Many thoughtful, law-abiding Americans scratch their heads about the sales pitch many Democratic candidates for president are using to promote the idea that convicted felons should be allowed to vote in elections. On the surface, it doesn’t seem to make sense for people who have broken the laws to have a say in elections that determine the people who make and enforce the laws. It’s a clear conflict of interests.
But that won’t dissuade the Democrats from pushing forward. They need it. Most felons are Democrats. As the party that paints itself as lighter on crime and more compassionate towards wrongdoers, it behooves them to appeal to felons and families of felons, not just because they’re usually Democrats but also because the push for freedom of themselves or loved ones is a compelling pitch come election day.
Who wouldn’t vote to accelerate their own freedom?
On the surface, it may seem like a hard pitch to make even to many Democrats, but how it’s framed is just as important as who gets the benefit. To see proper framing, we turn to former Justice Democrat and current Chief of Staff for Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Saikat Chakrabarti, who is the brains behind the operation and the driving force for many of the talking points we’re seeing among Democratic candidates today. Chakrabarti revealed what the sales pitch from Democrats needs to be on this issue.
What's the reason NOT to let incarcerated people vote? Shouldn't the people most affected by unjust laws have some say in electing people to change them?
— Saikat Chakrabarti (@saikatc) April 24, 2019
“Unjust laws.” There it is. There’s the frame that delivers the benefit of the doubt. Keep in mind, they don’t need to convince people that felons deserve to vote. They simply need to plant a seed of a reason to allow it. If you ask an average American if they believe some of the laws in America are unjust, it would be hard to find someone who would say no. By framing the voting rights of convicted felons against the backdrop of unfair laws, they plant the suspension of disbelief necessary to make many Americans bypass the policy proposal altogether. They may not agree with it, but if they can understand there’s a singular perspective that justifies it in the eyes of some, they’ll be more willing to overlook it as a minor issue.
The new Democrats will try to normalize some of their radical views like socialism or Medicare-for-All. But some of their views will be framed in a way that allows them to be disregarded. This is one of those and it just might work.
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