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January 25, 2012 5:45 AM   Subscribe

President Obama’s YouTube Forum deems marijuana legalization questions “inappropriate”
posted by rodmandirect (198 comments total) 10 users marked this as a favorite

 
I loves me some Obama, but that's straight up censorship of petitions to the government.
posted by jaduncan at 5:50 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


This is why you can't have nice things marijuana.
posted by unSane at 5:54 AM on January 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


And this directly answers the question raised in a recent MeTa thread about why people like rules so much (not to mention addressing my theoretical terror at MeFi's "we decide these things on a case-by-case basis" philosophy): If you don't have a rule of law, then legitimate questions can be shoved under the carpet as "inappropriate". There has to be a due process.
posted by DU at 5:55 AM on January 25, 2012 [14 favorites]


Maybe if he gets re-elected he'll tell the DEA to cool their jets and take positive steps towards decriminalization? Obama has intimated before that our drug policy is broken, but I suppose he is either too timid or too preoccupied to bother with it. I'm not a potsmoker and don't really have anything to do with potheads, but this refusal to reevaluate the nation's brutal stance against marijuana is maddening.
posted by Burhanistan at 6:05 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe if he gets re-elected he'll tell the DEA to cool their jets and take positive steps towards decriminalization?

And after his second term when he still hasn't done it, maybe if we change the Constitution and elect him to a third term, then he'll promote progressive policy! We just have to vote for him one more time...
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 6:08 AM on January 25, 2012 [68 favorites]


With all due respect, go fuck yourself Mr. President.

a guy who smoked weed (and snorted coke) back in the day as a teenager in Hawaii and was damn lucky he didn’t get caught or today he’d be Barry the Drug Criminal.

Yup, and you bet that if he ever catches his own kids using drugs he isn't calling the police.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 6:13 AM on January 25, 2012 [38 favorites]


I loves me some Obama, but that's straight up censorship of petitions to the government.

It's probably not censorship if Google is doing it on his behalf.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 6:14 AM on January 25, 2012


Censorship is an immoral act even if done by a non-governmental agency.
posted by DU at 6:15 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Inappropriate?

This is a policy issue. They're making it sound like they're asking for anal sex tips.
posted by BigSky at 6:16 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Why are many Democrats so limp on legalization? They act like they've come fresh off watching "Reefer Madness" rather than seeing it as a waste of money and time along with it being a individual liberty issue.
posted by pashdown at 6:16 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


A Call to Courage: Reclaiming Our Liberties Ten Years After 9/11

ACLU ranks Obama lower than Ron Paul on civil liberties

In short, the ACLU finds that Obama has been a disaster for civil liberties, which pisses us off because we imagined electing an 'expert in constitutional law' would regain civil liberties.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:19 AM on January 25, 2012 [34 favorites]


There must be some pretty powerful political forces in DC propping up our drug policy. The drug war is costing us billions of dollars, and the disparity of law enforcement across the US/Mexico border is killing tens of thousands of Mexicans and Americans every year. Since their stated goal is to keep drug prices high and suppress any moves towards harm reduction, despite public support for limited legalization and a wide rejection of our current drug policy, I wonder where we land if we ask that age old question: cui bono?
posted by deanklear at 6:20 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


This is a policy issue. They're making it sound like they're asking for anal sex tips.

To be fair, there are some people that love making anal sex into a public policy issue.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 6:21 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


the current drug laws are job security for law enforcement and for-profit prisons.
posted by The Whelk at 6:22 AM on January 25, 2012 [19 favorites]


ACLU ranks Obama lower than Ron Paul on civil liberties

I must have fallen asleep and missed the Ron Paul presidency.
posted by empath at 6:23 AM on January 25, 2012 [25 favorites]


the current drug laws are job security for law enforcement and for-profit prisons.

Well then, maybe we can legalize marijuana and give these guys a government bailout?
posted by Obscure Reference at 6:24 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I hope you're right, The Whelk. It would be nice (though also horrifying in its own way) if lobbyists were outgunning spooks for power inside the beltline.
posted by deanklear at 6:25 AM on January 25, 2012


Why are many Democrats so limp on legalization?

