Rick Santorum Worries About the Drug War's Racial Impact

At last night's Republican presidential debate in South Carolina, Rick Santorum defended his support for a bill requiring states to restore felons' voting rights:

This is Martin Luther King Day. This is a huge deal in the African-American community, because we have very high rates of incarceration, disproportionately high rates, particularly with drug crimes, in the African-American community.

The bill I voted on was the Martin Luther King Voting Rights bill. And this was a provision that...particularly targeted African-Americans. And I voted to allow...them to have their voting rights back once they completed their sentence.

This concern about the drug war's effect on "the African-American community" is a little hard to believe when it is voiced by a former senator who voted to increase penalties for drug crimes and who a few weeks ago claimed there are no nonviolent drug offenders in federal prison. By contrast, Ron Paul, one of Santorum's opponents, has been talking about the racist roots of drug prohibiton for decades, and he frequently highlights the racially disproportionate impact of the war on drugs. Unlike Santorum, whose answer is to re-enfranchise people who never should have been disenfranchised to begin with after they regain the freedom that never should have been taken away, Paul's solution is straightforward: "We need to repeal the whole war on drugs."

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  • Eduard van Haalen||

    He wants to put people in cages for nonviolent offenses, but at least he'll let them vote once they're out. And as a bonus, he wants to restore voting rights to rapists and burglars, too, once they're through with their prison sentences and probation/parole terms.

    I can see drug-war victims voting, but burglars? (add the inevitable jokes here).

  • Eduard van Haalen||

    And most states restore your voting rights after (or reasonably soon after) you've finished your sentence. So why should Congress step all over federalism in order to bring the remaining states in line?

  • Zeb||

    I don't see any reason why any citizen should be denied the right to vote. Even while incarcerated. Why shouldn't the people most affected by laws be able to vote on the people who make them?

  • ||

    I couldn't imagine anything short of treason that would warrant the feds stepping in and declaring who CANNOT vote.

  • mr simple||

    It must be a good thing that other candidates feel the need to poach Ron Paul's positions to be popular. I just hope it doesn't work for them and the people who want these things know Paul isn't just talking a big game.

  • Apatheist||

    Santorum takes the whole "family values" thing to new levels of creepy. That whole spiel about how the government should be telling teenage girls to get married really made my skin crawl. His statement about how government shouldn't be "neutral" because it leads to cultural decay really says a lot about his governing philosophy.

  • wareagle||

    I always thought the Big Three on the road to improving one's life chances were: graduate high school, don't have a kid before doing so, and don't get put in jail. Every time a conservative speaks of smaller govt and uses Santorum's name, I wait for the lightning bolt to come down.

  • Apatheist||

    Those three things are important, it just isn't the government's job to be actively pushing them, especially not the federal government.

  • wareagle||

    you are right, which I keep thinking lightning is going to smack one of these guys who uses Santorum's name in lines about getting govt out of our lives.

  • ||

    The bill I voted on was the Martin Luther King Voting Rights bill.

    If it had been named the Convicted Felon Voting Rights bill, he would have voted against it, no quesion.

    I was kinda hoping Santorum would go out with a bang, in some messy scandal. Looks like its going to be with a whimper, instead, which unfortunately leaves him the obvious pick for VP.

  • Tonio||

    Don't give up hope, RC. There's still time, yet.

  • Jerry||

    Something along the line that his grandfather from Italy was a member of the communist party there?

  • Thom||

    Of course he's the obvious pick for VP. That would be some serious, serious life insurance.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Rick Santorum: SOFT ON CRIME

  • RedDragon6009||

    ...but HARD ON HOMOSEXUALS

  • Apatheist||

    HARD ONIN HOMOSEXUALS

  • AuH20||

    That's only if you don't use enough lube.

