Ted Cruz says “overwhelming majority” of violent criminals are Democrats

Listen to this demagogue:

That’s Ted Cruz insisting that “the simple and undeniable fact is the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats.” Apparently he decided that his claim that the terrorist attack over Thanksgiving weekend had perhaps been carried out by a “transgendered leftist activist” didn’t go over well, and wanted to substitute black men for trans women as his bogeypeople of choice. Cruz was responding to Hugh Hewitt, who had prompted him by insisting that he had never met anyone in the pro-life movement advocating violence (there have been 73 attacks on abortion clinics since 1997).

Ted Cruz at a treason rally, via Creative Commons

Ted Cruz is a vigorous defender of your right to armed rebellion. As in, violent crime.

Not that Cruz cares, but the claim that “the overwhelming majority of violent criminals are Democrats” is not simple, and it is completely deniable. That’s because there simply isn’t any data on the partisan breakdown of violent criminals. If there were, his campaign would have been able to produce it when asked for comment after he made the claim. They weren’t. Cruz says that “the media doesn’t report” the partisan breakdown of violent criminals because they’re hiding it from the public. The media never reports on the partisan breakdown of violent criminals because no such breakdown exists. No one bothers to poll prison populations because — hey, guess what? — felons have had their voting rights taken away. Which brings me to Cruz’s next point:

Yes, felon disenfranchisement disproportionately affects non-white populations. Normally when rights are being taken away from non-white people at higher rates than from white people, we think that’s a bad thing, regardless as to whether leveling the playing field carries a partisan upshot. Cruz, a self-described smartypants, would no doubt understand me if I invoked Rawls and asked if, under the veil of ignorance, it would be reasonable to deny ex-felons their voting rights after they had completed their sentences. It isn’t. It entails the continued denial of full citizenship after a person’s proverbial “debt to society” has been paid.

What’s more, there is no evidence to suggest that disenfranchisement acts as a deterrent on crime. It’s simply a declaration of superiority — one that excludes ex-felons from society and, if anything, leads to recidivism. There’s a reason why Kentucky governor-elect Matt Bevin, a Tea Partier who is to the right of most of the GOP field on same-sex marriage, health care and a host of other 2016 issues, is in favor of automatic rights restoration. Believe it or not, it isn’t a partisan issue until partisans like Ted Cruz make it one.

Cruz wasn’t done, of course. Sophist that he is, he pivoted away from Hugh’s original question and ran off a greatest hits collection of classic Republican talking points. He called Democrats “soft on crime” because they “appoint to bench judges who release violent criminals,” i.e. Willie Horton. He tied President Obama to Assata Shakur — a “cop killer” — for trying to appoint her lawyer “to a senior Justice Department position” (I have no idea what he’s talking about there; Shakur’s longtime lawyer, Lennox Hinds, remains on Rutgers University’s faculty). It was nails on chalkboard for me; it was music for Hugh Hewitt’s listeners.

Let’s remember this the next time Cruz, who just accused a political party of having a monopoly on mass violence, says that President Obama is “dividing” this country.

Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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