Republicans would eat the Democrats' lunch on the West Coast if they could find a candidate like Ron Paul without the crazy and racism.
posted by empath at 6:25 AM on January 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


The illegality of marijuana is nothing more than a petty inconvenience to the powerful people whom the laws accommodate. They simply do not care.
posted by bukvich at 6:28 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's probably not censorship if Google is doing it on his behalf.

It looks awfully like it if they have been instructed to do so in a venue dealing with questions to the President at the President's request. Then they'd just be a third party censorship contractor.
posted by jaduncan at 6:30 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


so, a question about an illegal (though popular) activity was deemed 'inappropriate', by an official moderated forum of discussion? this is my surprised face -_-.
posted by ninjew at 6:31 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This feels like a re-hash of a previous post.
posted by Glomar response at 6:32 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


There are always powerful forces propping up any discretionary spending policy that costs hundreds of billions of dollars, deanklear. You'll almost never get about a few tens of billions without serious graft and corruption, professional lobbyists don't like amateur competition.

Ron Paul has a fairly long voting record, empath, mostly just saying "no" of course, which produces positive marks if your evaluating bad stuff the government does.

I donno if Ron Paul would roll back all our abuses of civil liberties if he were president. There is about no chance he could beat Obama anyways so it doesn't much matter. Yet, if the Republicans nominated him, then our presidential debates would turn heavily on drug policy and civil liberties where he'd frankly obliterate Obama, perhaps dragging Obama back towards sanity.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:33 AM on January 25, 2012 [8 favorites]


so, a question about an illegal (though popular) activity was deemed 'inappropriate', by an official moderated forum of discussion? this is my surprised face -_-.

Half the fucking country supports marijuana legalization, yet as an issue it's completely dead in the water because the American aristocracy- the moneyed, powerful political class- doesn't care about it and views it as trivial, childish, and inappropriate. It is something that has half the country in favor of it, yet the only way to be a credible person is to take the other, increasingly unpopular, side.

I'm struggling to find an easier, more simple way to say "this state of affairs is a perfect example of the total lack of credibility of the American government", and failing.
posted by Pope Guilty at 6:36 AM on January 25, 2012 [58 favorites]


deanklear: "I hope you're right, The Whelk. It would be nice (though also horrifying in its own way) if lobbyists were outgunning spooks for power inside the beltline."

For-Profit prisons IS a lobby. They get their own trade shows and everything. Not joking.
posted by symbioid at 6:41 AM on January 25, 2012 [11 favorites]


the moneyed, powerful political class- doesn't care about it and views it as trivial, childish, and inappropriate.

I don't think that's true at all. Rich people have access to, and use, illegal drugs. The difference is that they don't get punished harshly for using them, so they have no reason to fight for the people who DO get harshly punished.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 6:42 AM on January 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


Philosopher Dirtbike: "This is a policy issue. They're making it sound like they're asking for anal sex tips.

To be fair, there are some people that love making anal sex into a public policy issue.
"

OOh ooh. Santorum, right?
posted by symbioid at 6:43 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I wonder where we land if we ask that age old question: cui bono?

Do we really have to get him involved in this?
posted by StickyCarpet at 6:44 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I must have fallen asleep and missed the Ron Paul presidency.

It was great. Jingoism, blimps, it was like living inside Watchmen.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:44 AM on January 25, 2012 [23 favorites]


ACLU ranks Obama lower than Ron Paul on civil liberties

This is hardly a surprise. Nice to see Gary Johnson at the top, looking good.
posted by BigSky at 6:45 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This feels like a re-hash of a previous post

Think of it as frequent flyer miles (resin).
posted by Burhanistan at 6:48 AM on January 25, 2012


stating that this or any other government lacks credibility amongst its people isn't groundbreaking stuff.

i am pro-mariHuana, a subject i've been quite vocal about on these here blue pages, but I'm not at any time in any sort of future expecting or even desiring legalization. decriminalization, maybe.

although it would have been funny if Mr Obama announced a Marijuana Regulation Unit alongside his Tardy Enforcement Unit last night.
posted by ninjew at 6:48 AM on January 25, 2012


Ohh, this'll have some jowels aflapping over at reddit. Ron Paul would never get in the way of righteous toking.
posted by mattoxic at 6:53 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


BigSky: anal sex tips are always appropriate.
posted by eustacescrubb at 6:54 AM on January 25, 2012


>as an issue it's completely dead in the water because the American aristocracy- the moneyed, powerful political class- doesn't care about it and views it as trivial, childish, and inappropriate.

