From last Friday’s Real Time on HBO:
Here we go again. This time it looks like Syria is up for some good ole U.S. military intervention. Hopefully it won’t come to pass. Maybe if enough people listen to Anti-Flag’s song “Power to the Peaceful” from their 2003 release The Terror State we could avoid these military disasters. Probably just wishful thinking. Enjoy:
Sons and daughters of a dream
The urge to struggle for an ideal
To stay and fight
Oppose war fever
Refuse to kill or be killed
There’s voices calling in the wind
Power to the Peaceful
Power to the peaceful
With a readiness for war
They come down hard in dissent of all forms
Blood and militarism has swept the country by storm
This is not a war of the urging people
This is not a war of economic independence
It’s a war for conquest
It’s a war for military power
It’s a war for money
The road to universal slaughter
Alright, check this out
There’s repression and intolerance
On any deviation from the norm
In all factions of your life
At this time of entry into war say Hey!
Do you know what they sing. Say Hey!
Yeah you know what they sing. Say Hey!
Do you know what they sing? Say Hey!
- Russ Roberts on Econ 101 and the Minimum Wage
- Thank Goodness Kids Do Belong To Their Parents
- Mike Riggs says Rand Paul is no Libertarian on Drug Policy
- Three key lessons from the Obama administration’s drone lies
- Will Wilkinson on mass shootings and public policy: What about the children?
- This week at Thoughts on Liberty: Give Casual Sex a Chance and The Newest Form of Slut Shaming: Skank Flank
- Kevin Carson on Margaret Thatcher and the Degradation of “Freedom” in Right-Wing Discourse
- 5 Reasons Why Low Skilled Immigrants are Good for the Economy
- Steve Horwitz asks Can Government Create Jobs? in the latest LearnLiberty video:
Image via Calvin and Hobbes
Antiwar.com’s John Glaser says it all:
Saturday morning in Huntersville, North Carolina, libertarian voters gathered for a “Liberty 5K Fun Run” fundraiser. Then during a packed lunch fundraiser at Fox and Hound in uptown Charlotte, Libertarian Party presidential candidate, Gary Johnson didn’t hesitate to distinguish himself from President Obama and Gov. Romney in an energetic campaign speech. North Carolina’s Libertarian Party gubernatorial candidate, Barbara Howe was present throughout the day’s events.
Speaking to the attentive crowd, Johnson asserted that he will be the only candidate on the ballot that wants to end the wars and bring the troops home, reduce the US military footprint around the globe, employ a noninterventionist foreign policy, eliminate foreign aid, slash federal spending– including the big three: Medicare, Medicaid, and military/defense– and balance the federal budget in year one (entailing a $1.4T or 43% reduction), veto legislation when expenses exceed revenue, repeal the PATRIOT Act and NDAA, abolish the Department of Homeland Security, TSA, and the federal Department of Education, fight for marriage equality, and end the decades-long War on Drugs. Gov. Johnson’s economic plan should also appeal to Ron Paul supporters:
“I’m also the only candidate that’s advocating abolishing the IRS, the income tax and the corporate tax. I am advocating on the part of the Fair Tax […], which I think reboots the American economy. When it comes to American jobs, if the private sector doesn’t create tens of millions of jobs with a zero corporate tax rate environment, I don’t know what it’s going to take to create tens of millions of jobs in this country. I think manufacturing jobs will flock back to the United States. There is nothing in my resume to suggest that I am not going to doggedly pursue this agenda and that it won’t make a huge difference. If I’m in the national debates against Obama and Romney I think anything is possible.”
A resounding ovation followed his remarks, and the enthusiastic crowd proceeded to nearby Midtown Park for Gov. Johnson’s speech at the Conservatives Against Unconstitutional Wars rally. Complete with Goldwater-style conservative Republicans, libertarian Ron Paul supporters, and general antiwar protesters, Gov. Johnson delivered a passionate speech to a crowd of about two hundred. Johnson was visibly fired up with indignation at what he characterizes as politicians’ perpetual, cavalier practice of placing service men and women in harm’s way with little consideration of the unintended consequences:
Ron Paul supporters in attendance were very vocal of their support and determination to ensure Gov. Johnson gets a podium in the national debates. They also pledged their votes to him. “The message of liberty must carry on and be heard,” said one attendee, “Ron Paul supporters need to start contacting polling organizations now. Don’t wait until after Tampa. It only takes a few minutes, and I think we’re smart enough to multitask support for both Gary and Dr. Paul. But after Tampa we need to stay active and focus all of our efforts on supporting Gary Johnson.”
