Why Isn't the Drug War a Mainstream Political Issue?

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Pete Guither has a typically observant post noting the lack of serious drug policy discussion among top-tier political bloggers:
Obviously, to drug policy reformers, the war on drugs is one of the critical issues of our time -- it affects everything, from criminal justice and fundamental Constitutional rights to education to foreign policy to poverty and the inner cities, and on and on.

So it can be baffling to note the degree to which serious discussions about the drug war tend to be missing from the major political blogs on the right and the left.
Worse yet, the reluctance of established political blogs to enter the drug policy debate is dwarfed by the longstanding refusal of mainstream journalists and politicians to do so. Drug reporting in the mainstream press is an ongoing abomination, with exceptions so rare that they provoke widespread fascination when they occur.

Why then is America's political culture so desperate to avoid discussing this issue? Pete argues correctly that both parties have been so consistently bad on drug policy that neither side has moral standing to condemn the other. He's talking about bloggers, but this idea has broad implications. So long as both parties remain essentially comfortable wasting billions in tax dollars on a failed drug control strategy, there is no incentive to exhaust political capital challenging the status quo.

D.C. radio personality Kojo Nnamdi offered a complementary theory this morning on NPR, which I find equally helpful. Referencing the same excellent Washington Post story mentioned in Pete's post, Nnamdi suggested that politicians realize something is wrong, but are unsure what else to propose. There's a lot to this when you consider how ignorant most politicians are about the finer points of the war on drugs. As obvious as it is to many of us that progress can't occur until the drug war ends, this conversation is dark territory for a politician with aggressive enemies and a flimsy grip on the subject matter. Nor are they eager to familiarize themselves with an issue that lacks apparent traction and is perceived (often erroneously, but still) as politically suicidal.

Reformers struggle to explain how we'll overcome these obstacles, and I'm skeptical of anyone who thinks they've figured it out. Our watershed moment will arrive, I believe, through events beyond our control. Recent discussion of the drug war's role in financing terror provides just one example of how new priorities can raise doubts about the old ones.

The future will bring many unexpected changes, but it will never redeem drug prohibition and its infinitely corrupting, ruinous legacy. I don't know what it will take to finally put this horrible war on trial, but I'm certain we'll find out.

United States
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Looking for the easiest way to join the anti-drug war movement? You've found it!

Ron Paul, Mike Gravel, Dennis Kucinich

All 3 oppose the drug laws...
For varying reasons.

The only one with a shot is Ron Paul

Mike Gravel doesn't agree with the laws because, "Everyone gets high, no one hurts anyone - it shouldn't be a crime." talking specifically about marijuana.
I'm not certain of Kucinich's position.

Ron Paul's position is that the Federal Government doesn't have the authority to make these laws. And it seems that he's right.

With continued drug busts such as this disgusting news report;

7 people, participating in capitalistic ventures, had their homes raided, their businesses ruined, property seized, and now face criminal charges for...

For... what?

Owning property and selling it?

U.S. Code Title 18 (crimes) Chapter 13 (civil rights)
Section 241 - Conspiracy against rights
Section 242 - Deprivation of rights under Color of Law

242's text includes;
"Whoever, under color of any law, statute, ordinance, regulation, or custom, willfully subjects any person in any State, Territory, Commonwealth, Possession, or District to the deprivation of any rights, privileges, or immunities secured or protected by the Constitution or laws of the United States..."

Wait a minute - aren't we secure in our persons, papers (business deals), homes, etc...?

4th amendment;
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Probable cause, eh?
Probable cause of what? That there was a crime committed?
Owning property is a crime?

How can owning property be a crime if there is no victim? If no one's rights are being violated?
If no one is harmed, no one's property is harmed or stolen?

Where is the crime?

Isn't the crime the initiation of force by the arresting officers that violated the security of these people's "papers" (business dealings), then their homes, persons, STOLE their effects (property), and have now deprived them of both their liberty and right to pursue happiness?

What was the purpose of government again anyway?
The Declaration of Independence states the purpose of government thusly;
"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it..."

So... to secure the rights of life, liberty (self ownership, ability to own property, sell property, and decide what FOR YOU is best FOR YOU), and pursuit of happiness (reiteration of property rights and right to Contract (sell/barter with your property) FOR ALL...

That was the purpose of government?

