James Leroy Wilson's blog

Tuesday, July 25, 2006

Legalize Drugs

This op-ed by Terry Michael in the Washington Times manages to get all the good points for drug legalization into one short piece. Terry Michael is a libertarian Democrat, and I think he points to a direction that Democrats ought to go.

No matter what Democrats do, they will be described and/or smeared for believing in "personal freedom." It's become old - and has always been inaccurate - but it is said that Democrats/liberals/the Left believe in personal freedom but not economic freedom. And the Republicans/conservatives/the Right believe in economic freedom but not personal freedom. No matter what is actually said and done, these descriptions always seems to stick; no matter what they do, Republicans "favor the rich" (the Left's view of economic freedom) and the Democrats favor moral decadence (the Right's view of personal freedom).

In 2000, I would have voted for President Bush if he did one thing - promise to try to repeal all tax hikes since the 1986 Tax Reform. Instead, he would only cut Clinton's; apparently he had neither the guts nor the principles to undo his father's tax hikes (too bad he didn't follow his father's policy of not invading Iraq). Bush promised a top marginal rate of 33% instead of 26%, and the final compromise arrived at 37%. This 2% was too small to impact the economy, while at the same time it stifled revenues causing record deficits.

But what have we heard since then? "Tax cuts for the rich," over and over again, even though taxes were cut for everyone. No matter how small the cuts for the rich actually were, Bush would get blamed for catering to the rich. And that is why he should have supported much steeper cuts; after all, he was going to be blamed anyway. Because of his timidity on the tax question, I decided Bush wouldn't be a strong or principled leader or good President, and I voted for the Libertarian Party's Harry Browne.

It is pointless for a politician to be timid. 40% of the population won't like you no matter what you do. The best one can do is earn the trust of the people in the middle who are undecided. They may disagree with you on an issue, but will respect your for taking and holding a stand.

So Democratic candidates should embrace social liberalism and personal freedom, instead of saying "me, too" on the War on Drugs, the Patriot Act, and censorship. No matter what they'll do, they'll be accused of being appeasers and soft and crime. So let it rip! Call for significant drug reform, and ideally outright legalization. Deep down, most people on both sides of the aisle know the War on Drugs is failing, the Democrats could get a good number of people who currently don't vote, and besides, it's the right thing to do.

1 comment:

  1. I don't think this quite a semantical argument, but I prefer the term "decriminalization" to "legalization." Legalization implies potential state involvement.