At a town hall in early April, he reminded Bernie Sanders that prisoners in his home state of Vermont are allowed to vote and asked if that right should be extended nationally. Sanders agreed it should, and before he knew it, he was being asked variations of the question at Fox News and CNN town halls. Sanders’ critics pounced, and the conservative outrage machine kicked into gear, fueled by President Donald Trump.
The chain of events didn’t start by accident: It was orchestrated by the American Civil Liberties Union, which is coaching activists like Rick as part of a multi-million dollar, below-the-radar campaign to get the 2020 candidates on record about its civil liberties priorities. In Hanover, N.H., an ACLU-linked voter got Kamala Harris’ commitment to support adding a third-gender marker on federal ID cards. The group is also putting Democratic hopefuls on the spot with sensitive questions about immigration and abortion rights.
Each of the exchanges have been captured on video and posted to YouTube, and the answers largely reflect a Democratic primary field that’s veering further to the left. But the ACLU is making that shift happen far more quickly and visibly than it might have otherwise — to the apparent delight of Trump and his supporters.