  • Dekedin||

    Will someone explain to me the rationale of disenfranchising felons? Yeah, they might be bad people, whatever, but if we didn't think they could reenter society, we would lock them up for life. As far as I'm concerned, once you've done your time, you should have all the rights that an ordinary citizen has. Being a felon already makes getting a job harder, but that's a private concern. Permanently revoking the right to vote in any circumstance seems to throw the whole idea of sentencing out the window. If these people can't be trusted to vote, why are the allowed to walk the streets?

  • Gojira||

    Pols think that the masses love their voting rights so much that it is a grave punishment and disincentive to crime to have those rights revoked.

    Because, you know, your average felon probably did a lot of grass-roots political work before being busted for distribution.

  • ||

    Agreed, upon reentering society and being cleared from parole or off probation all rights should be restored. Including the right to bare arms.. In Illinois, I was convicted of a Felony when I was 17 (over a decade ago) and am still prohibited from getting a FOID card which is required in Illinois to practice your 2nd amendment rights..

  • RedDragon6009||

    OK Mr. Santorum, but how do you feel about letting gay felons vote?

  • Tim||

    Funny how a guy like Santorum can say that welfare destroys black families while not noticing that putting daddy in the slammer for 25 to life doesn't.

  • wareagle||

    we have a generation's worth of evidence that welfare kills black families. The Great Society made the black father little more than a sperm donor. As to crime, makes little sense to me to lock up non-violent people who are only harming themselves but it lets the Ricky's look tough.

  • ||

    The black family was falling apart long before the drug war. And further, this may come as a shock to you, but the majority of black men are not on drugs and not in jail.

  • ||

    Republicans as a general rule hate the idea of felons voting because they think they will vote for Democrats. I have to give Santorum credit for having some balls on this. This is not the thing to be saying if you want to win the GOP nomination. He clearly actually believes it.

    And further, last I looked Reason did too. I know they don't like Santorum. I don't like him either. I don't even agree with him on this. But Reason is doing themselves no favors here. Even when Santorum does something they would normally support and does so for the right reason, Reason still bitches and moans.

    This just tells me that Reason will bitch about Santorum no matter what he does. Given that, why should I listen to anything they have to say about the guy?

  • ||

    He clearly actually believes it.

    It seems like kind of an outlier for him, but maybe he does. The fact that it was named the MLK act, and he mentioned it on MLK Day, makes me suspicious.

    Well, that and the fact that he's a standard-issue big government politician.

    I think what Reason is bitching and moaning about is that Santorum's take on this makes no sense at all, given the rest of what he says and does.

    I suspect that the whole issue is just rank opportunism on his part, myself. I have no idea why he voted for the bill in the first place, but given who he is, I can't believe its out of a tender concern for the civil rights of people who are, in his view, moral deviants. I can believe he brought it up last night because of the MLK thing and because there are ads being run against him on it.

  • cynical||

    Because the alternative is doing your job?

  • ||

    He clearly actually believes it.

    It seems like kind of an outlier for him, but maybe he does. The fact that it was named the MLK act, and he mentioned it on MLK Day, makes me suspicious.

    Well, that and the fact that he's a standard-issue big government politician.

    I think what Reason is bitching and moaning about is that Santorum's take on this makes no sense at all, given the rest of what he says and does.

    I suspect that the whole issue is just rank opportunism on his part, myself. I have no idea why he voted for the bill in the first place, but given who he is, I can't believe its out of a tender concern for the civil rights of people who are, in his view, moral deviants. I can believe he brought it up last night because of the MLK thing and because there are ads being run against him on it.

  • ||

    "I suspect that the whole issue is just rank opportunism on his part"

    I don't see how it is opportunism on his part when letting felons vote is about as popular with the GOP base as not requiring an ID to vote. From a political perspective this is a really stupid move. I can only conclude he did it because he believes it.

    And I think it makes internal sense. Santorum believes that drugs are bad and people should be punished for using and selling them. He just doesn't think they should lose their right to vote for life. Why is that inconsistent?

  • ||

    Maybe, John. This just runs so counter to his whole Big Government Daddy Knows Best Moral Enforcer In Chief Yes That Includes Your Most Private Life personality that I just can't wrap my head around it.

