Republicans Promise to Continue the Drug War

Pete Guither points out that the Republican Party’s newly released platform pledges to continue the disastrous and increasingly unpopular war on drugs:

Continuing the Fight against Illegal Drugs

The human toll of drug addiction and abuse hits all segments of American society. It is an international problem as well, with most of the narcotics in this country coming from beyond our borders. We will continue the fight against producers, traffickers, and distributors of illegal substances through the collaboration of state, federal, and local law enforcement.

In 2008, I’m beginning to doubt that anyone is going to win any votes with this kind of language. Given the risk of rubbing the libertarian crowd the wrong way, it wouldn’t have surprised me to see this rhetoric left out altogether. Of course, that would have been a conspicuous omission, I suppose, and you can bet that we’d have more than a few words to say about that.

On the plus side, Pete noticed that the section called "Locking Up Criminals" omits drug crimes from the list of offenses for which the Republicans support mandatory minimum sentencing:

We support mandatory sentencing provisions for gang conspiracy crimes, violent or sexual offenses against children, rape, and assaults resulting in serious bodily injury.

That’s really a rather positive sign, indicating that we may be moving towards a bipartisan consensus that our drug laws have gone too far.

I’m also tempted to theorize that Obama’s decision to bring Biden onto the ticket may have been a contributing factor here. Months ago, Dick Morris editorialized in favor of attacking Obama on sentencing reform, arguing that by supporting revised crack sentencing guidelines, Obama wants to let thousands of crack dealers out of jail. It’s cynical and ruthless ploy that becomes considerably harder to pull off with Biden on the ticket. Given his central role in pushing through the original sentencing disparity, and his recent evidence-based reversal, Biden has all the credibility to blow any "soft on crack" attacks back to the '80's where they belong. I’m no fan of Biden’s drug war record, but there’s an interesting dynamic here, which I'll concede to those who've argued that Biden's awful history could end up providing cover for reform.

Which brings us to the obvious question: if the democrats don’t support mandatory minimums for drug offenses, and the republicans don’t support mandatory minimums for drug offenses, who does?

(This blog post was published by's lobbying arm, the Drug Reform Coordination Network, which also shares the cost of maintaining this web site. DRCNet Foundation takes no positions on candidates for public office, in compliance with section 501(c)(3) of the Internal Revenue Code, and does not pay for reporting that could be interpreted or misinterpreted as doing so.)

Permission to Reprint: This article is licensed under a modified Creative Commons Attribution license.
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Authoritarians, prison vendors, and John Walters

No one who stands to profit

No one who stands to profit from the continuation of prohibition. Specifically, the governnment and its minions.

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