As fun as it is to blame the rich and asinine of America for this, there's no data to back that up. We've only now tipped above a 50/50 split in support of legalization, which means there are still plenty of Americans who still think Reefer Madness was a documentary.

Predictably, the ones doing the most to fuck it up for the rest of us aren't the monied elite, but elderly, conservative Republican Southerners. In other words, don't blame the cabal, blame the Moral "Majority."
posted by Panjandrum at 7:01 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Anal on weed. I'm sovereign like that.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 7:02 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This only further underlines the stupidity of marijuana laws. To even defend them in public is a risky, onerous chore.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:09 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Anyone who wants to be elected (or re-elected) president is going to duck this question in an election year.
posted by kirkaracha at 7:17 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I donno if Ron Paul would roll back all our abuses of civil liberties if he were president.

No, he'd just "let the states decide" on how to apply them. Which worked out so well in the past, especially in the South.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:19 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


Wearing my tinfoil hat for a moment, I think Big Pharma has a lot to fear from legal marijuana. They have a lot invested in selling you antidepressants and painkillers.
posted by Fleebnork at 7:20 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


I can't imagine that Big Pharma quakes in its boots over marijuana as an antidepressant. I think it's more that people are generally terrified of change. It would be good change, but it'd be massive change nonetheless. Making marijuana legal would either eliminate or seriously reform decent-sized chunks of the government.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:25 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


No, he'd just "let the states decide" on how to apply them. Which worked out so well in the past, especially in the South.

Exactly, it's idiotic to leave decisions on civil liberties like gay marriage to the states, how is that going to work out in the south?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:26 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, he'd just "let the states decide" on how to apply them.

Worse, since Ron Paul is a shameless hypocrite, he's been happy to put himself behind federal legislation against gay rights (DOMA) and reproductive rights (Sanctity of Life Act). He would not simply punt these issues down to the states. He would be all too happy to bar as much as possible on the federal level.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:28 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Which worked out so well in the past, especially in the South.

Let them be fucked up. As it is they're dragging all of you down.
posted by Meatbomb at 7:29 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Then they'd just be a third party censorship contractor.

If that's true, then Google corporate is just as much to blame as Obama. But, hey, things would be worse under a Republican president.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:30 AM on January 25, 2012


Exactly, it's idiotic to leave decisions on civil liberties like gay marriage to the states, how is that going to work out in the south?

I understand there was previously a war over that or something?
posted by jaduncan at 7:30 AM on January 25, 2012


If that's true, then Google corporate is just as much to blame as Obama. But, hey, things would be worse under a Republican president.

Well yes. Obviously.
posted by jaduncan at 7:30 AM on January 25, 2012


(To the former (although also to the latter)).
posted by jaduncan at 7:31 AM on January 25, 2012


Obviously.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:31 AM on January 25, 2012


Exactly, it's idiotic to leave decisions on civil liberties like gay marriage to the states, how is that going to work out in the south?

This isn't exactly either a stirring defense of Paul or a condemnation of Obama. After all, Obama refuses to support DOMA, Paul still does. Obama supports extension of partnership rights, Paul does not.
posted by zombieflanders at 7:35 AM on January 25, 2012


I mean, the President is now censoring your Internet, with the help of a private corporation. Things could be worse, though.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:36 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This isn't exactly either a stirring defense of Paul or a condemnation of Obama. After all, Obama refuses to support DOMA, Paul still does. Obama supports extension of partnership rights, Paul does not.

Why do you think it was a defense of Paul?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:39 AM on January 25, 2012


Let them be fucked up. As it is they're dragging all of you down.

Some of us are from there, you know. And the minority of liberals in the South, who love our homes, would kinda like to see them dragged kicking and screaming into the 21st century, rather than abandoned to theocracy.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:39 AM on January 25, 2012 [13 favorites]


As fun as it is to blame the rich and asinine of America for this, there's no data to back that up. We've only now tipped above a 50/50 split in support of legalization, which means there are still plenty of Americans who still think Reefer Madness was a documentary.