Johnson was quick to credit Paul’s accomplishments and underscore his own support of the Texas congressman:
“Ron Paul has made a huge contribution, bigger than anyone else regarding the liberty movement. I’ve seen Ron Paul supporters throughout the entire three years I’ve been doing this, and [today] isn’t something new. It’s been, ‘Hey if it’s not Ron Paul it will to be you,’ and that’s always been terrific. And I’d just like to reiterate that Ron Paul asked me for my endorsement in 2008 and I readily gave it. When I dropped out of the Republican primary I asked everyone that was going to vote for me to vote for him.”
Following the rally, the Raintree Country Club hosted a cocktail hour and dinner fundraiser. Once again Gov. Johnson delivered his message to a full room of inspired, excited supporters and left feeling energized and encouraged:
“The events here in Charlotte were just terrific. We raised a lot of money and there were a whole lot of people here with a whole lot of enthusiasm. I just think this is a portend for what is going to happen going forward. I’m not the third choice. I’m the only choice.”
Image via Gary Johnson 2012
Gov. Johnson’s latest campaign ad:
Unbeknownst to most Tennesseans, there is a liberty candidate in the race against Bob Corker for U.S. Senate: Dr. Shaun Crowell. Born in Union City, Dr. Crowell is a veterinarian and small business owner whose Spring Hill animal hospital grows each year despite a sluggish economy. A born-again Christian and self-described Constitutional Conservative, Dr. Crowell earned the Libertarian Party of Tennessee’s endorsement at their state convention in January.
Voters fed up with the broken two party system and its disingenuous stranglehold over the national political discourse have a unique opportunity to send a hard-working, middle class business owner with libertarian ideas to represent them in the Senate – advocating policies of fiscal conservatism, individual liberty, peace, and love.
Dr. Crowell aims to get the nation’s finances back on track and restore a sound monetary system by ending the perpetual cycle of printing soft money and runaway deficit spending. He intends to repeal federal departments such as Education, Energy, Commerce, and Interior, while streamlining the remaining departments and agencies.
Moreover, he intends to lead the charge to repeal dangerous erosions of our civil liberties like the PATRIOT Act, NDAA, and TSA and extricate ourselves from the military conflicts we currently find ourselves in. Ben Franklin once said those that sacrifice liberty for safety deserve neither, and Dr. Crowell whole-heartedly agrees.
If voting for the lesser of two evils essentially yields the same result time after time, why not try something different for a change? Why not try liberty? Try Dr. Shaun Crowell.
Craig D. Schlesinger
Image via ShaunCrowell.com
During a segment on CNN last week, Wolf Blitzer told the audience that a new warning from the Pentagon was saying that “Iran’s missiles are getting more accurate, apparently getting more deadly as well.” Wolfie then threw it to CNN’s Pentagon correspondent Chris Lawrence, who “reported” the following:
Well, Wolf, Iran’s missiles are getting more accurate, but they may not have to be because they are also getting more deadly. By that I mean they’re developing a new payload system that spreads out the destruction over a wider area than a solid warhead. And you’ve got to remember how many U.S. bases and U.S. ships are in that region.
The Pentagon report says Iran is developing short-range missiles that can identify ships at sea and maneuver towards them in mid-flight. And Iran already has a missile that could reach the U.S. if it could put it on a ship and move it to within 600 miles of the American coastline.
I’d like to repeat that: “Iran already has a missile that could reach the U.S.”!!!! (“if it could it put on a ship and move it to within 600 miles of the American coastline”). As As’ad AbuKhalil observed about these frightening Iranian missiles: ”They can also reach the moon if they can put it on a rocket and get closer to the moon.” Indeed, I’m excited to announce that I’m writing today from within walking distance to the peak of Mount Everest! (if someone transports me and my laptop by jet and then helicopter to within 500 yards or so of the top of that mountain).
