As long as support for police remains sacrosanct among primary voters, criminal-justice reform is unlikely to become a campaign rallying cry during the Republican primary for president next year, even in a field that predominantly supports it, says Time magazine. The Republican Party is evolving on criminal justice issues, but politicians will still talk on the campaign trail about what voters want to hear. If Republicans are less likely than Democrats to accept the prevalence of police misconduct, it follows that they would be less likely to buy into the notion that the system requires reform.
In a recent Washington Post-ABC News survey, eight in 10 white Republicans said the Michael Brown and Eric Garner cases of police killing black men were isolated incidents, and a similar percentage say they are “confident that police treat blacks and whites equally.” Still, it is true that many of the likely 2016 Republican presidential candidates support some element of criminal-justice reform. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul is the most visible proponent; as a libertarian-leaning conservative, he has staked his candidacy on the idea that the GOP must adjust its policies as the composition of the electorate changes. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a former federal prosecutor, has called for an end to the “failed war on drugs” and signed legislation that sent some offenders to rehab instead of prison.