U.S. Senate candidate Mike Broihier is one of many hoping to unseat Majority Leader Mitch McConnell this fall; however, as Broihier heads into the Democratic primary election Tuesday, he is focusing on his platform and how timely some issues have become in the past few months.
Specifically, Broihier’s criminal justice reform plan has cropped to the top.
Broihier’s five-part plan begins with forming a congressionally charted criminal justice overhaul commission to determine how the system can be overhauled.
“It’s been done in the past, and there’s been no action on the results of it,” he said, “but the difference between my proposal and others is that this one would have a binding mandate, which means when their results come out, Congress would be required to vote on it.”
Broihier said putting legislators on record for a vote will show who does and doesn’t support a reform of the criminal justice system. His ideas also include ending the “war on drugs,” removing war-level equipment from law enforcement and eliminating the for-profit prison industrial complex.
Broihier said the commission would reach across a variety of sectors, such as economists, law professors, public defenders and others who work in the justice system.
“The difference in this commission and others ones we’ve had in the past is this one would all be made up of people of color,” he said, noting that includes Native Americans. “This one won’t be made up of a bunch of old white guys sitting in a room trying to figure this out.”
Broihier, a white man himself, noted that his own team is made up of a variety of people for that specific reason. Since the pandemic, his team has organized a variety of community conversations with people from different races and backgrounds, including a retired black police officer who noted that there are systemic flaws within the police force.
“I have one or two folks on my team who were able to organize these people together,” he said, noting that it was enlightening even for him. “Sometimes you just have to shut up and let people talk and pay attention to what they’re saying.”
In addition to the overhaul commission, Broihier has some other issues that are coming to the forefront.
His support of a Universal Basic Income — which would give $1,200 per month for every adult and $400 for every child — was thrust into the spotlight when the COVID-19 economic crisis began. The idea was first promoted by former presidential candidate Andrew Yang in 2017, but looks similar to the COVID-19 stimulus checks Americans received.
Broihier said before any issues can be addressed by legislators, they must first tackle COVID-19.
“Pandemic response of course is important,” he said. “The very first thing is we’re going to be dealing with a very bad recession or a depression that’s going to follow this pandemic ... I think things are going to get way worst before they get better.”
He noted that getting people back to work is paramount, and pairing jobs with building a green economy at the national level could benefit everyone, including those in coal country.
“Their jobs in either agriculture and coal mining really translate well to large-scale infrastructure projects,” he said. “Let’s get people to work, pay a prevailing wage, and then on the back side of it, you’ve got really good infrastructure.
“If you focus on green energy, you will put a dent in our carbon footprint as well. ... And when you bring in the infrastructure, industries will follow along with jobs not just for now, but for their children in the future.”
Broihier believes getting McConnell out of office is the first step to moving Kentucky and the country forward.
“Of course beating Mitch McConnell fundamentally changes things in the Senate,” he said. “So everything everyone says about ‘Oh, that would never come to a vote,’ by simply beating McConnell, I think you will see a lot of Republican senators who say, ‘We need to be a part of this conversation before we get plowed over.’ ”
Broihier said he hopes that getting rid of McConnell would show that the country is fundamentally changing.
“It’s time to get on board,” Broihier said, “whether it’s this criminal justice overhaul or universal background checks or the Violence Against Women Act — any of these things that are essentially dead in the Senate because of Mitch McConnell, (senators) might want to start taking another look at it before history catches up to them.”
To learn more about Broihier, visit his website at mikeforky.com.