Republicans for affirmative action

Earlier this week Wonkblog highlighted 10 odd items in the Republican platform.  Among these:

2) Police the universities for liberal bias. “Ideological bias is deeply entrenched within the current university system. Whatever the solution in private institutions may be, in State institutions the trustees have a responsibility to the public to ensure that their enormous investment is not abused for political indoctrination. We call on State officials to ensure that our public colleges and universities be places of learning and the exchange of ideas, not zones of intellectual intolerance favoring the Left.”

5) Affirmative action for Republican officials inside the District of Columbia. “D.C.’s Republicans have been in the forefront of exposing and combating the chronic corruption among the city’s top Democratic officials. We join their call for a non-partisan elected Attorney General to clean up the city’s political culture and for congressional action to enforce the spirit of the Home Rule Act assuring minority representation on the City Council. After decades of inept one-party rule, the city’s structural deficit demands congressional attention.”

Okay, #2 does not directly call for affirmative action to hire conservative professors, but it’s not far off.  Also, give me a break.  There’s really not a lot of political indoctrination going on here.  Unless, that is, like Stephen Colbert, you believe that the truth has a liberal bias.

On a related platform note, Republicans are making some real sense on crime (not that anybody’s talking about it):

Four years ago, Republicans devoted a section in their platform to the War on Drugs, lamenting the “human toll of drug addiction and abuse” and vowing to “continue the fight against producers, traffickers, and distributor of illegal substances.”

That plank is conspicuously missing from the GOP platform this year. The fight against illegal drugs is only mentioned in passing, mostly with reference to drug cartels and the ban on using controlled substances for doctor-assisted suicide.Policy experts agree that the omission is significant. “This is less a ‘tough on crime’ document than you would have expected. And leaving out the War on Drugs [is] quite astounding,” says Mark Kleiman, a crime policy expert and professor at UCLA. “It’s a bit more of a libertarian attitude,” says Marc Levin, who runs a conservative criminal justice reform project called “Right on Crime” that’s attracted the support of Newt Gingrich and Grover Norquist.

What’s more, the 2012 platform includes new provisions that emphasize the importance of rehabilitation and re-entry programs to help ex-prisoners integrate back into society—using language that Kleiman describes as “a lot less ‘lock ‘em up and throw away the key.’”

“While getting criminals off the street is essential, more attention must be paid to the process of restoring those individuals to the community,” the platform says. “Prisons should do more than punish; they should attempt to rehabilitate and institute proven prisoner reentry systems to reduce recidivism and future victimization.” The document also criticizes the “overcriminalization of behavior,” though it doesn’t elaborate on the point much further.

Hooray!  Common sense in the GOP platform.  The post goes on to note that this is probably being driven by pressure from Republican governors who absolutely need to cut police and prison budgets and spend criminal justice dollars much more efficiently (and talk about an area with low hanging fruit for more efficient spending).  Good to see movement in this direction.  In the end, if we get the reforms in criminal justice that we sorely need, it won’t be because people have seen the light so much as we just can’t afford to keep wasting so much money that could be better spent.

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About Steve Greene
Professor of Political Science at NC State http://faculty.chass.ncsu.edu/shgreene

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