Sen. Bernie Sanders refuses to budge on the issue of voting rights for all current prisoners in the US despite the fact most Americans don’t agree with him. But this could be an extremely shrewd political move that benefits Sanders in the crowded 2020 Democratic primary.
Along the campaign trail, Sanders has repeatedly said he supports granting voting rights to all currently incarcerated people — including for “terrible people” like the Boston Marathon bomber.
In a Tuesday op-ed for USA Today, the senator said he makes “no apologies” for his position.
“We have been engaged in an ongoing 243-year project to expand participation in our democracy,” the Vermont senator said. “If we are serious about calling ourselves a democracy, we must firmly establish that the right to vote is an inalienable and universal principle that applies to all American citizens 18 years and older. Period.”
Sanders also used the plan to take a jab at the legal woes of people associated with President Donald Trump, stating that “even if Trump’s former campaign manager and personal lawyer end up in jail, they should still be able to vote — regardless of who they cast their vote for.”
A recent INSIDER poll showed 75% of Americans do not support voting rights for all prisoners, though roughly one out of five would support enfranchising non-violent inmates.
But Sanders is seemingly undeterred by a lack of popular support and the criticism he’s faced. And while it may be not the most popular idea, a deeper look into INSIDER’s poll data shows that this could be a fairly savvy political strategy.
Indeed while the general adult population may have some misgivings, those respondents who identified as Democratic primary voters are more interested in the idea.
Even if that’s still shy of a majority, that doesn’t matter in a primary: maintaining his position cements Sanders’ status as the left flank of the party, a lane which could be advantageous to control as the primary continues.
As long as Sanders is able to remain the de facto candidate preferred by the left wing of the party, he’ll have a constituency that will keep him if not at the top of the polls, then very much in the game.
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