Rand Paul is visiting a broad group of voters not normally associated with the Republican party. The big question here is will the leadership of the Republican party move away from the War Dogs’ big government policies of the Bush/Cheney/Rove/McCain/Romney era to a libertarian-based, small government, nonintervention-based template intended by our Founders? NPR reports on Paul’s efforts here.
It was just over a year ago that Paul made a much-ballyhooed appearance at Howard University, one of the nation’s top historically black colleges. His speech included a few stumbles — he drew groans when he asked those in the packed auditorium if they knew that black Republicans founded the NAACP. But Paul also elicited applause when he said that the nation has drug laws and court systems that “disproportionately [punish] the black community.”
Miller, the NAACP chief, and other African-American leaders refer to the issue as “mass incarceration,” and its prominence as an issue in the black community can’t be understated.
“I’ve been traveling and talking to audiences about the effect of mass incarceration,” Miller says. “There is hardly a person who hasn’t been affected by it; what we do about it is the question.”
“It is such a pervasive issue in our community, and, quite honestly, if we can get the ear of someone like Rand Paul, that helps us in trying to find solutions that make sense,” she says.
Since that speech, Paul has — along with Democratic Sen. Patrick Leahy of Vermont — led legislative efforts on Capitol Hill to revamp mandatory sentencing laws.
Paul has likened the effects of such laws on black Americans to the racist policies of the nation’s Jim Crow era, and has said that laws preventing felons from voting is tantamount to voter suppression.
In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last year, Paul said this: “If I told you that 1 out of 3 African-American males is forbidden by law from voting, you might think I was talking about Jim Crow 50 years ago. Yet today, a third of African-American males are still prevented from voting because of the war on drugs.”
“The majority of illegal drug users and dealers nationwide are white,” he said, “but three-fourths of all people in prison for drug offenses are African-American or Latino.”