House Majority Whip James Clyburn warned the “defund the police” movement is a “chokehold” around the Democratic Party and is costing them elections.
Appearing Thursday on Peacock’s “The Mehdi Hasan Show,” Mr. Clyburn argued that sloganeering would continue to hurt the progressive movement.
“I’m out here with the voters every day,” the South Carolina Democrat said. “I did a town hall meeting last night in Jasper County, South Carolina, and I can tell you, defund the police is a non-starter even with Black people.
“And if you don’t think that’s true, then look at the results of what just happened in New York City’s election,” he said. “So the proof is in the pudding. I know what I’m talking about. I talk to people every day, and defund the police is a chokehold around the Democratic Party.”
Mr. Clyburn was referring to Eric Adams, the Brooklyn borough president and former police captain who won New York City’s Democratic mayoral primary after running on a tough-on-crime platform.
The TV host pushed back against Mr. Clyburn’s comments, asking why he was so focused on “defund the police” instead of other problems facing the party.
“I mean I know why Republicans keep going on and on about it, I’m not sure why you seem to think it’s such a big problem for your party,” Mr. Hasan said.
“Ask Jaime Harrison, who was running for the United States Senate here in South Carolina,” Mr. Clyburn responded. “Just ask him. Ask Abigail Spanberger up in Virginia why I said it. I said it because it’s real. It’s a real problem. We should stop sloganeering. In 1960, ‘burn baby burn’ destroyed our movement. And defund the police will do the same thing to progressive movements today. This kind of sloganeering does us no good.”
“And let me remind you, if you’re going to categorize left and right, I’m on the left of my party,” he said. “Nobody can call me anything but a progressive. I’ve been one all of my life. Met my wife in jail being progressive. So, come on.”