filed under Criminal Justice

To Democrats Who Are Scared Of November: Stop Locking People Up

9:16PM ON 03/15/2010
BY Dave Segal

//” cannot be displayed, because it contains errors.I have this article up at HuffPo today. Essentially, I think that Dems are misreading a lot of the angst that’s out there right now. It’s not cause to clam up — it’s a reason to show some fight.

Criminal justice reform plays well to our base, and also to many Ron Paulies and crew, who are fiscal and social libertarians.

We should push hard on marijuana decrim and probation reform, and stop locking up women for prostitution. Doing so would save money and afford us a greater claim to the mantle of fiscal responsibility, do right by disenfranchised constituents, and appeal to a lot of people who identify with the moment’s right and center-right populism.

The funders of the Tea Party are indeed of the intransigent far right, but It’s imprudent to dismiss all of the popular consternation — and every person who’s attended a rally or who voted for Ron Paul — as essentially reactionary. (As a former Green, I’ve had quite a few conversations with people who voted for Nader in 2000 or 2004, and then Paul in 2008. While I think they were misguided, those votes were expressing something very different than the left’s caricature of the underpinnings of contemporary popular angst.)

Last month’s Tea Party convention was notable for how much time was devoted to consideration of how to hold together the strong-willed, and frequently headstrong, members of the movement. It was rife with lofty platitudes about agreeing to disagree, and pledges to abide by paraphrases of Ronald Reagan’s 11th Commandment: “Thou shalt not speak ill of another conservative.”

All the more evidence that Democrats can and should break up the party by taking aggressive stands on those issues that’ll pry loose social libertarians. And foremost, we should quit locking people up for no good reason.

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