We Don’t Have to Change Our Language to Appease Conservatives. Defund the Police.

Susan Saxe
6 min readJun 12, 2020

So you don’t think you can sell “Defund the Police” to your right wing friends. Really?

Come on, get creative. We’ve got all their favorite villains, a huge, expensive, ineffective, TAX FUNDED, out of control GUMMINT AGENCY that can’t be reined in because a powerful PUBLIC EMPLOYEES UNION has a death grip on CORRUPT POLITICIANS. Bonus points for the fact that most big cities are controlled by DEMOCRATS. And you can’t make the case? At very least you can light up their colossal hypocrisy. Here you go.

But first, before I launch into this, let’s be clear that there are some deluded, malignant, sadistic, racist sociopaths who LIKE the way things are, don’t really give a damn about crime or budgets or anything else, are impervious to facts, identify with all the worst aspects of policing, relish the harm and violence done to people they don’t like and believe it will never happen to them. You don’t need these people in your life. Changing our language or modifying our demands to suit them will achieve nothing and in fact may encourage them to think they are winning because they interpret compromise as a sign of weakness and an invitation to move the goalpost and double down. It is a fool’s errand to derail a conversation that we desperately need to have in order to appease the unappeasable. So just stop undermining a good cause and a perfectly legitimate demand trying to do the impossible.

I also want to be clear that, although I’m going to use the “they don’t even prevent or solve crime” argument, I believe that even if the police as currently constituted were doing a perfect job of fighting crime, their record of violent, racist, predatory, anti-working class abuses would merit abolition. Just for the record.

Ok. This is for your dear little granny or your nutty uncle who are caught up in MAGAmania, fearful and misinformed, but still willing to talk to you and still wanting to think of themselves as “good people” who want to appear to be “not racist” and just want to feel “safe.”

You know who thinks government doesn’t work and wants to defund everything? FISCAL CONSERVATIVES. And policing is the ultimate fiasco of throwing our hard-earned tax dollars down a bottomless pit with nothing to show for it. So here’s one way to frame it for them.

Fiscal conservatives believe that everything should be “run like a business.” (Reality Check: They are very wrong about this, but that’s a subject for another time.) The business analogy is a great premise to help them understand why it is a good idea to take our “hard earned tax dollars” out of a “bad investment” and spend a lot less to “reinvest” somewhere else.

Imagine policing as a business. Its product is public safety. Right? Well, today cities are spending up to half their budgets (hard earned taxpayer dollars) paying people who are supposed to be preventing and solving crimes to spend the vast majority of their time doing other things that could be done better and more cost-effectively by social workers, medics, teachers, mediators, and a whole host of other professionals, community groups and organizations.

And on top of that, we are dealing with an epidemic of police abuse that has many taxpayers (just say “taxpayers.” They know who you’re talking about but they need to start thinking of them as taxpayers like themselves, not some scary Other) are frightened, frustrated, angry and wanting something done. No amount of money that we have thrown into training, recruitment, equipment, cameras or blue ribbon panels has managed to reduce this epidemic or even resulted in less crime and more public safety. People are tired of throwing money down a bottomless pit with no results.

Should taxpayers continue to pay through the nose for something that is not working? (Plug in statistics and well-publicized news stories — only 40% of crimes reported, only 25% of those (10% of total) resolved, no data kept on whether even these few were correctly resolved, horror stories about wrongful convictions, piles of rape kits gathering dust never to be tested while rapists roam free, millions paid out of strapped city budgets to compensate victims of police brutality and killings…the evidence abounds, get educated so you can speak knowledgeably and persuasively about it.)

How did this happen and what can we do about it?

The mission creep argument. (Reality Check: this is not a true leftist position because we believe that the mission of the police is in fact to occupy, terrorize, extort and dominate working class and POC for the benefit of the ruling class, but for the sake of argument, even IF their mission were fighting crime…)

Police departments are suffering from mission creep, one of the most expensive and destructive things that can happen to any business. Imagine a company is founded to make widgets but instead management decides to devote 90% of their skilled widget makers’ time to running around trying to do something they are not trained or equipped to do…like solve crimes. Imagine the havoc that could cause just getting in the way of people actually equiped to solve crime. And not only that, but it would ruin the widget making part of the business as well. They’d be unable to produce very many widgets and those would probably be of low quality. In the private sector, that business would go belly up and some hedge fund would be picking its bones. But in the public sector, a “business” that can pay fancy lobbyists to twist political arms can keep itself afloat with someone else’s money no matter how deficient their “product” is. They will ride the gravy train as long as the taxpayers and voters let it go on.

If policing were a business and you, as a taxpayer and member of the public, were a stockholder, what would you demand, and what would a smart manager do? The smart management solution is to stop throwing good money after bad, cut losses and restructure. Yes, DEFUND what is not working. The smart, fiscally responsible move is to simply take away every dime we are spending on paying cops to be social workers, therapists, and every other job under the sun that they didn’t sign up for, are not trained or equipped to do and most don’t even want to do. Then clean house, cut the fat and restructure the business model to stay in their lane and do what they were supposed to be doing in the first place.

The corrupt pols and unions argument: (Reality check: Conservatives hate unions, except maybe their own, but the FOP is poster child for a union that we should in fact dismantle. Leftists understand that the FOP is not really a union and is objectively anti-labor, but conservatives don’t know that until they go on strike and a cop breaks their head.)

So why aren’t our politicians doing this? You know those public unions you hate so much? The FOP is the worst of the worst of them. They spend millions, hold politicians of both parties hostage to their demands and scare the public into thinking that all hell will break loose if they go on strike. But guess what? That has never happened. In the first place, that supposedly essential, core job of crime fighting is not getting done well. Crime rates go up or down independently of how much money we spend on policing, so let’s cut costs.

If the FOP doesn’t like it? What would St. Ronald Reagan do? Remember the Air Traffic Controllers? Clean house! If laid off employees want to come back and if they have a clean record, fine, let them reapply under the new regime. If not, when did conservatives start believing that anyone is entitled to a specific job just because they want it, or that employees should get to tell their bosses how they want to do their job. We’re the taxpayers, and we should be the bosses, amiright?

(Conservatives think they understand economics and love the bottom line, no?) Bottom line: Nobody is saying that public safety is unimportant. What people are saying is that we are spending way more than we can afford and not even getting the public safety we need. Other countries spend less, have much lower crime rates and don’t have anywhere near the rate of police violence and killing or the massive public distrust and anger.

(Conservatives think there is a thing called a Free Market. LOL) You don’t want the gummint forcing you to pay Lamborghini prices for a beat up jalopy with no breaks, do you? Why not shop around for a better model, just as we would for a car?



Susan Saxe

I’m a lifelong radical activist, intersectional in outlook since back in the day when we just expressed it as the idea that “everything is connected.” It is.