The Kansas Federation of College Republicans, representing every major university in the state and many other postsecondary institutions, unanimously voted as an organization recently to oppose the death penalty in Kansas and call for its repeal. Some were shocked at what was labeled as a “liberal” shift in policy by the federation, but as the group’s chairman, I would argue we are more consistently conservative than ever before.
The death penalty is contrary to conservative values on three different aspects: It entrusts a fallible government with an unnecessary and dangerous power, it imposes a fiscal burden on taxpayers, and – most importantly – goes against a culture of life by risking innocent life.
The Republican Party has always championed the right to life. We find this fundamental belief at America’s founding in the Declaration of Independence: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” The most important of these is the right to life.
Sadly, history has shown that too often government errs with the death penalty and threatens innocent life. Since 1973, 155 individuals in the U.S. sentenced to the death penalty have been exonerated. A study from 2014 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences estimated that 4.1 percent of those sentenced to death in the U.S. are in fact innocent.
We simply cannot support a policy that would endanger even one innocent life.
In no way are we arguing against punishment for those convicted of heinous crimes. We support the full weight of the American justice system to arrest, convict and imprison dangerous individuals, and keep them removed from society for life. It is important to punish evil actions and protect society from dangerous individuals. We can do so, however, without taking life.
I urge all Kansans to take another look at this issue. Let us respect one another and start a productive dialogue. This is a policy that liberals, independents and conservatives can join together and show that not every issue has to be divisive.
Hopefully, we can once again find common ground in this country and move forward together.
The momentum is building. We urge the Republican Party of Kansas, the Kansas Legislature and Gov. Sam Brownback to take another look at this issue and contribute to building a culture of life, from conception to natural death – no exceptions.
We are the College Republicans, and we are a Grand Ole Party for a new generation.
Dalton Glasscock, a student at Wichita State University, is chairman of the Kansas Federation of College Republicans.