I intended to put into practice what I tell my students -- that the best way to learn is to talk with people who disagree you. I wanted to learn from red America, and hoped they'd also learn a bit from me (and perhaps also buy my book). But something odd happened. It turned out that many of the conservative Republicans and Tea Partiers I met agreed with much of what I had to say -- and I agreed with them.
The state of our criminal justice system is simply so bad, the political climate for change so good, that it would be an epic desertion of our civic duties -- and of the pressure we as voters possess -- to let the 2016 election slip by without electoral promises of far-reaching reform. Which is why criminal justice must be a key issue for 2016 voters.
It would have been difficult, after the 2014 elections, to imagine that President Barack Obama could achieve much of anything in his last two years in office. After all, the opposition Republican Party had taken control of both houses of Congress in the midterm elections in 2014. The Supreme Court, led by the right-leaning Chief Justice John Roberts, maintained a narrow conservative majority. And the president's approval rating had dropped below 50 percent. And yet here we are, only a few months after the new Congress took up residence on Capitol Hill, with a suddenly resurgent president. Just in the last few weeks, President Obama has been scoring a surprising number of domestic and foreign policy victories. His critics are cowed. The president reached a 50 percent public approval rating for the first time since May 2013.