Lawrence also touted what he called “a new report from the Pentagon” (which must not be questioned, only uncritically described with his TV-reporter’s gravely worried face plastered on) that “confirms” that “Iran may be technically capable of flight-testing an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015.” Far from being “new,” that’s a Pentagon claim Fox News was hyping more than two years ago (“Iranian Missile May Be Able to Hit U.S. by 2015″). Note how, to a CNN Pentagon reporter, the mere assertion by the Pentagon of a claim amounts to “confirmation” of its truth (LAWRENCE: “Iran’s recent missile test showed off their capabilities. And a new report from the Pentagon confirms it. Iran’s ballistic missiles are more accurate, more versatile and more deadly than ever. The report finds that ‘Iran may be technically capable of flight-testing an intercontinental ballistic missile by 2015′– the type of missile that could hit the U.S. if it works”).
There’s a perennial debate about whether the propagandistic tripe produced by establishment media outlets is shaped more by evil or by stupidity. Personally, I think it’s both: a healthy dose of each is needed. The system design is malicious, while those who serve as its public face are generally vacant. In the case of CNN, one can think of it as the Time-Warner/Wolf-Blitzer dichotomy.
A couple of years ago, I was on MSNBC debating The Iranian Threat with Arianna Huffington…. Virtually the entire time I was speaking, scary video imagery was being shown of Iran testing a mid-range missile at sea, and near the end of the debate, The Washington Post‘s Jonathan Capehart popped in to demand that I try to reconcile what he obviously believed was the glaring contradiction between (a) my claim that Iran was not the aggressor in the region and (b) Iran’s testing of a missile.
That the U.S., Israel and their allies routinely test long-range inter-continental ballistic missiles and (in the case of the U.S.) have done so for decades while building a huge stockpile of them never enters the mind of Capehart and his establishment media colleagues. He genuinely believes that Iran’s testing of a mid-range missile definitively proves their malicious aggression, but the same cannot be said of those on his side who engage in far more extensive military development. That’s the unspoken, vapid precept driving most American media discourse; indeed, enthusiastically embracing this form of jingoistic reasoning is more or less a prime requirement for the job.
With “reporters” and “journalists” like these, it is no wonder nobody watches CNN.
Image via The Guardian
Dr. Shaun Crowell is a veterinarian and small business owner from Union City, TN whose animal hospital in the little town of Spring Hill, TN has grown every year despite the recession. He’s also the Libertarian Party’s 2012 nominee for US Senate representing Tennessee, and will be up against incumbent Bob Corker (R-TN) in November. He says that his interest in politics began as a result of the 2007 – 2008 financial crisis, and now he’s hoping Tennessee voters will send a hard-working, middle-class business owner with libertarian ideas to represent them in the Senate.
I recently had a chance to sit down with Dr. Crowell in person and interview him on the many public policy issues facing this country. After spending hours transcribing the interview, the quotes below are highlights of Dr. Crowell’s positions on an issue by issue basis in his own words:
“It’s been a journey. It really started with just researching U.S. history and politics and going deep into that. Ron Paul was certainly instrumental in bringing that about. His political persuasions were so different than what I’ve heard, historically, coming from the Republican establishment that in 2008 I took notice of it even more.”
“I really think we should pay off all our debts and not go into debt.”
“We have to balance the budget. Senator Corker wants to institute a Cap Act. The Cap Act says over the next ten years, we’re going to cap spending at about $3.6 trillion. Then Paul Ryan comes up and says we can do better than that, we can do a five-year freeze and spend $3.5 trillion vs. the $3.6 because we really love the American people. Obama wants to spend $3.8 trillion, we want to spend $3.5 – we’re going to save everyone $300 billion. I love Ron Paul’s plan. He says if you make $2.5 trillion, you need to spend $2.5 trillion or less. His plan is perfect… we need to scrap the Department of Energy, Education, Interior, Commerce, (etc.). Even the departments we keep need to be streamlined.”
Finance and Monetary Policy:
“Dodd-Frank is, I believe, about 2,000 pages long. Our Constitution, which has framed our government for 236 years, was just a few pages long, why in the world do we need to create a bill any longer than that? A friend of mine in banking spends half his day trying to comply with Dodd-Frank, and it’s a mess. So for these small time bankers, they spend a lot of money and a lot time complying with this federal law, whereas the big banks that have a lot of money and resources, well they hire their staff to navigate through and it never affects them. It doesn’t affect them financially. They can navigate around Dodd-Frank very easily, whereas the small banks are always kept [at bay]. Its bad for banking; its bad policy for the United States.”
“I did see a 60 Minutes [piece] about the 2008 bailouts and all the Wall Street fraud that was going on and how come Sarbanes-Oxley, which [supposedly gives] teeth to the Department of Justice to go in and start arresting these guys, how come the DOJ has not launched an effective investigation and prosecuted one person since 2008. And that’s a great question.”
