No issue better captures conservative vapidity than drugs. Their supposed “fear of big government” is somehow not triggered by a US police state, which over the past 40 years has eviscerated the bill of rights, subverted democracy at home and abroad, and given the US the highest incarceration rate and largest prison population in the world.
The US police state went into launch mode decades ago. Though crime rates have been falling for more than 20 years since their 1991 peak, incarceration rates have continued to rise, seemingly independent of the drop in crime. The US incarceration rate is now over 700 per 100,000 – by comparison, the rate in many European countries in under 100. When you include probation and parole, you find that 3% of the US population is under correctional supervision. Drug crimes incarcerate about half of all federal prisoners, and about a quarter of all people in all US prisons.
Press a conservative on his inane opposition to drug legalization, and you’ll hear the squeaky voice of a paternalist with no love for freedom, and no respect for the judgment of other adults on how they choose to organize their lives. Like socialists, conservatives have no trouble subjugating individual liberty to the perceived needs of the collective.
The most common conservative rationale for drug prohibition is the protection of OTHER people from the consequences of an individual’s choice to use drugs. It’s curious that analogous social concerns are never seen in the context of food stamps or welfare – in which conservatives happily let children of poor parents endure severe material privation in the name of “individual responsibility.”
But of course conservatives’ “suffer the little children” feint on drug issues is just lipstick for the pig. Conservatism’s defining trait is its lack of principle. Conservatism is NOT a political philosophy – it’s 10 lbs of shit packed into a 5 lb bag by historical accident. Lacking any principles, conservative positions hover in the ether, without foundations. A trillion dollars spent on the war on drugs hasnt saved lives, reduced usage, or even increased drug prices. And it doesnt protect children. (Ever hear of liquor store owners hawking booze in or around schoolyards?) Conservatives essentially oppose drug legalization in the same way they oppose gay marriage – for no reason at all. Like every other conservative policy position, it isnt about a convincing argument, a principle, or (heaven forbid) observational data or scientific analysis. They oppose it because they oppose it.
Three year olds behave the same. They point their finger and declare “I want that.” A three year isnt interested in the particularities of fairness, history, propriety or decency. They dont give a damn about facts or logic – they know what they want, and naked desire is the alpha and omega of their universe. A three year old’s opinion on who’s turn it is to play with the dolly (mine!) is as immutable as a conservative’s opinion on drug legalization for EXACTLY the same reason. An opinion not based in fact nor derived from logic is amenable to neither.
great all-around source: http://www.sentencingproject.org/template/index.cfm
including these greatest hits:
PS: In response to several readers’ queries on whether Wile E. Coyote (Eatus almost anythingus) ever finally caught and ate the Road-Runner (Velocitus delectiblus), I’m posting this link, in the hope that it settles the matter conclusively: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EuE-GpNV0sY