As the movement against police brutality and police-involved murder moves forward, it will have to clarify how it sees the Democratic Party, especially its liberal wing. This has always been a stumbling block for all popular movements in the US, from the old Civil Rights Movement of the 1960s to the present day labor movement (the unions).
A few articles in a recent (12-23-14) issue of the Wall St. Journal – the main newspaper of Corporate America – makes clear what the role of the liberal Democrats is.
The first article is a news report on New York City’s Mayor de Blasio. It writes “de Blasio’s pledge to enact a liberal agenda while leading the nation’s largest city is testing his ability to govern as a representative of the Democratic Party’s activist wing as he moves to heal rifts with the police department…” The article concludes by quoting Steven Cohen, a professor of International and Public Affairs at N.Y.’s Columbia University. “The mayor needs to understand he’s not an advocate anymore. He’s an executive, and that means he has to act more as the mayor of the entire city than as the leader of the faction that helped him become mayor.”
“Giving voice to anger,” vs. “Governing”
The second is an opinion column by William Gallstone, a regular writer for the WSJ. Just the title itself is a giveaway: “How to Stop a Damaging Cycle on Policing… Giving voice to anger when you know your supporters are already angry is irresponsible.”
Gallstone criticizes Patrick Lynch, the head of New York’s Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association: “Giving voice to anger when you know your supporters are already angry is irresponsible…” he writes. Then he criticizes de Blasio for a similar “sin” when he (de Blasio) in effect implied that the police treat young black men differently. “How can the mayor hope to govern effectively, let alone heal his city, if he questions the motives of
those who uphold public order?” he writes.
These articles make it clear: While running for office, a candidate can be “an advocate”, but as mayor he has to “govern”, meaning he has to administer capitalism. This means he has to cool things off. Bring the movement in the streets to an end – which is exactly what de Blasio tried to do when he called for an end to the protests until after the funerals of the two slain cops. (After which, they hoped, the movement would have been on the downward slope.)
In the past, the movement was co-opted into supporting the de Blasio’s of those days. That was the death of the movement. Is there an alternative? What is that alternative? The answer to that question will force itself on this growing movement.