A stereotype of Democratic politicians is that they are soft on crime. Republicans and conservatives play off this stereotype and paint Democrats as weak, in contrast to their own steadfast policies ensuring Law and Order.
The conservative reaction to the events in Ferguson, however, complicate this depiction. Peter Beinart argues that the GOP has shown a willingness to address crime reform. This willingness also reveals the Republican party’s need to attract black and Latino voters by changing their policy.
To prove his point, Beinart uses historical examples from the last four decades of presidential campaigns. He also spends time discussing the public comments made by Rand Paul, a Republican and vocal critic of mass-incarceration and the militarization of the police.
It’s not that many of the white conservatives who once voted Republican because of their fear of crime no longer harbor racialized fears about illegality and public disorder. They still do. But to a large degree, those fears have shifted from black crime to Latino immigration. And this shift has given Paul and other Republicans the space to challenge harsh police tactics and sentencing policies without incurring the wrath of their party base.