According to a report from Politico, Republicans who were planning to run on a law and order platform as part of their pitch to remain in power in the 2020 election are seeing it slip away due to an avalanche of viral videos showing out-of-control cops assaulting -- and sometimes killing -- Americans.
With Republican plans to run on a strong economy in tatters due to fallout from the coronavirus pandemic that has added 40 million to the unemployment rolls, Republicans had hoped to run as the party of law and order -- which President Donald Trump continues to tweet every day -- only to see the tide turn against police since the videoed killing of George Floyd at the hands of four Minneapolis cops.
As Politico's Tim Alberta reports, "On the seventh day of convulsive demonstrations sweeping across the United States in response to the killing of George Floyd, an unarmed black man, at the hands of the Minneapolis Police Department, George W. Bush issued an emotional statement declaring it was 'time for America to examine our tragic failures.' The former president’s appeal to unity and reconciliation instead exposed a schism—not between liberals and conservatives, but within his own party."
According to Alberta, that was a major crack within the Republican Party that also reflects a change in the public's attitude towards the police.
"As with so many issues, the ground beneath the GOP has been gradually shifting on questions of racial justice. Perhaps it’s the demographic transition of the electorate, or the greater digital proximity voters have to events that long went unseen. Whatever the cause, this shift has threatened further electoral consequences for a party that is already out of step with the center on a number of cultural issues," the Politico report states. "That was before a white officer pinned George Floyd’s neck to the ground for nearly nine minutes. One thing is clear: There is nothing gradual about what’s happened since."
Noting that "Americans by a 2-to-1 margin are more troubled by the actions of police in the killing of George Floyd than by violence at some protest. A survey for USA Today last week showed white Americans’ favorable impressions of police declining by double-digits week over week. Most notably, a Monmouth poll released June 2—conducted in the days after Floyd’s killing—showed, for the first time, that a majority of Americans (57 percent) and a plurality of whites (49 percent) believe police are more likely to use excessive force against African Americans,": Alberta called the change in public attitudes a "tectonic shift" that could handcuff an already struggling Republican Party already saddled with an unpopular president.
One Republican senator admitted that the times have changed.
“It’s almost a sea change,” explained Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC), “ ... the response from so many well-intended people was to overlook the brutality brought to African Americans at the hands of the police. … But I look at the public’s response to this situation and it feels like the first time in my lifetime that I’ve heard law enforcement agencies coming out with strong rebukes and condemnation of the officers in Minneapolis.”
"If Scott is right—if the groundswell of outrage and empathy resulting from George Floyd’s death marks an inflection point in the American racial conscience—then something more enduring is upon us," Alberta wrote. "The result is a new fault line in Republican politics. On one side are the reformers who understand that the system is no longer broken only in the eyes of black and brown voters; on the other side are the traditionalists who will go to their political graves insisting that American exceptionalism guarantees American equality."
"The rate at which the Republican Party takes seriously the notion of widespread racial injustice likely depends on how long Donald Trump occupies the White House," Alberta reports. "And that, in turn, depends on whether black voters are galvanized by Joe Biden—author of the crime bill and his share of racial gaffes—in a way they weren’t by Hillary Clinton four years ago."
You can read more here.