“With healthcare, education– the inflation that’s happening at those levels is so much larger than normal inflation that it’s pretty obvious. What’s the difference? The big difference is the government is right in the middle of those two sectors. They’re guaranteeing the banks, so the banker doesn’t have any risk. When the bankers have no risk, like in the subprime mortgage debacle, there’s no [incentive]. They had Fannie, Freddie, and the Federal Reserve pumping the money. There’s no risk on the banks. It is artificially inflating tuition prices, housing prices, and creating an economic disaster.”
“I want to personally streamline the Department of Agriculture. In our food supply we have a lot of poison and genetically modified components. Not a lot of people know there are big companies like Monsanto that have pushed heavy and lobbied our Congress, and our President even, for genetically modified foods.”
“[One thing I’m concerned] with right now is federally guaranteed student loans. It is the next big bubble that we’re going to see in our economy, and we have to fight it. And I look at it from a very practical standpoint. If I’m a banker and you come to me as a prospective student wanting to go to college, you want to borrow money. As a banker, having the federal government back you, there’s no risk. So you automatically say ‘absolutely, how much do you need, we’ll get it to you.’ The problem is demand has gone up amongst all the universities and colleges. So there’s more students, more money, and the natural transition is those college presidents and trustees raise tuition immediately because demand is going up.”
“Repeal the Patriot ACT and NDAA – specifically section 10.21 and 10.22 about the belligerent acts committed by US citizens being detained by the armed forces.”
“Bob Corker didn’t have a chance to vote on the Patriot Act, but probably would have voted for it. Honestly, I was a George Bush supporter when he first came into office, and when 9/11 happened I thought ‘maybe we need to protect ourselves.’ But looking back at U.S. history, Ben Franklin said if we give up freedom for security, we deserve neither security nor freedom – and I love that quote from the 1700s. Its amazing that these guys, back then, realized the tyranny of government and the level to which government can take something that seemingly looks good in the beginning and turn it against the people under the wrong leadership.”
“Never should we sacrifice our Constitution. If we don’t conduct ourselves like a republican form of government and share that with the people of the world and do it the right way, then what are we doing? What are we? We can’t torture.”
War on Drugs and Prison Policy:
“If you can transition into [legalization], like with the medical marijuana thing, if you can transition people’s thought processes in that direction and allow them to understand that this isn’t going to be detrimental to people driving down the road in Tennessee. What’s going to happen is they’ll understand that, but it’s going to take time though. It’s a thought process that will take time.”
“Do I want the violence on the border to go away right away? Absolutely, and I do think if you legalize marijuana – this war against drugs, the only thing it’s done is pick winners and losers in the drug lord trade. You’ve got super wealthy drug lords now, and then you’ve got the small guys being destroyed and shot with guns created in the United States and sold to them by the ATF and Eric Holder.”
“The prisons are full of people that have been put in there for marijuana possession– its crazy. This is the silliness of our society. We’re spending billions a year to keep people in jail because they smoke marijuana when we have alcoholics driving down the road.”
“I truly believe the War on Drugs is a purposeful attack on class. It seems to me that the drug war has worked against people who are poor, whether they are white, black, or otherwise. Putting a police state out there that is, really, harshly against the poor, they’re naturally going to be arrested more [frequently].”
“In 2008 I started questioning every war and all of the things that are tanking our economy and putting us in terrible debt. Iraq– to me there wasn’t any reason why we should have been in Iraq.”
“If we’re going to go to war with a country, let’s have an act of Congress first! Let’s muster everything we’ve got, send it in, get it done, and get it out. We’re not in the nation building business.”
“We’ve been in Afghanistan for eleven years now, and so far there’s no end in sight. They’re talking about it, but they’ve talked about it for years. Afghanistan is today’s Vietnam. It is killing our soldiers, its sucking money, and it continues to be a detriment to American society.”
“The CIA has a term for when our soldiers are going into people’s houses and putting young kids’ fathers on the ground with guns to their heads– its called blowback. Those kids are going to grow up. I don’t care if the United States gave them candy later on. They are going to come back, and they are going to be angry. We’re creating terrorism. That’s the problem. We are over there with our military when we have no business being over there with our military.”
“Sanctions don’t work. They hurt the people, even if their leadership is corrupt. If you’re going to try and send a message to a government, do it through example and through love. Wars probably have to be fought at times. When Saddam Hussein went into Kuwait, it was a joint effort, and I was alright with that– the rest of the wars, not so much.”
