GOP Victory Plan

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There has been much ado about losses the Republican Party is expected to take this upcoming election cycle. There is one angle which the GOP could take with which they’d be likely to continue to control both houses of congress: Changing their position on the drug war. It seems unlikely that the GOP would lose many votes over this issue, but they’d gain a lot of independent, libertarian, and even Democratic support.

John Stossel is a favorite of right-wingers who still believe the Republican Party is the more conservative of the two major parties. He just posted an article at conservative TownHall.com renouncing his former views on the drug war. From the article:

Getting high can be bad. Putting people in prison for it is worse. And doing the latter doesn’t stop the former.

I was once among the majority who believe that drug use must be illegal. But then I noticed that when vice laws conflict with the law of supply and demand, the conflict is ugly, and the law of supply and demand generally wins.

The drug war costs taxpayers about $40 billion. “Up to three quarters of our budget can somehow be traced back to fighting this war on drugs,” said Jerry Oliver, then chief of police in Detroit, told me. Yet the drugs are as available as ever.

While I doubt I could ever be a Republican again (no matter how libertarian their positions might become, they’ve repeatedly violated my trust), comments about the Stossel article indicate that a lot of Republicans don’t agree with the war on drug users. Here’s a sampling:

I think you don’t go far enough in your article. If we decriminalise drugs, we can divert a mere portion of the $40 billion into rehabilitation of drug dependant users and also into education of its consequences.

Two important comments I feel should always be added into the killing the war on drugs and making them legal. They are: employers do not have to hire you if you choose to use these drugs, and we must also do away with any social programs that entail addicts or recovering addicts to government money. With the addition of these two items you have a completely fool proof method of helping people understand why they should or should not do them and what happens when they do.

Thanks to Mr. Stossel for a well reasoned piece. I dislike addictive drugs (incl. alcohol and nicotine) as much as anyone, but harsh penalties only compound the problem.

John, I couldn’t agree with you more. I’ve been saying this for years. Nobody wants a bunch of “stoners” in our country, yet despite our best efforts we still have them; and always will.

I agree. Life sentences in Michigan for distribution sure didn’t work. Teaching kids about drugs (DARE program) has a negligible to negative effect on drug use, but it makes parents, teachers, and politicians feel better.

There are also these sorts of folks in the conservative movement:

I just think that the argument is the same. If its legal, it must be A-OK.

the solution to the problem is the death penalty for possession for distribution, involuntary sterilization for repated recreational and habitiual drug use, and wholesale agricultural destruction of the crops. Recreational drug users should be disqualified from any and all governmental assistance and drug use by parents should result in the permanent relocation of the dependent children

Surrendering a war because the tactics are not working is irresponsible. Clearly the problem is that the country is lax on the deterrent. Make the deterrent high enough and it can absolutely be controlled.

Offer treatment for first-time convicted users, and give the death penalty for repeat offenders. For those dealers who peddle death to our kids and adults the punishment could be enhanced. Give treatment and a one year prison sentence to small time dealers who plea bargain by giving up the name of their supplier. Repeat offenders and those up the supply chain should be sentenced to death.

After considering that most Republicans in Congress favor the continued death and suffering of medical marijuana patients coupled to these calls for the death penalty for recreational use, I retract my earlier statement. There is no hope for the GOP. With extremist views (and they call us extremists?) such as these, there can be no hope for the Republican Party. I say we flush the GOP down the toilet so they may wallow in their own political excrement.

Props.

26 Comments
  1. Y’know, I always wondered how it would work out if all laws enacted had to have a mandatory term of a “trial period” whereafter it would go under review to see if it met the goals it was designed for. (That is, make laws state goals, and then give them a “dry run” to see if it meets the goal.)

    Under that auspice there’s a lot of things that would be gone right now. ‘course, then there comes the adjudication of efficacy problem… Ahh, well. Utopian dreams anyone?

  2. Both parties have for years been playing a game of one-upmanship in attempting to ‘out-tough’ each other in ratcheting up the penalties for illict drug possession. However, it is arguable that this process has benefited the Republicans over the Democrats. Given that most of those who have been ensared by the drug laws are from the lower ends of the economic spectrum, their political predilections could be safely said to be Democratic supporting in nature, so via voter disenfranchisement resulting from felony drug conviction, the Reps have effectively removed large segments of the population that would have been natural Dem allies. The results are obvious.

    This is too useful a tool for the Reps to give up…besides, it would be political suicide to reverse this course, as it would cause too much cognitive dissonance for the prime Rep base to handle.

