Senator Rand Paul believes ex-cons should be allowed to vote. He explained to David Gregory on Meet the Press Sunday morning how he plans to introduce legislation next week that would allow felons convicted of non-violent crimes to have their voting rights reinstated after they have, as the phrase goes, paid their debt to society.
Paul says his bill would allow between a half million and a million felons who can’t vote now back into the voting booth. Exactly why people who have broken and shown contempt for our laws should help select those who make and administer those laws, Paul did not say. Nor did he mention why he wishes to override the mechanisms various states have established to restore the rights of felons.
Should Paul’s legislation become law, many of the reinstated voters will be drug offenders. Paul also wishes to see drug sentencing “reform” — i.e. making the penalties for drug related crimes less — and would like to see some drug crimes that are now felonies be reclassified as misdemeanors.
This is clearly Paul’s inner libertarian asserting himself. One would have to be marble-hearted not to believe in redemption and second chances, as conservatives do. But if Paul is going to be a serious presidential candidate in 2016, he faces the chore of explaining how making the world safer and more convenient for people in the illegal drug industry makes America a safer place for law-abiding citizens.