“All of us were immigrants at one point. There’s no way we should be prejudiced against immigrants, which is what I see happening in our country– a lot of prejudice. On the flip side, we have to get a hold of what’s going on. Illegal immigrants are burdening the healthcare and education systems.”
“What I would like to see are the best people from every country coming to work here. The United States has the smartest, most industrious, most productive people in the world wanting to come here and be a part of our society. That’s what I want to see.”
“Politically [marriage laws] should go to the states, and let the states make their individual choices. So if one state chooses to allow gay marriage and the other state chooses to have a more traditional marriage, the beauty of that is if people in one state don’t like [the law], there are other states people can move to.”
“United we stand, divided we fall. But the media says Democrat-Republican, left-right, liberal-conservative, Occupy-Tea Party. The reality of the situation with any of those groups is, we’re all frustrated with government and corporate greed, which is the root of both occupy and the Tea Party. It just so happens that the Occupy movement tends to be more young people– college students– and the Tea Party is more moms and dads. So the Occupy movement is college students that have moms and dads, and the Tea Party movement is moms and dads who have college students. They’re one in the same.”
“My message is really to Democrats, to Republicans, I think I can draw them all into the libertarian movement. The libertarian movement is about what our Founding Fathers stood on. That’s really the message: it’s about liberty. The libertarian movement is not about being liberal. It’s not about being conservative. It’s about liberty. And those two terms [liberal and conservative] have been thrown around and misused so much that we have completely false definitions of them. It’s just about liberty, freedom, republican form of government, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights.”
“Everybody says, especially the Republican establishment in this state, ‘I’m going to vote for the lesser of two evils.’ My question to everybody is why are you voting for evil?”
Image via ShaunCrowell.com
As Americans celebrate Independence Day I often think about the hardships that those who fought underwent. They all essentially committed treason to the British crown to stand up and fight for our God-given rights. They valued Freedom above any benefit they received from the British government. To them, Freedom was worth more than roads, schools, and security. It was the Freedom to choose how to live their life, raise their children, how to spend all their money, and how, or whom, to worship.
My mind then turns to our current circumstances. How many among us would once again stand up and fight for our rights? We have a government that has taken over many of the most basic functions of our lives. We are told what we can and cannot ingest. We are told whom we can and cannot love. We are told what our children are to learn. We are told how much of our hard-earned money we can keep. Sirs, this is not the America I want my child to grow up in.
I am writing you today in hopes that you too will think about what Freedom really means. It doesn’t mean the government is free to declare anything it wishes to be illegal and then prosecute those who violate their arbitrary laws. On the contrary, Freedom only exists when citizens are free to operate without legislators’ intervention.
To that end I would like to request the following:
- Get the government completely out of our wallets
- Get the government completely out of our bedrooms
- Keep the government from deciding what we can and cannot ingest
- Get the government out of the healthcare industry
- Defend the sovereignty of the great state of Tennessee against the Federal government
- Repeal minimum wage laws
- Pass legislation to allow Tennesseans to “opt out” of Social Security
- Reduce the size, scope, and power of the government and allow the free market to find better, and more efficient, solutions to our current problems.
Keep in mind I’m only asking you to sponsor and promote legislation. The founders of this country were asked to sacrifice their lives and livelihoods.
Although we have much to celebrate, each Independence Day seems more and more like an ironic celebration, given the bleak, yet accurate scenario laid out by Polk. We can only hope our public servants take heed of his words.
Image via LP-TN
The Cato Institute’s foreign policy analyst Malou Inncoent has a great new piece on Egypt over at The Skeptics Blog:
In 2008, a top U.S. diplomat reported that when U.S. officials talked to leaders of Egypt’s Ministry of Defense about border security, counter terrorism, civil defense, and peace-keeping, these efforts were met with limited success, and Egypt strongly resisted—and only later supported—millions in U.S. foreign military funding for a counter-smuggling system on the Gaza-Egyptian border. Furthermore, in 2007, the director of the Israel Security Agency reported to U.S. diplomats that Egyptians seal up tunnels under the Rafah border crossing but have done nothing to shut down extensive smuggling operations that bring explosives from Sudan, and perhaps Yemen and Libya, and that Egypt could have acted to cut off much of the smuggling, but did not.