My point isn't "we can't have it now even though we have 50%". My point is that even though 50% of the nation are in favor, it's still an idea which is taken about as seriously by politicians as mandatory DMT in order to colonize the place beyond sleep and get free labor by enslaving the machine elves. It's not "we have 50%, therefore we should have it", it's "we've got 50% of the country on this side and yet this side isn't taken seriously in any way". Obama's position on weed legalization isn't to tell you that it's not time or that he doesn't have the support. It's that you're a child for wanting it and that it's inappropriate to bring it up. The politicians don't disagree with drug legalization- they don't consider and say no- they dismiss it, as though it were a childish tantrum.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:42 AM on January 25, 2012 [40 favorites]


Why do you think it was a defense of Paul?

Jeffburdges upthread was talking about the ACLU ranking Paul higher on civil liberties than Obama, which for all of Obama's serious problems is still a mixture of wrong and useless. Paul would be better in some respects, and worse in many others, but most importantly, Paul knows that he is a Representative whose identity centers around being Dr. No, whereas Obama actually has to work with other people, for better and for worse.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:49 AM on January 25, 2012


Obama's position on weed legalization isn't to tell you that it's not time or that he doesn't have the support. It's that you're a child for wanting it and that it's inappropriate to bring it up. The politicians don't disagree with drug legalization- they don't consider and say no- they dismiss it, as though it were a childish tantrum.

It's especially funny since this is projection of a high order. Marijuana criminalization is a thoroughly irrational policy, but we are apparently not allowed to point this out to his face. It's as if the government had changed the name of Sunday to Poop Your Pants Day, and every time the citizenry asked if we could please bring back the old name, they were told their question was inappropriate.

I of course understand that Obama would be sunk if he were to even entertain the idea of marijuana legalization. It's just bizarre that this issue is such a sticking point for some people - not so much for the stereotypical pot-smoking NORML members, but for those voters who would shriek like banshees if a b-b-b-b-black man wanted to legalize p-p-p-p-pot.
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:56 AM on January 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Right but I don't get why agreeing that his policy of leaving civil rights to the states is a bad idea is a defense?
posted by furiousxgeorge at 7:56 AM on January 25, 2012


Right but I don't get why agreeing that his policy of leaving civil rights to the states is a bad idea is a defense?

Start here.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:58 AM on January 25, 2012


Wait, shit, nevermind, I completely misread that.
posted by Pope Guilty at 7:58 AM on January 25, 2012


I mean, the President is now censoring your Internet, with the help of a private corporation. Things could be worse, though.

Man, Metafilter after Romney gets elected is going to be fun!
posted by the man of twists and turns at 7:59 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


My point isn't "we can't have it now even though we have 50%". My point is that even though 50% of the nation are in favor, it's still an idea which is taken about as seriously by politicians as mandatory DMT in order to colonize the place beyond sleep and get free labor by enslaving the machine elves. It's not "we have 50%, therefore we should have it", it's "we've got 50% of the country on this side and yet this side isn't taken seriously in any way". Obama's position on weed legalization isn't to tell you that it's not time or that he doesn't have the support. It's that you're a child for wanting it and that it's inappropriate to bring it up. The politicians don't disagree with drug legalization- they don't consider and say no- they dismiss it, as though it were a childish tantrum.

I've already posted this a couple of times, but what the hell, once more won't hurt.

Charles Bowden, who's written a fair bit on the War on Some Drugs, believes that whole scale legalization, or for that matter victory in the sense of a sealed off Southern border, would destabilize Mexico. If he's right, or even if it's just a shared belief by some high-ups in Washington, it would be a reasonable explanation for the refusal to discuss reform of the marijuana laws.

Two interviews with Charles Bowden.
posted by BigSky at 8:00 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Man, Metafilter after Romney gets elected is going to be fun!

I get that it's easy to snark about someone who isn't in charge and who isn't making decisions like this. I get it.

I just wonder, at what point do we stop apologizing for the person who is in charge and who is making decisions to censor your Internet?
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 8:03 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's a little sad that this discussion has strayed from the deletion to the topic that was deleted.
posted by DU at 8:03 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Right but I don't get why agreeing that his policy of leaving civil rights to the states is a bad idea is a defense?

