After decades of working with Republicans to destroy people with their much-vaunted war on drugs, some Democrats are now coming out in favor of legalizing marijuana. Their change of position is a testament to the power of the shifting winds of public opinion. When the winds shift, so do the positions of many political types.
Unfortunately, however, such Democrats continue to support the drug war with respect to other drugs, such as heroin, cocaine, meth, and opioids. When it comes to freedom, Democrats, like Republicans, just don’t get it.
In a genuinely free society, people have the fundamental, natural, God-given right to ingest whatever they want, no matter how harmful, destructive, or dangerous the substance they are ingesting. If people are punished for ingesting non-approved substances in the privacy of their own homes, there is no way that that society can be considered a genuinely free society. It is not a coincidence that there are drug laws in China, North Korea, Vietnam, Cuba, Egypt, Myanmar, and other totalitarian or authoritarian regimes.
Moreover, there is the utilitarian case against the drug war. Despite decades of warfare, it hasn’t achieved its purported end — the elimination or drastic reduction in drug consumption. Think of all the people, drug cartels, drug gangs, and drug dealers that have been busted in the last 40 years. And then think about the level of drug consumption today. The drug war has accomplished nothing.
If the consequences of this government program were neutral, that would be bad enough. But they’re not. The consequences have been horrific. The drug war has given rise to violent drug cartels and drug gangs and to violent turf battles, assassinations of government officials and reporters, robberies, muggings, thefts, and governmental corruption, especially in the form of bribes. It has torn apart the fabric of society, not only here in the United States but also in Latin America and elsewhere.
There has also been the collateral attacks on the freedom and privacy of the American people. No-knock violent, terrifying drug raids in which both citizens and the police have been killed. Secret surveillance of the citizenry. Corrupt plea bargains that bribe drug-law violators into becoming snitches, which then jeopardizes their lives. Asset-forfeiture laws that enable the police and the DEA to steal money, cars, and other assets from people without notice and hearing. Warrantless searches and secret surveillance.
And then there is the racial bigotry. The drug war has enabled bigoted cops to harass and abuse African-Americans to their hearts content—and it’s all legal. In fact, the drug war has become the most racially bigoted government program since segregation, perhaps more so. Under segregation, Democrats and Republicans at least permitted blacks to continue living in the community, albeit in segregated areas. With the drug war, Democrats and Republicans have been able to remove large numbers of blacks from communities and relocate them in places called federal penitentiaries.
The only ones who are left benefitting from this evil, immoral, destructive, and racially bigoted war are the people making money and gaining power from it — like judges, prosecutors, court clerks, law-enforcement officials, the DEA, politicians, and, of course, the drug gangs and drug cartels, which would be immediately put out of business with drug legalization.
How do we get Democrats to go all the way and legalize all drugs? Keep the winds of public opinion shifting toward drug legalization. That’s also the way to get Republicans moving in the same direction.