Please don’t say “Defund the Police”

Words matter.

Yes, the goal of “defund the police” — as anyone who is knowledgeable is aware — is to shift resources so police aren’t handling every single problem, many of which do not require a gun. It’s about getting rid of the military gear they don’t need and which, to be honest, is exactly what we’re protesting. It’s about retraining them and reorganizing them.

It’s the exact same thing that has been proposed for the past 100 years or so every time there is a major riot but which, for some reason, never seems to happen.defund-the-police

But the words — the words are the problem.

People hear “defund the police” and they think “And replace it with anarchy?  And have no police at all?”  And that’s not what it means.

But now we have to explain it. And words matter.

Politics is as much about advertising as anything else. You need to sell your product to the public.

Having a slogan that can be misinterpreted and abused by your opponent is not the way to sell your product.

There was a poll done a while ago where people were asked whether they supported Obamacare. A large percentage said no. The exact same people were then asked if they liked the Affordable Care Act, and the exact same people were in favor of it.

Words matter.

Note: This is NOT the same thing as watering down your policy to appease moderates. If you’ve read my blog over the past eight years or so, you know I do not believe in that — I think our views are the majority ones and we should stand by them.

This is only about the words used to accomplish those goals.

Do I like the fact that you can sell politics like you do toothpaste? No, of course not. But dammit, when I got my Political Science degree, and when I worked on campaigns as a campaign manager and also as a media contact for campaigns, I knew this was the case. Image is more important than reality. What you say is often more important than what you do. If you refuse to acknowledge that, you lose.

You will note that Biden and other politicians know this too, which is why they are avoiding the phrase “defund the police” while still agreeing with everything we’re saying about reforming the police.

We’re not giving anything up by using terms to help us win while avoiding words that could cause us to lose. Being stubborn about using the term “defund” (no matter how correct it may be) might hurt our cause.

EDIT to clarify (based on comments made on my Facebook page):  I am talking about political candidates and their operatives, not protesters. Protesters bringing this to everyone’s attention is a good thing. Protesters can also chant “Fuck Trump” all they want, but I would also advise any candidate to not use that slogan, either.