There was a time when conservatives either all supported the death penalty, or were quiet in their opposition. But that time has passed.
Slowly but surely over the past decade, more and more conservatives have begun voicing concern over capital punishment, the nation’s worst example of an inefficient and poorly run government program. The pinnacle came earlier this year when conservative legislators took the lead in red state Nebraska to repeal the state’s death penalty once and for all.
In September of this year, Colby Coash, the Republican Senator who led the conservative charge in Nebraska, joined with NC Republicans to call on conservatives in our state to reconsider capital punishment’s place in the conservative platform.
And just a few weeks ago, the Pope addressed Congress, calling the death penalty an affront to human dignity and encouraged the US to join the rest of the civilized world and replace the death penalty.
Last week, the National Evangelical Association announced a dramatic change to their forty yearlong platform of support for the death penalty. NAE acknowledged the tremendous problems with capital punishment and took a new softer position, recognizing that Evangelicals have differing positions on the policy.
And just this week, former Governor of Florida, Jeb Bush, who signed 21 death warrants while in office, admitted to his being conflicted about the death penalty, particularly as a matter of his Catholic faith.
Conservatives around the country are recognizing that the death penalty fails to meet the standards so many of us hold dear. Many are motivated by a pro-life perspective or a belief that we should not tinker with God’s ability to redeem. Some of us are motivated by libertarian views skeptical of giving the Government the ultimate power over its citizens.
It makes little difference which reason draws conservatives to the conclusion that the death penalty is out of step with our values. The reality is, we can keep our communities safe by spending millions less each year and that’s something we can all agree on.