Here’s a radical proposal for Mitt Romney: If he wants to pick up the much-coveted support of Ron Paul’s energized and organized “army,” the best way to their hearts might be through marijuana.
Pot legalizers note that he could couch his support in terms of a 10th amendment argument — essentially saying it should simply be up to states to decide for themselves. That would allow him to maintain his own opposition to legalization while also giving a shout-out to social conservatives, who love a good nod to state’s rights. [Washington Post]
At first glance this strikes me as a bit too ingenious to actually happen in real life. But nothing is impossible when it comes to the possibility of Mitt Romney changing his position on controversial issues in the hopes of getting himself elected.
I don't see any reason that the instinctive anti-pot posturing we've come to expect from him couldn't get tweaked just enough to open an interesting new angle for the Romney campaign. The real challenge would be conveying the actual facts of the matter to Romney's team in such a way that they recognize the opportunity that exists and the limited scope of the measures required to take advantage of the situation.
Unfortunately, I doubt anyone they'd listen to is actually trying to sell them this storyline, but if someone did, they might begin by introducing the following:
A. Support for medical marijuana is around 80% nationally.
B. Support for marijuana legalization is around 50% nationally.
C. Obama's pledge to respect state medical marijuana laws generated positive media attention and widespread public support.
D. Obama's violation of that pledge drew negative media attention and widespread public disapproval.
E. Obama's recent assault against medical marijuana is very unpopular in Colorado, a key swing state.
F. Romney has no other plausible plan for appealing to Ron Paul's vigorous support base.
A simple nod to state's rights on this issue would ignite a hard-to-reach constituency, while creating virtually zero political risk. Romney would basically be adopting the same medical marijuana position that Obama used successfully in '08. It's a perfect flanking maneuver that would more or less render the candidates indistinguishable on marijuana policy, a comparison that primarily hurts Obama because his supporters expect him to be better.
Would anyone from the right or the left criticize the Romney campaign for doing this? Would any republicans get upset about Romney's state's rights position on medical marijuana and opt instead to support Obama and his incoherent, contradictory position that nobody even understands? No, they wouldn't. It's probably only a slight exaggeration to say that Romney would literally lose zero votes by doing this, while picking up a potential windfall of libertarian-leaning republicans just waiting for Romney to give them a reason to get on board.
Unfortunately, at present, the chances of something like this working are much higher than the chances of it actually happening, because politicians and their handlers remain convinced that no one in America supports any change in our marijuana policy, despite the abundance of very clear evidence to the contrary.
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