And now, you're telling me, that owning property is a crime.
Selling your private property is a crime.
Thinking for yourself and acting upon your own conscience and continence is a crime...

Just who's rights are the government protecting?

What happened to the NECESSITY of Corpus Delicti? (Body of the Crime) Spooner (first link) wrote about this.

The Supreme Court has ruled on this.
Corpus Delicti REQUIRES that there be a LOSS OR INJURY, and a person RESPONSIBLE for the loss or injury.

In Allen v Wright
"The requirement of standing, however, has a core component derived directly from the Constitution. A plaintiff must allege personal injury fairly traceable to defendant’s allegedly unlawful conduct and likely to be redressed by the requested relief."

Put simply; (from Adventures in Legalland)
(1) the government was established/instituted for one purpose i.e., to secure/protect rights;

(2) the courts being a part of the government have the same singular purpose i.e., to secure/protect rights;

(3) the courts' jurisdiction has one purpose i.e., to secure/protect rights;

(4) Standing to invoke a court's jurisdiction requires the allegation a right is being violated.

No prosecutor in ANY drug case has standing (unless there was theft or violence associated with the crime - however those are different counts against the defendant - the drug charges themselves are ALWAYS brought without standing).

It is A FEDERAL CRIME under U.S. Code Title 18 Chapter 13 section 241 to support the drug laws.
It is a FEDERAL CRIME to execute ANY action under the drug laws.

The War on Drugs isn't even an issue.
It's a crime within itself...

And needs dealt with and done away with.

As Vices cannot be Crimes, the government has no authority/standing to create/enforce these laws.

The entire thing is based on fraud - that the government's JOB is to protect you.

They aren't protecting you - they're ENSLAVING you - Stripping you of your freedoms/liberties/rights, and FORCING you to act in a particular way... One illegal law/statue at a time.

Not to mention they are endanguring you further by enforcing these laws - with emphasis on enFORCEing.

More people have died because of POLICE ACTION against NON-VIOLENT drug offenders than people have died from DRUG RELATED reasons prior to the laws coming into existence.

How does this equate to "PROTECTION" from the government?

The whole thing makes no sense.
There isn't a debate to be held.

The drug laws are NOT constitutional, do NOT protect the people.

The DO CREATE an increase in street crimes.
They DO incite hatred and fear.
They DO create a destabilization in foreign commerce...

Mexico is in an all out WAR right now - the Government using its military to attack its citizens - for owning and selling property.

If you want to get rid of ALL drug RELATED crime over night, make drugs legal.

There will never be another shooting over drug debt.
There will never be another pusher trying to get kids addicted to IMPURE substances with NO quality control.
There will be no more ACCIDENTAL overdoses because of QUALITY irregularities.
There will be no more DEATHS from adulterated substances.
There will be LESS street crime.

The Drug War isn't an issue - it's a catastrophe.
Anyone looking with ANY sense at it can see that it needs to go away.

There is NOTHING beneficial about the drug laws.

"Why Isn't the Drug War a Mainstream Political Issue"

Because we are NOT making it one. Please Please figure a way to quickly capitalize on this piece to inject the drug war into the presidential campaign.

I just posted this on a thread at Drug WarRant:
I am wondering about the viability of a fax protest campaign directed at all of the presidential candidates. How many people can we induce or inspire to use their fax capability one day to fax a blizzard of copies of "The Lost War" to them all. Enough copies that the media learns of it.

It would be fun to do all of the 535. People don't realize that all that is needed to end the drug war is getting a majority of 535 Americans. The congress. I feel like this article can be a seminal moment for the reform moment because of the credibility of the venue it is in, the Washington Post, and the massive totality of the report. It is changing minds.

A conservative Black friend admitted to me this morning that the column opened her eyes. I've been talking to her for years.

Their ass is in the wind and begging for a good kicking.
This article can open eyes if it is mass disseminated right. Lots of people across the nation faxing their rep.'s and senators at the same time.

I have posted the contact information for the six creeps who call themselves the "U.S. Senate Caucus on International Narcotics Control". http://independentsofamerica.blogspot.com/2007/08/us-senate-caucus-on-in...

Tons of people faxing them at the same time with the article would impact at least Joe Biden, the chair, and presidential candidate.

