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October 7, 2020

Should we be rooting for or against some criminal justice discussions during the VP debate?

The question in this title of this post is my sincere question as I think about tonight's scheduled debate between the 2020 vice presidential candidates, current VP Mike Pence and Senator Kamala Harris.  Especially after the many ugly dimensions of last week's Prez election debate, I find myself wondering too much about whether we can even have effective civil discourse in this nation.  That depressing fundamental concern aside, it is perhaps worth recalling that almost exactly four years ago at the last VP debate, then-Gov Pence advocated for national criminal reform in this exchange (as reported in my Oct 2016 blog posting with my emphasis added):

[Moderator] QUIJANO:  Your fellow Republican, Governor Pence, Senator Tim Scott, who is African-American, recently spoke on the Senate floor.  He said he was stopped seven times by law enforcement in one year....  He said, "I have felt the anger, the frustration, the sadness, and the humiliation that comes with feeling like you're being targeted for nothing more than being just yourself."  What would you say to Senator Scott about his experiences?

PENCE:  Well, I have the deepest respect for Senator Scott, and he's a close friend.  And what I would say is that we — we need to adopt criminal justice reform nationally.  I — I signed criminal justice reform in the state of Indiana, Senator, and we're very proud of it.  I worked when I was Congress on a second chance act.  We have got to do a better job recognizing and correcting the errors in the system that do reflect on institutional bias in criminal justice.

I would love a four-years-later follow up question to now-VP Pence that explores whether he thinks the Trump Administration has been doing "a better job recognizing and correcting the errors in the system that do reflect on institutional bias in criminal justice."  That said, if there are questions focused on criminal justice issues in this VP debate, we might expect that they may be first directed toward Senator Harris given her long (and somewhat controversial) record on these issues resulting in part from her service as a local prosecutor and then Attorney General in California.

In this post some weeks ago, I made a pitch for an entire Prez debate focused on criminal justice issues.  Now I am finding myself just hoping for a debate that does not make me sick. The question in the title of this post is driven by the fact that I am sincerely not sure if the candidates ignoring or discussing these issues tonight are more or less likely to be nauseating.

A few prior recent related posts:

October 7, 2020 at 01:10 PM | Permalink


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