One year after the police shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, police brutality and racial disparities in the criminal justice system are still huge issues. Hillary Clinton dedicated a big chunk of her first 2016 presidential campaign speech to them. Other Democratic candidates had their campaigns temporarily derailed because they didn't sufficiently answer questions about these issues when asked by Black Lives Matter.
But while watching the first Republican presidential debate on Thursday, it almost seemed like no one cared about these issues. Two questions were asked about race relations and police — to Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker and Ben Carson — and both candidates gave relatively bland, canned answers, with no specific policy ideas.
This might seem weird. How can such a big issue go ignored by the Republican Party? But it's not surprising when looking at the polling, which shows that Democrats and Republicans have vastly different views on how black people are treated in the US.
In a June poll of 2,000 US adults, Gallup found that 31 percent of Democrats are satisfied with how black people are treated in the US, compared with 66 percent of Republicans. And although Gallup found a decline in satisfaction for both Democrats and Republicans since 2013, Democrats saw a much sharper decrease.
So this is just another issue that the country is really polarized on. Democrats are pushing for body cameras and other reforms because that's what their base cares about. Republicans are ignoring the issue, because their base sort of is, too.