For one thing, that is NOT what his policy is. DOMA and Sanctity of Life Act are both federal bills/laws which have serious federal effects. Ron Paul does not simply leave things to the states. You have to pay attention to what he does, not simply what he claims his beliefs are.

As for why leaving things to the states is problematic, for starters, the examples from the Civil Rights Era are precisely on point. Not all of us are okay with turning the clock back to 1950 for millions of people in our country. It's going to make literally millions of people absolutely miserable. It's not going to be like the Sam Kinison joke about taunting Somalians for not living where the food is, where there's a clear-cut solution for them to simply run away to a better state.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:04 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


It doesn't have much, I don't think, to do with Big Pharma, or even with individual aristocrats. It's all about the prisons and the people who get rich off locking people up-- this is their bread and butter.
posted by threeants at 8:07 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


...mandatory DMT in order to colonize the place beyond sleep and get free labor by enslaving the machine elves.

I say, doctor. That is an astonishingly good idea you've got there.
posted by vibrotronica at 8:07 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I just wonder, at what point do we stop apologizing for the person who is in charge and who is making decisions to censor your Internet?

It's less apologizing and more marveling at people offering no cogent (or sane) option, let alone support for systemic change, and therefore reserving all derision for the person who is in charge.
posted by zombieflanders at 8:09 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yet, if the Republicans nominated him, then our presidential debates would turn heavily on drug policy and civil liberties where he'd frankly obliterate Obama, perhaps dragging Obama back towards sanity.

More the reverse. The vote-getting tactic is less likely to be "You're right, Ron, let's talk about how each of us would end the war on drugs" and more likely to be "Ron Paul wants to let dangerous drug dealers, junkies, and gang-bangers out of jail where they will all converge on your house and rape your daughters."
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:12 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Charles Bowden, who's written a fair bit on the War on Some Drugs, believes that whole scale legalization, or for that matter victory in the sense of a sealed off Southern border, would destabilize Mexico. If he's right, or even if it's just a shared belief by some high-ups in Washington, it would be a reasonable explanation for the refusal to discuss reform of the marijuana laws.

That's a very interesting perspective, but it's not as if any drugs other than marijuana are on the table for legalization. Would marijuana legalization in and of itself really have that much of an effect on Mexico? I ask because I genuinely don't know.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:13 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


"Ron Paul wants to let dangerous drug dealers, junkies, and gang-bangers out of jail where they will all converge on your house and rape your daughters."

To be fair, legalizing drugs wouldn't spring those already in prison. Not that intellectual honesty is much of a feature in drug war arguments.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:14 AM on January 25, 2012


Why are many Democrats so limp on legalization?

Well, who else are the pot smokers going to vote for, Republicans?

Welcome to the two-party system. You don't have to actually offer anything worth voting for, you just have to make sure that you're better than what the other guys are offering, and make sure people vote against that.
posted by Kadin2048 at 8:15 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


If he's right, or even if it's just a shared belief by some high-ups in Washington, it would be a reasonable explanation for the refusal to discuss reform of the marijuana laws.

No, it wouldn't. It would be an interesting argument in favor of keeping marijuana laws as they are -- an argument that should be discussed. You know, discussed in the open with the citizens who are expressing concern about the laws.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 8:15 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Blazecock, that's not really what I meant. Rather, should the Republican nominee get elected, I think the userbase is going to fracture, with one group sniping at the other: that 'its your fault Obama didn't win the election' and the response 'if Obama was a worthwhile candidate, we would have supported him.'

I am not a fan of 'sending a message' though votes, because votes are fuzzy and you can't write a postscript on them.

Back to the deletion: this follows the pattern that was demonstrated in (former) Rep. Weiner's AMA on Reddit, in which his response to the question of decriminalization/legalization was along the lines of 'don't do drugs, stay in school.'

It is not taken seriously as an issue. It is not regarded as something that 'serious' adults indulge in, and since the 'War on Drugs' falls mainly on the poor and minority populations (while the movers and shakers maintain access to their own recreational drugs), there is no incentive to change its status.

