House Majority Whip James Clyburn criticized calls to “defund the police” Sunday, saying that the phrase hurt Democratic congressional candidates and could potentially derail the Black Lives Matter movement, reports USA Today. Clyburn told CNN that he’d spoken with the late Rep. John Lewis about the phrase this summer, the two concluding “that it had the possibilities of doing to the Black Lives Matter movement and current movements across the country what ‘Burn, baby, burn’ did to us back in 1960.” Clyburn, a prominent student activist during the civil rights movement, has denounced calls to “defund the police” as “sloganeering” that harms the overall cause of the Black Lives Matter movement. Clyburn cited calls to “defund the police” as a reason why Democrats lost races for Congress in the election, saying “these headlines can kill a political effort.”
While the suburbs in many parts of the country seemed to reject President Donald Trump’s brand of brash, hard-right rhetoric and policy, several Republican candidates in New York appeared to find success by characterizing moderate Democrats in swing districts as anti-law enforcement, reports the New York Times. That message was often conflated with calls from the left to “defund the police” and with occasionally violent clashes between authorities and Black Lives Matter protesters. “The woke movement awakened the cultural conservative in a lot of voters,” said William F. B. O’Reilly, a Republican political consultant in New York. “The left overreached.” In several of New York’s swing districts, voters, many of them older and white, appeared receptive to Republicans’ law-and-order message and the perception that the Democratic Party was run by the far left and was singularly obsessed with defeating the president.