  3. As a counterpoint to the above, the Dems have themselves done everything they could to distance themselves from the ‘druggie vote’. All one need do is recall the fact that during the last Presidential election, on the official Kerry website, the comments of drug law reformers offering support was by far the largest section of the site. It was met with chirpy, dismissive vacuity and a “Don’t forget to vote for Kerry!”.

    A bloc of votes millions strong …one that is actually the largest possible bloc in America, as it crosses all the usual demographics…that could overwhelm any *cough* voting machine chicanery *cough*…was rejected. Well, I believe that that was the last time that the drug law reform vote will ever be offered to any political candidate of any noteworthiness until the issue of drug law reform becomes officially a party plank. Until it is, scores of millions of votes will be withheld, as we gain nothing from playing the game without something in return.

  4. “Don’t forget to vote for Kerry!”.

    Dammit, I forgot.

    “Well, I believe that that was the last time that the drug law reform vote will ever be offered to any political candidate of any noteworthiness until the issue of drug law reform becomes officially a party plank. ”

    What makes you believe that?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Civil_death

  5. This raises an interesting question. What if there was a concerted national which said:

    1) If you are a drug reformer and your party has a drug policy reform candidate, vote for him/her.

    2) If your party doesn’t have a drug reform candidate, either cross party lines, vote NOTA for that position, or write in the name of a drug reform candidate within your political party.

  6. So, if the one guy had caught George W. Bush using back in Bush’s sinner days, he would have had Bush sterilized, and had Jenna and Barbara placed in a foster home? Wow, that’s some serious commitment to ending drug use in America!

  7. Pauli, in the time period between the Mid-term and 2004 elections, there was a groundswell of activity at the drug law reform sites I frequent, where many commenters were hoping to engage in a dialog with the Kerry camp after it became apparent that Kucinich (who was and remains much more rational about drug law reform than any of his fellow Dem contenders) would not receive the nomination.

    I and others had been drum-beating for months, especially just before the election, for the reform community to offer its’ support. The results were, as I said, indicative that a great many people read and responded by commenting on the Kerry site. Another example of the power of the ‘Net in action, to marshall so many diverse people who nonetheless had common cause, and point them where their efforts made an impact…if only in showing one thing: We are here, and we are capable of much, much more than keyboard-clattering.

  8. Yes, but what makes you think it will be different next time around? I lost faith in any chance of the DP ending the drug war when they picked Bill Clinton to be their candidate in ’92. I voted Libertarian that year and it took about two more years of study and debate to come around on my holdout issues, but eventually I saw the possibility of libertarian solutions to social problems.

    However, those drug law reformers who went for Kerry last time will probably go for whoever the Democrats nominate next time, to stop the Republicans. With a few exceptions. What in this dynamic has changed?

  9. Sadly, however, the Kerry camp feared being slapped with the paintbrush of cozying up to ‘druggies’ and decided to dismiss what would have quite possibly been a, if not the, decisive factor that could have overcome any…technological advantages, shall we say…that favored the Repubs.

    The drug law reform community, judging from the comments at the sites supporting reform, made it quite clear after the election that without formal acknowledgment of the need for such reform from the candidates, they would expend no further effort for Dems in future elections. Idealism and hopefulness is out; horse-trading is in. And the first party that realizes what a motherlode of dedicated presonnel who are determined in removing the DrugWar jackboot from their necks is waiting to be mined may well win the next election comfortably. But I repeat, that support won’t be given with an empty, easily reneged promise. Not any more.

  10. http://www.capitolhillblue.com/blog/2006/03/immigration_debate_avoids_real.html
    Above link has an interesting comment on the Private Prisons (ALEC) group. It seems that senior lawmakers OWN stocks in the prison system! Get it? Legislators MAKE money out of demonising drug users because said users go to jail-do not pass go…and the lawmakers laugh all the way to the bank…oops I meant the Community Chest (Monopoloy money anyone?) Cheers.

  11. Paulie, here’s a posible answer to your supposition of reformers voting for Dems to stop the Repubs:

    Our people have been catching Hell from both sides; the only thing that another non-reform Dem or Rep elected to power means is that more people – many of whom were moral; cowards in supporting the DrugWar despite its’ obvious damage to society – will reside in the stewpot where we’re already sitting. Nothing changes…for us. Reformers have been concerned about the drift towards fascism as exemplified by the War on Drugs for decades. Ours were voices crying in the wilderness about the dangers of civil forfeiture, usurpations of judges powers via mandatory minimums, weakening Posse Comitatus militarizing police, etc. The same kind of voices now heard on The Left, in their wailing and gnashing of teeth about King Georgie’s antics. It’s all old hat to us. Sadly, with this latest mad dog of an Administration, we have been vindicated.