The first step would be to get it off Schedule I. No politicial running for national office could afford to back any sort of change to policy until society's view of drugs and drug users changes. The massive flow of money to State enforecement apparatus is a large factor as well - one of the things America produces is military and police equpiment, and there is no political will to jeopardize those jobs.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 8:16 AM on January 25, 2012


"You can't tax a Mexican drug trafficking group"
posted by chronkite at 8:20 AM on January 25, 2012


No, it wouldn't. It would be an interesting argument in favor of keeping marijuana laws as they are -- an argument that should be discussed. You know, discussed in the open with the citizens who are expressing concern about the laws.

Let's say, for the sake of argument, that Bowden's arguments are not only true, but that they would apply just as much to marijuana legalization as they would to cocaine legalization.

So, let's say that Obama tries to answer that question. How is the POTUS going to say aloud that it is the administration's position that Mexico be allowed to peacefully earn its narco-dollars, so long as the US gets to keep its "show wars" on the border and Mexico doesn't get too obvious about it? And then, if someone asks why we don't just shut that whole Mexican racket down, what happens when Obama says, "because Mexico itself would effectively collapse without narco-dollars?"

The whole thing is madness top to bottom.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:22 AM on January 25, 2012


Well, if we were rational (mind, I'm not saying that we are rational), then we would evaluate the argument. I think we would reject it, since it is crazy. But whatever. My point is just that if this is the motivation for dismissing the call for policy reform, then it is a poor motivation. Rather than dismissing the call for reform, the arguments should be put on the table, and we should have an actual debate about them.
posted by Jonathan Livengood at 8:31 AM on January 25, 2012


people offering no cogent (or sane) option, let alone support for systemic change

I've been offering an option for systemic change for a couple years now: Vote Socialist/Green.
posted by DU at 8:33 AM on January 25, 2012


To be fair, legalizing drugs wouldn't spring those already in prison.

I could be mistaken, but I think it would. I don't think the government is allowed to keep people in jail for something that is now legal, even if it was illegal when they did it.
posted by showbiz_liz at 8:35 AM on January 25, 2012


The notion that it is the "elite" who supports continued drug prohibition absolutely doesn't stand to reason. The elite couldn't care less about it.

Drug prohibition has three political key legs: religious conservatives (who are neither political nor cultural elites), homeowners, community leaders, and other worthies in the inner-city and rural areas ravaged by the drug trade and drug addiction (the very opposite of elites), and the police and corrections unions (thoroughly blue collar).

What's interesting about this is how it is the perfect formula for bipartisanship. Religious conservatives are Republicans, as are the meth-blast-zone rurals; the inner city prohibitionists are core Democrats; and law enforcement and corrections unions are marvelously adept at playing both sides, although they lean more Democrat of late.
posted by MattD at 8:36 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


I don't think that's true at all. Rich people have access to, and use, illegal drugs. The difference is that they don't get punished harshly for using them, so they have no reason to fight for the people who DO get harshly punished.

This as well. One of the staunchest Republicans I've been aware of was my ex girlfriend's boss who was openly gay. I was shocked, but she wasn't: she said he's got money, and he's more concerned about losing the privileges attached to that than he is about equal rights.

Money is a hell of a drug.
posted by deanklear at 8:40 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


I could be mistaken, but I think it would. I don't think the government is allowed to keep people in jail for something that is now legal, even if it was illegal when they did it.

It is, as doing it on the date that the crime was committed on was still illegal. Civil disobedients are often arrested in the runup to delegalisation of offences for spite.
posted by jaduncan at 8:41 AM on January 25, 2012


Well, if we were rational (mind, I'm not saying that we are rational), then we would evaluate the argument. I think we would reject it, since it is crazy. But whatever. My point is just that if this is the motivation for dismissing the call for policy reform, then it is a poor motivation. Rather than dismissing the call for reform, the arguments should be put on the table, and we should have an actual debate about them.

I hear you, but at the same time, it only gets worse if we accept that Bowden's arguments are true, for sake of argument. If it really is the case that drug legalization would have catastrophic effects for Mexico, which would then effectively collapse, with ensuing collateral damage inflicted upon the US, then that is, at the very same time, from a purely realpolitik perspective, within its own logic, both a decent reason for present drug policy and a decent reason to never talk about it in public. It's a self-blackmailing point of view.

