Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) spoke to the National Urban League Friday and outlined a platform that included sentencing and drug offense classification reform, restoration of voting rights for ex-felons and a host of other justice related issues.
Paul’s attempts to make inroads with black Americans has rankled some Democrats. Some have praised Paul for doing what virtually no other Republican has in terms of outreach, while others have denounced him.
Politic365’s Lauren Victoria Burke discussed a few examples of the latter in her recent column, while at the same time demonstrating that many Democrats who profess to be friends to minorities haven’t bothered to promote existing legislation that might actually helps minorities.
“Sen. Paul has been doing more than dropping names of Black civil rights legends. Paul has been pushing legislation on justice reform that many Democrats who get over 80% of the black vote aren’t even bothering to co-sponsor, much less author,” Burke writes. “In a town where mindless opposition against President Obama is practically Republican policy and gridlock is king, shouldn’t it be a good thing when a Republican reaches out to Blacks and talks policy and not just platitudes?”
For Democrats, the obvious answer to that question isn’t so obvious.
“Rand Paul falsely claims he supports civil and voting rights,” a DNC e-mail from July 25 read. “Paul yet again falsely claimed he is a champion of the African American community.”
Baltimore mayor and DNC secretary Stephanie Rawlings-Blake piled on in an op-ed titled, “Blacks shouldn’t be fooled by Rand Paul.”
Elsewhere on the web, a Daily Kos “diary entry” lectured Rand Paul on what not to say to black people. While instructing Paul what not to say, the author proceeded to call the Kentucky senator a “libert-aryan” — basically a neo-Nazi.
Nor has Rachel Maddow stopped bringing up Sen. Paul’s Civil Rights Act remarks every chance she gets.
But amid all of the confusion, opposition and contradiction Ms. Burke put forth a helpful reminder:
Currently many Senate Democrats who are members of the Senate Judiciary Committee at a time when Attorney General Eric Holder is pushing justice reform, are not supporting leading bills on justice reform, including:
Justice Safety Valve Act (S.619) — Introduced 3/20/13. Gives judges more sentencing power over mandatory minimums. Chair Pat Leahy is only co-sponsor. No other Senate Judiciary Democrats are sponsors yet Sen. Rand Paul is. REDEEM Act (S.2567) – Introduced July 8, has no co-sponsors.
Smarter Sentencing Act (S.1410) — Introduced 7/31/13. Even though 28 Senators including Tea Party Republicans Mike Lee, Rand Paul and Ron Johnson are co-sponsors, Democrats Schumer, Landrieu, Warner, Feinstein aren’t.
She added that “Senate Democrats Schumer, Feinstein, and Dick Durbin aren’t co-sponsors on the Justice Safety Valve Act or the REDEEM Act” and that Durbin and Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) are actually responsible for adding two new mandatory minimums to a bill designed to reduce mandatory minimums.
Some pretty high profile Democrats are conspicuously absent from bills important to minority interests — while Republican Rand Paul’s name appears twice — and Paul’s somehow the problem?