    As anything other than cheap (and perhaps stupid) opportunism.

  • ||

    Just because someone is wrong about some or even most things, doesn't mean they are wrong about everything. Reason should be better than these kinds of posts.

  • GILMORE||

    John|1.17.12 @ 3:07PM|#

    Just because someone is wrong about some or even most things, doesn't mean they are wrong about everything.
    i>

    Have you considered the possibility that he really is just pandering, and is himself a complete idiot?

  • ||

    He is not that stupid. He doesn't think this is going to help him politically.

  • ||

    John,

    When do you plan to cancel your subscription.

    Santorum may be right, but he misses the point of where the problem starts. In giving non-violent criminals the right to vote, that's good, but do they deserve the title of non-violent criminal. Probably not.

  • ||

    Maybe I will. Reason is just off the rails on this. This is the type of thing you would expect from a partisan rag. I thought the point of Reason was they support ideas not politicians. So why are they on a roll today going after politicians for agreeing with ideas Reason supports?

  • ||

    In Santorum's view they do. But that is a different debate than if they should have the vote. Doesn't Reason agree with giving felons the right to vote even if they are convicted of something Reason agrees should be a crime?

  • ||

    I've had two intelligent comments eaten by squirrels and its pissing me off.

    John,

    I'm pretty sure felon re-enfranchisement doesn't make any libertarain top 10 lists in terms of things they want accomplished. At best, its a consolation gift for destroying your life if your a drug felon.

  • ||

    I've had two intelligent comments eaten by squirrels

    Stop typing with peanut butter all over your fingers, jeez.

  • ||

    Not to mention, the whole notion of victimless crimes is completely asinine. Nothing can reasonably be called a crime unless it involves harming others. The problem is with people thinking that laws are about morality and, more particularly, about their particular version of morality. Criminal law should have only to do with interfering with the rights and lives of others.

  • ||

    Republicans as a general rule hate the idea of felons voting because they think they will vote for Democrats.

    Another voting bloc mistakenly thinking the Dems are any better on the positions they care about.

  • Raston Bot||

    I like Paul's position to abolish the War on Drugs and legalize chemical substances b/c it's simple and black & white and makes me feel smart. Or at least that's what a bunch of brand managers and political economy professors told some twat named Libby Copeland.

  • Tonio||

    This is just another way of saying "false consciousness". Copeland, that is.

  • ||

    And Perry said that illegal children brought to this country should have in state tuition out of compassion.

    I don't disagree with either statement, but its two blind squirrals finding acorns.

  • Tony||

    Libertarians finally found a use for black people!

  • ||

    ---"Libertarians finally found a use for black people!"---

    That's another time you have called me a racist for being Libertarian.

    You sir, are a fuckwad of the first degree.

    STFU

  • Tony||

    How many libertarians of color are there? What's the percent? If it's a true political philosophy, one would think its composition would reflect the general population. If it doesn't, that should be explained.

    Because it seems to me that libertarianism (the American version) is closely aligned with the neoconfederate worldview

    My point is that your policies would further impoverish minorities, then you'd blame them for it. The only concern for the welfare of black people you ever see here is when they can be used as a rhetorical excuse employed so that you can smoke your weed in peace.

  • ||

    How many working class black people are out of work because of environmental regulations Tony?

    Democrats are the party of rich, white people and their childish beliefs. You can afford to worship at the alter of green technology and environmentalism provided you are not poor.

  • Tony||

    If you really cared about increasing employment you'd pick an industry that was more labor-intensive than oil. Say, construction or teaching or manufacturing.

    Environmental regulations are meant to keep the air, water, and land clean. You're against them because the oil and coal industries tell you to be, not because you care about employment.

  • ||

    Because expensive energy doesn't hurt any other industry Tony. Admit it, you love your regulations more than you love putting black people to work.

  • Tony||

    No I just think you (more accurately, the propagandists who do your thinking for you) only give a shit about jobs programs when you're whoring for oil.

