In the wake of a CNN town hall this Monday, news headlines more or less declared, ‘Bernie Sanders Says Boston Bomber Should Have the Right to Vote.’ It clearly wasn’t the soundbite Sanders wanted from the event, but according to Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Sanders was asked the wrong question.
During the town hall, Sanders was asked if he believes the right to vote should extend to violent and high-level criminals, such as Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.
“If somebody commits a serious crime, sexual assault, murder, they’re going to be punished,” Sanders said. “They may be in jail for 10 years, 20 years, 50 years, their whole lives. That’s what happens when you commit a serious crime.”
Sanders added that “the right to vote is inherent to our democracy” even when it comes to “terrible people.” But AOC thinks the important question is getting lost in the backlash to Sanders’ comments, and said so in a series of tweets this Thursday.
“To avoid looking completely + utterly out of touch w/ the reality our prison system: Instead of asking, ‘Should the Boston Bomber have the right to vote?’ Try, ‘Should a nonviolent person stopped w/ a dime bag LOSE the right to vote?'” AOC tweeted. “[Because] that question reflects WAY more people.”
To avoid looking completely + utterly out of touch w/ the reality our prison system:
Instead of asking, “Should the Boston Bomber have the right to vote?”
Try, “Should a nonviolent person stopped w/ a dime bag LOSE the right to vote?”
Bc that question reflects WAY more people.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) April 25, 2019
In response to his comments, the Republican National Committee issued a statement denouncing Sanders.
“Bernie Sanders, the current front-runner for the Democratic nomination, just made it clear he wants convicted terrorists, sex offenders and murderers to vote from prison,” the statement read. “The Boston Marathon Bomber killed three people and injured 280 more. Bernie’s concern? That he gets his absentee ballot.”
Earlier this month, Sanders called on more states to join Maine and his home state of Vermont in allowing felons the right to vote.
“I think that is absolutely the direction we should go,” Sanders said at a town hall in Muscatine, Iowa on April 7.
“In my state, what we do is separate. You’re paying a price, you committed a crime, you’re in jail. That’s bad,” he said. “But you’re still living in American society and you have a right to vote.”
Featured image: VICE News