A Liberal Idea Isn’t Taken Seriously Until a Conservative Echoes It

A good post, “Rand Paul Stole The Idea To Demilitarize The Police From Democrats“, lays out how Democrats were calling for the demilitarization of police forces–and trying to pass legislation to that end–months before Rand Paul and the Libertarians did anything; it’s worth a read.

What this illustrates is that liberal ideas are never taken seriously by themselves, even though conservative ideas are, unless there’s a Very Serious Conservative (or Libertarian) also espousing them. I’ve seen floating around the intertoobz the notion that liberals don’t really care about police brutality. The idea that liberals–the ones who proudly call themselves by that term and didn’t rebrand themselves as ‘progressives’–don’t care about police brutality is ridiculous. It’s our people and our supporters who bear the brunt of these policies. Not only are many liberals affected by (or potentially could be subject to) police ‘militarization’*, but we’ve been arguing against this crap since the beginning of the goddamn War on Drugs in the 1980s. Maybe we haven’t been successful, but this has been a liberal cause for a very long time.

*I don’t like the term militarization, since there are two real phenomena that aren’t adequately described by the term. The first is the distribution of unnecessary equipment that, in most cases, makes serving and protecting harder (from the served and protected perspective). The second is the view of citizens as a hostile force that need to be subjugated and controlled.

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2 Responses to A Liberal Idea Isn’t Taken Seriously Until a Conservative Echoes It

  1. Rand Paul is all about self-aggrandizement under the guise of public servitude. Demilitarize only to privatize. Libertarian legerdemain.

  2. bkleve says:

    Just a comment about the term “militarization”: Although you are correct that the term encompasses both the adoption of military hardware/techniques/look and its attitude towards the citizenry, I think maybe there is a more important sense of the word. The police force, it is often necessary to remind people, is a CIVIL organization, with everything that implies. Militarization is a broad term to describe the transformation of the police from a civil association to a paramilitary organization. That can include, and is not limited to, the two senses of the word you remarked on above. It also includes the extrajudicial power to use violence, the right to define the situation at hand, and a certain existence outside domestic law.

    I think that one of the ways we need to think about the problem of the police in modern states is reigning them back in as a civil force and dismantling paramilitary capabilities. I’m not claiming it’s easy to put that cat back in the bag, as it were, but it has been done before.

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