Find-the-Matrix: Different Standards

Why This Liberal Mayor Doesn’t Want a Lecture From Progressives

Transpartisan Note #150

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

The Transpartisan Matrix sits behind most, if not all, of todays’ partisan political smash-ups. Here New York Times Silicon Valley columnist Kara Swisher interviews San Francisco’s Mayor London Breed about law enforcement.

Two paragraphs from the summary of the Swisher/Breed interview point to the Matrix in the “defund the police” scrum. The left/right “defund vs. give more money to” the police (the cartoonish characterization of the nation’s wrenching law enforcement debate) gets a lot of ink in all kinds of “journalism”. In the process it dumbs down the discourse on national law enforcement.

Left/Right debates like this one sketch out the horizontal axis of the Matrix in cartoonish often clownish entertainment terms. Cartoons have consequences. In this case, they provoke harm to protesters and police, incivility within families and between neighbors, and a malaise of doubt as both “freedom” and “order” fall victim to media events that range from dignified to histrionic.

“Freedom” and “Order” form the vertical axis of the Matrix. On both the political left and right, debates rage between and within those championing order and those searching for freedom. Resolution of issues through the solving of problems, we suggest, most often occurs when all four quadrants of the Matrix – order left and right and freedom left and right – share in developing the resolution.

Here are the two paragraphs in the summary of the Swisher/Breed interview that give a taste of the Matrix from the left. Note that London makes the point of her experience growing up and her internal efforts to provide both security and trusted police. We offer the Transpartisan Matrix as a tool, for those interested, to dig further into contemporary political issues than the partisan arm wrestle for power offers most people.

San Francisco’s politicians are struggling to find a Goldilocks balance when it comes to public safety, and Democrats across the nation should pay attention. After declaring a state of emergency in the Tenderloin neighborhood to deal with what she called a public health crisis of opioid use, Mayor London Breed has been criticized for taking too strong a hand in forcing people to seek treatment for drugs or mental health problems.

“In this conversation with Kara Swisher, Breed talks about the crackdown she’s leading and whether she was ever the ‘defund the police’ mayor some in the media painted her to be (and critiqued her for stepping away from). Breed says her experience growing up in a public housing development in the Western Addition neighborhood gives her a perspective many of her critics may not have. ‘They have a theory as to what they believe based on their ideology, but they’re also white,’ she says. ‘They are not Black people who had these unfortunately traumatizing experiences in communities where there’s not trust with the police, but also there’s a desire to be safe.’

You can listen to the entire interview on a recent NYTimes Sway podcast. A transcript of the interview is also provided. For a bit of additional spice consider this quote form the summary of the interview:

Swisher and Breed discuss “…how Black mayors like Breed, Keisha Lance Bottoms of Atlanta, and Lori Lightfoot of Chicago are ‘held to a completely different standard.’”


(Image from Wikimedia Commons.)

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