I could be mistaken, but I think it would. I don't think the government is allowed to keep people in jail for something that is now legal, even if it was illegal when they did it.

I'm sorry, but this isn't true.

I've been offering an option for systemic change for a couple years now: Vote Socialist/Green.

Electoral reform would have to come first, or else it's an exercise of private satisfaction without public effect.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:42 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Charles Bowden, who's written a fair bit on the War on Some Drugs, believes that whole scale legalization, or for that matter victory in the sense of a sealed off Southern border, would destabilize Mexico.

The stupid, it burns.

What does Mr. Bowden think will happen to Mexico if we don't legalize? Does he believe the current situation is somehow "stable" - or somehow desirable? What does he think caused the current problem in the first place?

Overall, we've had five Administrations in a row headed by Presidents who confessed to using illegal drugs - and yet it's not just that nothing changes, but we're treated like deliberately uncooperative children if we even attempt to have a rational discussion on the matter.

One of the key moments in my disenchantment with Mr. Obama was when he had the town hall meeting early on where he made fun of a pro-legalization supporter. I thought to myself, "Millions of people, a million Americans in particular, are in jail for smoking this mostly-harmless plant - most of them are black, like you - and you used pot too, if the law had been applied to you, you would not be President - and yet you act like a million Americans in jail is a huge joke."

> > I've been offering an option for systemic change for a couple years now: Vote Socialist/Green.

> Electoral reform would have to come first, or else it's an exercise of private satisfaction without public effect.

We see this claim in every thread that discusses any politics. There will never be electoral reform as long as we are controlled by this two-party system. Both parties have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by any rule change that gives any advantage to a third party.

So, unless you are proposing some scenario where the Republicans and Democrats will selflessly come together to reform the entirely electoral process, which seems like a pipe dream, what you are saying is, "You must always support either a Republican or a Democrat, and supporting any other party is forever irrational."
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 8:59 AM on January 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


No, it wouldn't. It would be an interesting argument in favor of keeping marijuana laws as they are -- an argument that should be discussed. You know, discussed in the open with the citizens who are expressing concern about the laws.

I didn't phrase it well in my earlier post, it's more like I would understand their motive and even consider their denial of the question rational, which would certainly be a change of pace. That's "rational" not necessarily correct. If Mexico is this dependent on the drug trade, I don't have an opinion on the best action. Sure would be a hell of a problem.

Brief excerpt from Bowden's 'Down by the River'.
posted by BigSky at 9:00 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The stupid, it burns.

What does Mr. Bowden think will happen to Mexico if we don't legalize? Does he believe the current situation is somehow "stable" - or somehow desirable? What does he think caused the current problem in the first place?


You obviously didn't read the second link. Spoiler: He thinks the current situation is far from stable.
posted by BigSky at 9:03 AM on January 25, 2012


So, unless you are proposing some scenario where the Republicans and Democrats will selflessly come together to reform the entirely electoral process, which seems like a pipe dream, what you are saying is, "You must always support either a Republican or a Democrat, and supporting any other party is forever irrational."

I prefer to think of it as pointing out a Catch-22.
posted by Sticherbeast at 9:04 AM on January 25, 2012


Electoral reform would have to come first, or else it's an exercise of private satisfaction without public effect.

That is not true. I vote for a party to the left of the Democrats is a vote that the Democrats could have had, if they were further left. "But!" you say, "then they lose the middle, and the middle has more people in it!" Not really. The middle has lots of people that don't have strong opinions. You can have the middle while still moving to the left. The Democrats just have to have a reason to move left, and as long as your vote is a foregone conclusion, they have no reason to do so.

A vote for a third party can have public effect, and is quite different from not voting because there is meaning conveyed by which other party you chose to vote for.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:19 AM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


Er, "I vote" -> "A vote"
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 9:19 AM on January 25, 2012


I prefer to think of it as pointing out a Catch-22.

It isn't a catch-22. Just vote for your candidate. Obama is making it easy for you by getting a failing grade from the ACLU. Just do it.

