Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and Democrats’ shameful complicity in our police state

Dec 7, 2014 by

Liberals looking to assign blame for our growing police militarization need to take a long, hard look in the mirror
Zaid Jilani, AlterNet


Topics: AlterNet, clinton_cover_rect-620x412
Bill Clinton, Joe Biden and Democrats’ shameful complicity in our police stateBill Clinton speaks during a campaign event for President Obama. (Credit: AP/Carolyn Kaster)
This article originally appeared on AlterNet.

AlterNet The 200 protesters arrested last night in New York City and others being arrested elsewhere in demonstrations against police brutality are confronting a police and prison system that has put more people behind bars than any other country. Some have pointed out that those doing the arresting are not exactly far-right Replublican and conservative-led jurisdictions, but solidly Democratic strongholds. Cities like New York City, where Eric Garner was tragically killed – are run by the Democratic Party from top to bottom, with one of the countriy’s most progressive mayors, Bill De Blasio at the helm. Given that the party is, at least, traditionally associated with liberalism, civil rights and a more permissive society, some observers find that ironic. But the recent past tells us that the Democratic Party in the past three decades has abandoned concerns for civil liberties and civil rights in the pursuit of appearing to be just as tough on crime as their Republican counterparts.

This is a story that begins when Bill Clinton embraced the law-and-order policies of his Republican predecessors. Let’s review:

Clinton: The New Democrat With An Old Approach To Crime

First some background: The first president to declare a “War On Drugs” was a Republican, Richard Nixon. Nixon began a heavily police-focused drug policy, which was then escalated by Republican Ronald Reagan, who made his wife Nancy the face of “Just Say No” – a more innocuous phrase that was accompanied by a ramping up of prisons and policing.

During this period, many Democrats resisted these policies, considering them to be conflicting with the civil rights coalition they had absorbed into their party since the 1960′s. The big change came when President Bill Clinton came into office.

Clinton was a “New Democrat” – part of a new coalition of Democrats who believed that the liberalism represented by the New Deal and Great Society had run its course, and that Democrats must court Big Business and certain right-wing interest groups in order to forge a new party.

Zaid Jilani is a Syracuse University graduate student and freelance writer. Follow him @zaidjilani.

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