Even within the same political party, there are many different views on how America’s political landscape is structured. Since the first appearance of former President Donald Trump on the national stage, the divide between Republicans who support him and those who don’t necessarily agree with him has been the subject of discussion among the right.
A poll conducted by Economist/YouGov revealed some interesting differences in the views of Trump and non-Trump conservatives on various issues. Trump Republicans, for example, are more likely than non-Trump Republicans to oppose aiding Ukraine. One of the most notable variations focuses on criminal justice reform. The Trump Republicans were 19 points more likely than the rest of the Republican Party to believe that reforming justice is an important issue.
The avalanche of indictments by Democrats brought against the former President is the most obvious reason that Trump Republicans may view criminal justice reform as a crucial issue. Four indictments have been issued so far against Trump.
New York, Georgia, and the Justice Department have taken criminal action against former President Obama for a number of reasons, including payments of hush money to pornstar Stormy Daniels and mishandling of classified documents. They also took action because of concerns about the result of the presidential election in 2020. The former president is currently facing 91 charges.
These indictments are a personal issue for Trump’s supporters. Many of them likely see this as an attempt to weaponize the government against Trump and those who share his views.
The reports that detail how the FBI and Justice Department target conservatives such as pro-lifers, Catholics, and parents who are concerned about the indoctrination of children in public schools and the defendants from Jan. 6, only serve to further demonstrate why people might be concerned about corruption within the justice system.
The use of government to attack Trump’s political career is not a new phenomenon. The right-wingers are most likely to remember the FBI’s role in promoting the infamous Russia Collusion Hoax and the spying on Trump’s campaign during the 2016 election.
Trump also championed, during his tenure as president, the First Step Act – a bipartisan law aimed at improving criminal Justice and reducing recidivism. The program has been a huge success so far in reducing the number of federal prisoner who commit new crimes after their release. The passage of the bill was cheered by many on the right, especially Trump Republicans.
Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis claimed falsely that it was a “jailbreak law” that released violent offenders, who then went on to harm more people. This illustrates further the divide between Trump Republicans (and non-Trump Republicans) on criminal justice reform.
Could this be a sign of a larger paradigm shift in the Republican Party’s approach to criminal justice? It is certainly possible. Before Trump was named the face of the First Step Act in Congress, Republicans and Democrats had worked together to draft legislation that could have been the start of a larger push for a more fair and just system. There are many on the right that do not support these changes. However, the conservative base seems to be more open-minded, which is good for the country’s future.
Also, it is worth noting that if Republicans were to take a more serious approach to protecting the rights of people and ensure that our justice system was designed to rehabilitate individuals who have broken the law, this could be a good counterpoint to progressive reforms, which prioritize protecting violent criminals above safeguarding law-abiding residents. I would say that people would support sensible changes in our justice system more than they would with leftist ideas which will not actually lead to a safer, freer society. It’s one of many areas where conservatives can take the lead and offer real solutions to criminal justice.