Obama praised the Koch Brothers in his remarks on criminal justice reform AP Photo/Evan Vucci

Down seems to be the new up for the Obama administration this week. After years of merciless raids of legal marijuana dispensaries in the states, the President commuted the sentences of 46 nonviolent drug offenders on Monday. Then on Tuesday, the president put criminal justice reform on the radar in a speech at the NAACP convention.

However, these two developments aren’t even the most shocking part. In the same NAACP speech, the President praised none other than the Koch Brothers:

This is a cause that’s bringing people in both houses of Congress together.  It’s created some unlikely bedfellows.  You’ve got Van Jones and Newt Gingrich.  (Laughter.)  You’ve got Americans for Tax Reform and the ACLU.  You’ve got the NAACP and the Koch brothers.  (Laughter.)  No, you’ve got to give them credit.  You’ve got to call it like you see it.  (Laughter.)

Your eyes are not deceiving you. After years of demonizing Charles and David Koch for the “crime” of using their free speech to advocate for policy change, the President has changed his tune on the billionaires — at least on the issue of criminal justice reform.

And why shouldn’t he? The Kochs have poured millions of dollars into groups like the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers to fight for reforms over the past ten years. Even more encouraging, the Kochs just launched a bipartisan criminal justice campaign called the Coalition for Public Safety with groups spanning the political spectrum — the ACLU, Americans For Tax Reform, Center for American Progress, and FreedomWorks, to name just a few.

Hopefully the left will follow the Obama administration’s lead in seeing the humanity behind their favorite villains.

Criminal justice reform is achievable if both sides put their biases behind them and continue to work together on what’s right.

Casey Given About the author:
Casey Given is executive Director of Young Voices. Follow him on Twitter @caseyjgiven
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