  12. (continued from #12)

    So, with that as a historical yardstick, reformers have no reason at all to vote for any Dem to counter the Repubs; we’ll get the same treatment no matter who controls Congress or the Executive Branch.

    Unless, of course, it becomes clear that if the need for drug law reform is officially acknowledged, our support will be forthcoming. Then we can begin to ‘talk turkey’.

  13. The key to the world’s drug problem is not to expand the efforts in the so-called war on drugs, but rather to totally change the strategy.

    The Czech Republic has almost no drug problem with only one drug arrest per 100,000 population. The US drug arrest rate is 585 per 100,000 population.

    The Czech Republic is the only country in the world were it is legal for adult citizens to use, possess and grow small quantities of marijuana. And the Czech overall crime rate is a tiny fraction of the US crime rate.

    It’s obvious that when drug users can legally obtain marijuana at an affordable price, they have almost no desire for other drugs.

    If marijuana were legal in the US, our drug war bureaucracy would disappear. And that is the main reason why marijuana is not legal in the US.

  14. kaptinemo, I still am unconvinced that Dem dick will not get sucked unconditionally by reformers. The LP has been around for quite sometime with a solution, but of course it’s not liberal commie pinko bullshit either, so no dope smokers will go for it. No, I see absolutely nothing changing at all anytime soon. Not in 06 and surely not in 08. And not by the “courageous” reformers either. Keep drawing invisible lines in the sand… punish those nasty Dems by voting for them again and again. They’ll get the message. LOL

  15. Devious Dave, evidently I didn’t do a good job of explaining my position, so I’ll try again: IMHO, it won’t make any difference to reformers who is in the White House or Congress until the issue of drug law reform is addressed honestly by either party. Both parties have sought to ignore the issue. And that’s why after 2004, any reformer who votes for either party without a solid committment to drug law reform by them will be never be anything but lickspittles.

    IMHO, the paleoconservative (translation: true conservative) elements of the Republican Party are not sufficiently strong enough yet to challenge the ‘stewardship’ of the minority NeoCons steering the Repugs onto the rocks, and the Dems are like trembling, shell-shocked survivors of multiple disasters, frightened of their own shadows when it comes to doing anything that might be seen as endangering their (slim) chances of ever regaining control of the Executive and Legislative Branches.

  16. “Our people have been catching Hell from both sides; the only thing that another non-reform Dem or Rep elected to power means is that more people – many of whom were moral; cowards in supporting the DrugWar despite its’ obvious damage to society – will reside in the stewpot where we’re already sitting. Nothing changes…for us. Reformers have been concerned about the drift towards fascism as exemplified by the War on Drugs for decades.’

    All true, and all the more reason to be skeptical that some kind of sea-change in thinking has occurred in the movement and constituency as a whole.

    “kaptinemo, I still am unconvinced that Dem dick will not get sucked unconditionally by reformers. The LP has been around for quite sometime with a solution, but of course it’s not liberal commie pinko bullshit either, so no dope smokers will go for it.”

    Some do, and some go Green, but too many still vote Democrat. And the reasons to stop doing so were apparent well before 2004.

  17. “IMHO, it won’t make any difference to reformers who is in the White House or Congress until the issue of drug law reform is addressed honestly by either party. Both parties have sought to ignore the issue. And that’s why after 2004, any reformer who votes for either party without a solid committment to drug law reform by them will be never be anything but lickspittles.”

    Again, true indeed, but how was different before 2004? Congratulations for realizing what I realized in 1992 after the primaries. Some people realized it way before me, and others still will fall for the same lies next time and the time after that – if we still have elections then.

  18. (continued from #16)
    Which is why I say that without some sort of sea-change taking place in either party (the rise of paleoconservatism amongst the Reps after the NeoCon debacle in Iraq causes them to lose face, or the Dems get a major calcium infusion in their gelatinous spines) we can expect nothing more than status quo…which for us means that, as the old saying “Misery loves company” will be proven true. In fact, it’s already happening. Those who’ve seemed only recently concerned about the de facto totalitarian direction the nation is drifting towards will get to shake hands with those who’ve been warning about that drift courtesy of the DrugWar for years.