    If you think government should be activist in job creation, why not support more efficient uses of its resources? Like a jobs program?

  • wareagle||

    tony,
    teaching is not an industry; it's a govt-funded jobs program, wholly unlike construction or manufacturing where things like competition, market share, and practitioner competence actually matter in terms of job security.

  • Tony||

    If you can figure out a way to provide universal equitable education in the free market, I'm all ears.

  • ||

    If it's a true political philosophy, one would think its composition would reflect the general population.

    So, any political philosophy where a race or socioeconomic group is under-represented isn't a a "true" political philosophy?

  • Tony||

    I guess I'm saying I'm glad I picked the team with racial diversity so I don't have to bother myself with such questions.

  • ||

    our team has blue people, the most underrepresented minorities.

    We win.

  • ||

    "I picked the team with racial diversity so I don't have to bother myself with such questions."

    Interesting...

    I just did research looked at the political issues that were most important to me, then decided I was a libertarian. The fact that I never needed to be in solidarity with the black community, (I'm black), has never bothered me. But I guess that team thing works too.

  • wareagle||

    you picked the team that made diversity a pejorative, one that focuses exclusively on the outer person and totally ignores their thoughts, their values, their ideas. Congratulations on a roomful of people who march in ideological lockstep, a multi-culti version of places like North Korea, the old Soviet Union, etc.

  • Tony||

    What you're saying wareagle is that nearly 100% of black people don't know how to vote in their best interest.

  • ||

    I guess I'm saying I'm glad I picked the team with racial diversity so I don't have to bother myself with such questions.

    You know, I'm not bothered with such questions, either. But you, I think, doth protest a leetle too much.

  • Tony||

    You should be. Seems to me the only way you can rationalize your racial uniformity is with racist explanations. Why do blacks almost universally eschew you and your Republican friends?

  • ||

    Tony

    STFU, fuckwad.

  • Mr. Chartreuse||

    The only concern for the welfare of black people you ever see here from me is when they can be used as a rhetorical excuse employed so that you can smoke your weed in peace. I can smugly accuse others of racism.

    Fixed it for ya, Tony.

  • Mr. Chartreuse||

    Also, since Tony seems to be interested about the topic, the biggest vote-getter in LP history was John Monds

  • ||

    Yeah, that's right, progressives are on the side of minorities and the disenfranchised. and I have this bridge here you might be interested in. If believing in liberty makes a person a racist, fine. If that's what you need to believe, then you can screw yourself. It your authoritarian statist heroes who have the long record of oppressing the disenfranchised, but you need to hold onto your conceits because it comforts you in your smugness.

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  • bink||

    I'm looking for a turbanator who can give me some love.

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  • ||

    Prohibition has triggered the worst crime wave in history.

    * It has helped escalate the number of people on welfare who can't find employment due to their felony status.

    * It has created a black market with massive incentives to hook both adults and children alike.

    * It has made these substances widely available even in schools and prisons.

    * It has escalated gang warfare beyond what was experienced in the days of alcohol bootlegging.

    * It has create a prison-for-profit synergy with drug lords.

    * It has helped remove many important civil liberties from the very citizens it falsely claims to represent.

    * It has put previously unknown and contaminated drugs on the streets.

    * It has grossly escalated Murder, Theft, Muggings and Burglaries.

    * It has diverted scarce law-enforcement resources away from protecting citizens from the ever escalating violence against their person or property.

    * It has overcrowded the courts and prisons, thus making it increasingly impossible to curtail the people who are hurting and terrorizing others.

    * It has evolved local gangs into transnational enterprises with intricate power structures that reach into every corner of society, helping them control vast swaths of territory while gifting them with significant social and military resources.

    Imagine if we were to chop down every single tree on the planet as a response to our failure to prevent tree-climbing accidents. That's what our misguided drug policy looks like. Isn't it time we all should up and told the government we're tired of being beaten and jailed so that pharmaceutical companies can poison and kill us for obscene profits?

    Prohibition Prevents Regulation : Legalize, Regulate and Tax!

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