U.S. aid continues to flow even as Egypt’s illiberal democracy backslides. Indeed, U.S. aid continues to support a brutal regime that maintains its authority through the denial of free speech, arbitrary imprisonment, savage repression, and routine torture.
[R]ecent news reporting has focused on Egypt’s new president, Muhammad Morsi. Morsi has claimed that Egypt will adhere to its international commitments, but U.S. officials may want to take that pledge with a grain of salt. Aspects of the U.S.-brokered Camp David Peace Agreement, such as Egypt’s sale of natural gas to Israel below the global market rate, will certainly be up for review. Moreover, even though Morsi professes freedom for all Egyptians, including women and Coptic Christians, the Muslim Brotherhood of which Morsi’s a part has a history of going back on its promises. Last year, it claimed it would not run a candidate for president. It has argued for free market policies even as Morsi invokes the need for minimum and maximum wages.
Let us hope that the situation in Egypt progresses, but the liklihood of significant liberal economic and political reforms does not look good.
Image via Google Images
Glenn Greenwald has a great piece up about the U.S. relationship with Saudi Arabia. The entire column is well worth reading:
Of all the self-flattering delusions permeating American political discourse, I think the most obviously false one is that the U.S. is sternly opposed to repressive regimes and seeks to defend the human rights and democratic freedoms of citizens of that region and the world. If one wants to defend the close U.S.-Saudi alliance on grounds of material self-interest — they have lots of oil and the alternative to the current heinous regime would be sympathetic to Al Qaeda (even more so than the current one) — one can rationally do so.
But it never ceases to amaze that every time there is some new American Enemy to rail against or attack — in Iraq, in Iran, in Syria, in Libya — and defenders of American militarism claim to be motivated by opposition to human rights abuses and repression of freedom, there are hordes of people willing to believe that these noble, magnanimous considerations actually drive U.S. policy. What else would the U.S. have to do to prove this is false? The people in the region — whom the American media loves to patronizingly scorn as propagandized — have no trouble watching the close U.S-Saudi alliance or Hillary Clinton’s close family friendship with the Mubaraks and seeing the emptiness of American rhetoric about freedom and democracy. Perhaps it isn’t they who are the ones drowning in propaganda.
Image via Google Images
To understand why the War on Drugs persists, one has to journey deep inside the prohibitionist mind. During a discussion about marijuana on CNN, talking head LZ Granderson hoped he wasn’t going to have to discuss the issue much in the context of the 2012 election, saying “We have way too many important things to talk about.”
When the host of the segment wondered whether some people would fail to support President Obama based solely on the issue of marijuana, Granderson called those voters idiots, saying, “If you are voting on one single issue, especially one issue that is so peripheral, you are an idiot, I don’t want to mince words here.” He continued, “If you’re basing your vote on who’s going to be president about whether or not they let you roll up a blunt then you’re just an idiot and I hope you don’t have the right to vote anyway.”
To call it a ‘peripheral’ issue makes a mockery of the millions of Americans who’ve had their lives turned upside down by a marijuana arrest. It’s an insult to innocent victims of rampant racial profiling brought on biased and brutal drug enforcement practices. It dishonors the memory of the tens of thousands who’ve lost their lives at the hands of violent cartels to whom we’ve handed a huge stake in the lucrative American marijuana trade.
On a daily basis, the war on marijuana destroys families, ends lives, destabilizes communities and diverts limited resources away from the people who need them and into an endless cycle of drug war devastation. Either that, or it prevents all these horrible things, as its defenders continue to claim. In either case, the question of how we as a society choose to deal with marijuana is more than just a serious issue, it’s a matter of life and death. Of course it is. There’s no such thing as a multi-billion dollar question that isn’t worth asking.
As Morgan notes in his piece, public opinion for both medical marijuana and full legalization is robust– especially among independent voters, the pivotal voting block. In fact, support amongst independent voters actually exceeds that of the general population. Polling shows 57% of independent voters support legalizing marijuana, while 79% believe that the federal government should respect state medical marijuana laws. Those politicians wishing to emerge victorious this fall must win over the support of independent voters– and based on the numbers above, legalizing marijuana seems like a pretty good place to start.