    Pastor Niemoller and Santayana must be commiserating in the putative Afterlife because too many people still don’t get what they were trying to say. But we ‘get it’, loud and clear.

  19. Paulie, like many people in this country, I saw 2004 as a last chance to redirect the course this country has been on with regards to civil liberties since 1980. In truth, personally, my efforts to rally reform troops to the colors had two goals. The first was to see just how badly reformers wanted change. The second to see if the major parties would take notice. The first succeeded quite well. The second, well, we know what happened. Phase One of the experiment satisfactorily concluded; Phase Two didn’t.

    I never harbored unrealistic hope regarding the possibility of either party, particularly the Dems, to have an epiphany and embrace drug law reform; the historical trend towards greater repression regarding the matter was easy to predict. Such situations usually require ‘shock therapy’, like a national financial disaster, to derail a bad policy’s inertia. So kindly dispense with the condescension; I’ve probably been voting longer than you’ve been breathing.

  20. The sampling may sound encouraging, but the average Republican is never going to post a blog entry. Neither are they going to see the hypocrisy inherant in sitting in a comfortable arm chair drinking 30 year old scotch while explaining to the TV that “the drug war must be won.”

    The party simply has too many sound bytes invested in the prohibition lunacy to make a u-turn. They might consider détente but not an armistice. After all, they have been busy for years chasing the Republicans to the left, what’s one more issue? They would certainly appear more humanized if they at least allowed the states to set their own medical marijuana policies. Maybe the next Republican presidential candidate could promise such a thing, which would be a guaranteed victory, as Republican candidates don’t break campaign promises, particularly on drug issues.

  21. “I never harbored unrealistic hope regarding the possibility of either party, particularly the Dems, to have an epiphany and embrace drug law reform; the historical trend towards greater repression regarding the matter was easy to predict.”

    OK, so why vote for them in 2004 or before, and encourage others to? It wasn’t the first time your “experiment” was tried. I saw 1992 in the same way you saw 2004, and others may see 2008 that way. Do you have some control over a drug reform community unanimity that I was unaware of? People are diverse and have their on thinking and many different influences.

    “So kindly dispense with the condescension; I’ve probably been voting longer than you’ve been breathing.”

    Quite possibly. So what? And no condescension here; any you think you have seen from me is your own misinterpretation. I think you’ve made some very good points, I just haven’t seen you give any real evidence how anything has changed since 2004.

  22. Paulie, I and other reformers made the effort, not out of any sense of the Dems being sure of victory or possessing a moral stance, but because they were largely demoralized. Pure, shameless opportunism, and I make no apologies for that, as they’ve been playing that game of one-upmanship with the Repubs in screwing over illict drug users for decades. They desperately needed votes to counter the uh, er…technological advantages, shall we say?…that the Repubs enjoyed. Given what happened in 2000 and 2002, the writing was on the wall. Only sheer numbers could counterbalance possible voting machine chicanery. That’s what was offered to them…and they rejected it, for reasons I outlined in above posts. And as to ‘influence’, if I have any at all, I can only offer that I have been posting at reform oriented sites for years, and often, after I have done so, I find that my sentiments are echoed in other sites, in many cases word for word. QED

  23. There are the occasional Republicans who aren’t of the tight-fisted, toss-’em’-in-prison, anal-retentive mold, but only two come to mind:

    Former N.M. governor, Gary Johnson, and William F. Buckley.

    There have to be others, but it’s Saturday and thinking hurts on a weekend.

    BTW, if you’ll recall, when Johnson came out in favor of loosening the noose on marijuana laws, he basically slit his own throat, future-electability wise. It was like being excommunicated from the Church of the GOP…

    But then, aren’t there also pro-drug-war assholes in the Dem camp?

  24. Keith, like many reformers, I am well aware of those rare gems of politicians who are not afraid to speak the truth. But the sad fact is that they are but the vocal minority of a much larger group, who privately will tell you, off the record, they don’t believe in the DrugWar, either.

    But they are not about to shout it from the rooftops, for fear the prison/industrial complex will launch its’ cat’s-paws in the ‘concerned parents’ groups (many of whom are funded by Big Pharma, breweries and distilleries; DAMMADD is a perfect example of this) to screech and politic for their electoral defeat.

    Until the day we have a rational public debate about the merits of retaining the drug laws in their present form, drug policy will be steered by those who have the most to gain from retaining the status quo. Which in the final analysis never benefits those footing the tax bill for it.