How should libertarians handle the drug question?
Having only three years or so of libertarian experience, I sometimes find myself in the midst of a learning opportunity. This may well be one of those, but if it spurs some discussion, I am willing to be a martyr.
In the 2008 Presidential election, I was amazed at the intelligence of Bob Barr. I was constantly impressed at the depth of each subject he was asked about. How much basic sense each answer made even though some answers contained a level of sophistication that may have been over the heads of some.
Well, all except for one question.
In an interview with Sean Hannity fairly close to Election Day, Mr. Barr was put on his heels and frankly never recovered. Hannity’s style of attack, which one might term as that of an angry pit bull, didn’t help. That question of course was about the legalization of drugs.
Now don’t get me wrong, I have documented my struggle with this concept, and documented the “light bulb moment” I had - finally understanding that it was part of individual liberty, not to mention the amount of futile spending and creation of powerful underworld figures. It makes sense to me. I agree with it.
However, this question seems to take a serious, if not mortal, toll on all candidates running as small “l” libertarians within the Republican Party. In 2008, it halted what I believe might have been a staggering number of Independents and Republicans willing to vote for the Libertarian Party candidate when the best the Republican Party could offer was John McCain.
My theory is not about this question being asked… it’s going to be asked… but about the available answers. It’s about viable candidates explaining this concept in a thirty second sound bite or a timed answer during a debate that took me weeks, many hours of research and discussion with libertarians, to understand.
Ron Paul and Gary Johnson (especially Governor Johnson) in my opinion offer the only viable solutions to the problems that are plaguing our country. While Paul has gained minimal traction, Johnson is often not even mentioned in the conversation. Its mind boggling that a candidate with the record of Johnson is NOT EVEN in the conversation. Jobs – best. Controlling spending – best. Why is he ignored?
Because of that damn question.
Is there a solution? Honestly, I’m not qualified to answer. My thoughts tend to lean toward “practicality vs. principality.” Or to package it in 30 seconds or less, just to say “It is absolutely time that we as a country review the policy of drug prohibition honestly and fairly. We have to evaluate the monies spent, the successes and the failures equally, and evaluate the incredible level of violence surrounding prohibition.”
If libertarian views continue to be boxed in as “pro-dope” without any opportunity to explain (if not educate) the principle, libertarians will continue to struggle at the polls. The challenge that lies ahead is simple – education on the subject without “slamming it down” anyone’s throat.
If anything, the level minded among us have to come up with a viable plan. One that allows for sensible decisions to be made by a majority at the polls.