James Clyburn tears into 'defund the police' movement: 'Sloganeering kills people'

Clyburn says 'defund the police' movement hurt Democrats

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House Majority Whip James Clyburn, D-S.C., tore into the "defund the police" movement in a new interview, blaming left-wing "foolishness" for his party's underperformance in the 2020 elections. 

Democrats struggled in the elections "because we were not able to discipline ourselves according to voter sentiment," Clyburn told Axios in an interview that aired Monday night. 

"We keep making that mistake. This foolishness about you got to be this progressive or that progressive," he added. 

"That phrase, 'defund the police,' cost [Democratic Senate candidate] Jaime Harrison tremendously." 

When Axios' Alexi McCammond pointed out that Clyburn seemed "mad," he replied: "I am!" 

"I'm not blaming progressive members. I want everybody in my caucus to be as practical as I am. That's the difference here. How are you gonna look at me and say I'm not progressive? This foolishness about you more progressive than I am? That's poppycock. 

"Stop sloganeering. Sloganeering kills people. Sloganeering destroys movements. Stop sloganeering."

Clyburn's office didn't immediately return an email seeking further comment. 

Democratic shortcomings in the elections have renewed fissures between the party establishment and its socialist wing.

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While some left-wing Democrats embraced the "defund the police" movement, polls show that most Americans reject it. 

Democratic Ohio Rep. Tim Ryan also blamed the "defund the police" movement for his party's struggles. 

"I think the defund the police issue hurt a lot of our candidates," Ryan said in a Wall Street Journal interview last week. 

While moderate Democrats shy away from anti-police rhetoric, New York Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's left-wing "Squad" is adding three new members who support defunding the police and other radical initiatives. 

Top House Democrat says movement hurt Democrats