If anything, that wing of the Left has become more of a political target that is overemphasized by its opponents, or by centrists who argue those positions turn off voters, and thus hurt Democrats in elections.
A few quick points:
Whatever one thinks happened in the Virginia race, it was the same outcome that the incumbent party has experienced since President Bush Senior. So it’s hard to pin that all on new activism.
Democrats ran a centrist in Virginia, former Clinton fundraiser and DNC Chair McAuliffe. When a centrist loses, how is that a referendum on woke politics he doesn’t support? (It isn’t.)
If you want a local barometer for these issues, look at races that actually focused on them.
Minneapolis held an (unusual) vote on replacing police with a public safety department, 44% of voters backed it, and 56% opposed it. That is a clear loss for that level of police reform, and also a large shift towards a more critical police policy, compared to polling in past years. It does not suggest a giant backlash in that city.
Meanwhile, other developments suggest progress for civil rights activism (whatever you call it):
Prosecutors initially charged the officer who killed Floyd, Derek Chauvin, with third degree murder based on past precedent. But that precedent is suspect, argued many critics, and under pressure the A.G. deployed special prosecutor powers in the trial, upgraded the charges to second degree, and won.
Four states have now reformed police immunity to give alleged victims of police brutality access to the courts.
The U.S. House passed the George Floyd Policing Act.
Several localities have elected new D.A.s pledge wider reforms, including Manhattan, which elected Alvin Bragg, a Black D.A., last week.
I wanted to keep this post brief with a clear takeaway so I will keep it moving. These are just some examples of how the broader picture may be more mixed than the hot takes.
I didn't watch any news show last week except The Beat. I'm so tired of listening to pundits making lasts week's elections the end of the Democrats. So glad you explained things so much clearer. After the bill passing on Friday/ Saturday I'm not losing faith that they can get their message out to the voters. Your show was wonderful tonight. Starting with the Big Bird drama was really funny. You interview with professor Dyson was eye opening, loved his last word, "Thanks Ari for holding up the blood stained banner of truth". Which you do every night. Thanks for keeping us informed and making us smile.😀 God bless you!!!🙏
Ari as usual you're right on top of the situation that's why I watch you every night regardless. You cover the subjects very well and quite thorough and your Love of music and all of your guests are great. As far as the article I could go on and on but I don't have time. I'm sure there will be a day that I put in lots of $0.02 on different subjects but until then thank you and keep up the great work!
PS the open carry in New York is a subject on the table right now and that one is one if you cover I will get in on trust me.