Political Investment

The question of why the Drug War fails to be a mainstream political issue goes right to the heart of why there should be a war on drugs at all.

One problem is that those who have supported the drug war in the past are now politically invested in their decision. To dismiss that initial decision means accepting the fact that one is responsible for millions of people being victimized by the drug laws for no justifiable reason. This places the drug war in the same category as other crimes against humanity, such as the witch hunts or the inquisitions.

I think the problem is made more difficult by an intentional lack of flexibility imposed upon modern American law in the last twenty years. For example, during the European witch hunts, as more and more innocent people were accused, friends and relatives began to see the witch superstition for the fraud it was. Judges began to refrain from imposing penalties upon the convicted, and in most cases prosecutors could no longer obtain convictions. Something similar was happening in American court rooms to soft drug crimes in the 70s. To counter this phenomenon, Drug Czar Bill Bennett introduced mandatory minimum sentencing into the drug laws in the 80s. The natural processes that would have allowed the anti-marijuana laws to fade away in the manner of other blue laws, with much less debate and no embarrassing recriminations, ceased to be an option.

war on the people

This is absurd, their ''war'' is on people,their gestapo like police are at liberty to do,say anything they want,they steal they get away w/murder,and the sheep in our house of represetatives are of little to no use at all,and our ''new'' drug czar...''marijuana could be found to completely cure cancer,if its on the books as illegal,you're going to prison!...she really wanted this position to,hope she chokes on it!.......donl

After thinking about this over night...

The reason it isn't mainstream is because the drug war is a CRIME against the united states citizens.

Breaking this story is going to create some HEAVY resistance and trouble for whomever starts talking about it openly.

Honestly, I don't think it's mainstream because "No one cares about the drug laws."

It just isn't important to them.

I find that very odd though - my parents could care less about the drug laws - they don't use, don't want to use... and frankly, don't really care.

Right now, they support the drug laws - because it would shatter their world view if the drug laws were "wrong."
As it is, it's shattering their world view that their, "Kind loving son" could ever "do something like that"

And I continue to counter - "Something like what? Giving people something they're asking for? Allowing people to be happy and think for themselves? And you want me to be SORRY about this?"

The problem is that thinking about the drug laws is a problem.
And people HATE adding problems to their lives.

Can you imagine if a political activist had to argue for banning abortion AND the upholding the drug laws?
They'd go crazy.

As long as there are only 2-3 MAIN issues, everything works smoothly.

As soon as you start getting more than that, people have to actually THINK rather than just follow someone blindly because their MAIN issue of the MAIN 3 is represented strongly by someone.

People LIKE being ignorant.
They like it when other people think for them.

They like having irrational emotional responses that aren't based on facts.

Breaking the drug war into the mainstream would invalidate all these emotional responses, shine light on the facts, and destroy the delicate balance our government has created - "Fear everything but us, let us protect you."

If we wake up to the realization that the government is the only thing we should fear, they lose their power.

You can't make this a big issue without destroying the government.

And a lot of people don't want the government to be destroyed.

puregenius's picture

The greatest lie

I am not sure why the MSM doesn't take up this issue more. If the media has a liberal bias as many claim, it should certainly be discussed often. I believe politicians avoid it because a serious shift in policy would destroy the little trust in government that remains.

Politicians and the drug war

I think the other reason politicians support the drug war is that it allows them to pander to people's fears, and saying "drugs are dangerous, I'll protect your children from them" works on the voters. Even if legalization and regulation would ultimately be less dangerous, it's hard for people to grasp that. Supporting legalization is risky because it just doesn't sound good to the public, who only hear things in simplistic soundbites.

harrison act

have we forgotten how the us govt has screwed this bill up??? it was intended for chemical drug control not herbal,(marijuana, mushrooms, etc)!!! the govt hides under this law to bust marijuana users, and they use this as there foundation??? no where in this article does it say anything about the control or use of marijuana in any way, only cocaine opium and heroin. the constituion and the bill of rights gives us the right to induce anything into our body without fear of prosecution.PEOPLE ITS TIME WE TAKE OUR COUNTRY BACK FROM THE THUGS AND CORPORATE RAN GUSTAPO'S. OUR FOREFATHERS MADE IT CLEAR THAT ITS THE GOVT THAT SHOULD FEAR THE PEOPLE NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND AS IT IS NOW!!!

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