There’s also another flaw in this kind of condescending reasoning typically used to marginalize those pushing drug policy reform. Deciding how to vote based on the issues of marijuana legalization and drug policy reform, contra Granderson’s contention, is not simply focusing on a single issue. Rather, marijuana legalization and the broader drug war is inextricably linked with a basket of other issues: criminal justice and mass incarceration, cartel violence, SWAT raids and militarized police, whittling away of the Fourth Amendment and civil liberties, racism,foreign policy, public health, economics, and state budgets. The uncomfortable truth is that drug policy bleeds into all other aspects of American politics, whether people like Granderson want to acknowledge it or not.
Image via Freedom’s Phoenix
This weekend, former two-term Governor of New Mexico and Libertarian presidential candidate, Gary Johnson appeared on MSNBC’s Weekends with Alex Witt. Kicking off the segment with Johnson’s latest web ad, Ms. Witt described it as “Orwellian” and asked if Johnson was serious or just playing politics.
Gov. Johnson’s ad assaults the Democrats and Republicans for keeping us in a state of perpetual war and unsustainable debt, eliminating the Bill of Rights, and systematically “dismantling the freedoms granted to us under our Constitution,” noting “we the people will never agree on the small things,” but Johnson wants agreement on the big thing: “Our leaders have blown it.”
Johnson counters the elitist political duopoly with peace and prosperity, asking voters to “be libertarian with me” – putting aside partisan differences for one election. Essentially, Johnson’s tongue-in-cheek plea is for voters to give him the reigns once, and if after four years the people are not satisfied with “peace, prosperity, and freedom, we can always vote tyranny back into office again.”
With endless media focus on the shortcomings of both Obama and Romney, the candidate GQ called the sanest man running for president is looking pretty good by comparison. Gov. Johnson is the only candidate pledging to stop the runaway spending, submit a balanced budget in year one, declare peace and bring the troops home now, restore our economy and industrial might, and focus on the best methods to rebuild our own nation rather than other nations “half a world away.”
Johnson concludes with: “America is better and brighter than this. Be libertarian with me thisone time, and I’ll prove it to you.” Judging by his gubernatorial record, there is no reason to doubt him. As the ad winds down, thunder and lightning envelop the capital. As the lightning strikes, a short, edgy phrase appears for a split second with references to both the American Revolution and George Orwell: “1776 KICKS 1984’s ASS”
If that message resonates with independent voters, Gov. Johnson is offering plenty of incentives to garner their support. The ACLU Liberty Watch Candidate Report Card lists Gov. Johnson as their civil liberties valedictorian. National Review Online anointed him “best job creator” among all presidential candidates, and Johnson has earned endorsements from renowned economists like Jeff Miron and Lynne Kiesling. Prominent constitutional and legal scholars Ilya Somin and Sasha Volokh of the popular legal blog The Volokh Conspiracy also offered their endorsements to Johnson. Even former Gov. Jesse Ventura (I-MN) and comedian/magician Penn Jillette recently hopped on the endorsement wagon.
Of course, Witt was quick to point out that Gov. Johnson’s platform is rather “idealistic,” to which Johnson smiled and replied:
“I got to serve eight years as Governor of New Mexico talking about these same kinds of issues in a state that was 2-1 Democrat. [PPP] did a poll [last June], and I was the only presidential candidate that’s viewed favorably in his or her home state. Ideologically, yes, how does that really affect citizens? Well, citizens of New Mexico put that to the test, and I ended up getting reelected by a bigger margin the second time than the first time in a state that’s 2-1 Democrat; making a name for myself by being a good steward of tax dollars.”
Facts are facts, and Witt instantly agreed, “Well there is no doubt you are a very, very popular Governor there.” In the wake of his debate performance last September in Orlando, Johnson proved just how popular his “politics be damned” approach really is. In the twenty-four hours following that debate, Gov. Johnson was the most Googled name on the planet – a strong indication that Johnson’s message resonates with your average “Joe debate watcher.”
Whether or not he’s their first pick for president, independent voters need to organize and mobilize to ensure that Johnson is included in relevant polls that qualify candidates’ admittance into presidential debates. It’s an important way for independents to keep sticking it to the two party system and gaining access for third party and independent candidates.
Zogby and PPP are already on board, but other polling organizations such as Gallup and Rasmussen may need convincing. Independents can further help facilitate Johnson’s efforts to reach the 15% benchmark in national polls (with the first debate set for October 3rd) by spreading an independent message of liberty, peace, and prosperity to friends, family, and colleagues. If Gov. Johnson is allowed on stage to debate with Gov. Romney and President Obama, it will show the American people that good ideas and working solutions can come from outside the two party system after all.