Missouri’s member of the Squad, Democratic Rep. Cori Bush of St. Louis, is standing firm on her commitment to defunding the police. “I always tell [fellow Democrats], ‘If you all had fixed this before I got here, I wouldn’t have to say these things,’” she said.
Bush’s comment comes amid growing concern about the 2022 midterm election among members of the Democratic Party, who fear defund the police rhetoric may have led to disappointing results in the 2020 election. She said the party needs to do a better job of explaining to voters what it means by “defund the police,” arguing that some funding could be better spent on preemptive social services. That would include sending counselors, instead of police, to domestic abuse calls. In New York recently, a social worker responding to such a call was murdered.
Regardless, she dismisses concerns about Democrats losing this year’s election, saying a defeat should be blamed on the party’s inability to pass sweeping reforms such as President Biden’s Build Back Better legislation.
“‘Defund the police’ is not the problem,” Bush said. “We dangled the carrot in front of people’s faces and said we can get it done and that Democrats deliver, when we haven’t totally delivered. If [Republicans] take the majority, it’s just done as far as trying to get the legislation across.”
It was recently revealed she has spent hundreds of thousands of tax dollars on personal security. That didn’t sit well with many of her Black constituents in St. Louis which has one of the highest homicide rates in the nation.
Bush’s comments come as violent crime has been on the rise throughout the United States in the past two years. The rise in crime and 2020’s difficult down-ballot election results have caused Democrats to attempt to distance the party from the defund the police movement, with Bush saying that some colleagues have told her the slogan is unhelpful in their districts.
Some in the party have discussed a piecemeal approach to larger police reform bills, such as the failed George Floyd Justice in Policing Act, but Bush argues there’s little chance of seeing even small reforms come to fruition.
“If we couldn’t get George Floyd done back when millions of people were marching in the street, then how do we expect to get more than one thing done over the next few years?” she said.
Bush also hinted at potential fissures within the party’s progressive. “What is a ‘progressive’ here in the House?” she asked. “We need to hone in more on what that really is.”
–Alan Goforth | Metro Voice