When leftist third party vote candidates start winning elections around the country, the Democrats will either start dying or start trying to win those votes. Either way, it's good for the country.
posted by DU at 9:21 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


People who occasionally use alcohol: people
People who occasionally use marijuana: potheads

Why is there never a gradient here?
posted by Camofrog at 9:35 AM on January 25, 2012 [12 favorites]


When leftist third party vote candidates

Who is a remotely viable leftist third party candidate for president?
posted by desjardins at 9:37 AM on January 25, 2012


Who is a remotely viable leftist third party candidate for president?

Viability is not the metric.
posted by DU at 9:41 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


> I prefer to think of it as pointing out a Catch-22.

But it isn't a Catch-22 - as in a situation where the problem statement logically prevents a solution.

It's a threshold problem - you need a minimum threshold of people to act together, or else nothing happens - hardly the same.

And let's be realistic here. Metafilter has a pretty large readership, but if each and every person who read this voted for a third-party the chances that it would change any individual election would be very close to zero. So don't feel as if you personally have to vote the lesser of two evils or something bad will happen - you can vote your conscience and be sure that the mass of lemmings will continue to do their jobs.

And voting for a third party sends a clear message - "I do not support either of the two main parties." If third-party candidates started to consistently get double-digit votes, people would notice - at some point when the support gets to a certain level greater than 10% but certainly less than 50% that third-party becomes viable as an alternative to the other two.

So, not a Catch-22 at all.


> You obviously didn't read the second link.

I did, but that just seemed to say, "It's all hopeless." He doesn't propose any solution at all, when it comes down to it. But I read it pretty fast (it made me sad and didn't seem to be much new information for me) and might have missed some of it...
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 9:41 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ron Paul would never get in the way of righteous toking.

If one could only use Ron Paul money to pay for the toking you do in church
posted by rough ashlar at 9:42 AM on January 25, 2012


I've been offering an option for systemic change for a couple years now: Vote Socialist/Green

When leftist third party vote candidates start winning elections around the country, the Democrats will either start dying or start trying to win those votes. Either way, it's good for the country.


What viable candidate is there? Voting for 3rd party candidates in national races is IMO at or near the bottom of the list of effective ways to change the electoral process. You don't win by making a point, you win by getting involved. You work with and vote for local politicians on your county councils or school boards, you get yourself active in the advocate groups that you support, you make your voice heard in the party of your choice, you contribute as much as you can to causes that you deem worthy. If any of that is done outside a party structure that is Republican or Democrat, great. But at the presidential level, that voice isn't being heard by 3rd party voting, especially if the end result is much much worse then it would have been (see also: 2001-2009).

A vote for a third party can have public effect, and is quite different from not voting because there is meaning conveyed by which other party you chose to vote for.

This is not particularly true, and depends on a lot of magical thinking. There is no meaning being conveyed inside the current two-party system in a national election. After all, did voting for Nader give us more leftist Democrats, or push the party or country as a whole to the left?

We see this claim in every thread that discusses any politics. There will never be electoral reform as long as we are controlled by this two-party system. Both parties have nothing to gain, and everything to lose, by any rule change that gives any advantage to a third party.

See above as to why voting 3rd party outside of local elections really isn't effective.

So, unless you are proposing some scenario where the Republicans and Democrats will selflessly come together to reform the entirely electoral process, which seems like a pipe dream, what you are saying is, "You must always support either a Republican or a Democrat, and supporting any other party is forever irrational."

That's a strawman, and not a particularly good one. In fact, I've yet to see anyone making an argument for electoral reform state anything that depends on fealty, and most if not all say the exact opposite. But by all means, I'd love to see the evidence of national 3rd-party candidacies helping move the conversation leftward.
posted by zombieflanders at 9:45 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Overall, we've had five Administrations in a row headed by Presidents who confessed to using illegal drugs - and yet it's not just that nothing changes, but we're treated like deliberately uncooperative children if we even attempt to have a rational discussion on the matter.

If the Executive and the Legislative won't work to make change - push for a Constitutional amendment for the change.

Imagine the potheads, the I-want-a-full-auto-with-large-clip and whomever else has been affected by the Wickard v. Filburn decision all getting together to get that 1940's decision overruled via a Constitutional amendment. Most of the 'its interstate commerce' laws rest on the idea that you can't grow your own wheat for your own use because it interferes with interstate commerce.
posted by rough ashlar at 9:50 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's toxic for both sides. Even the nuttiest republicans haven't attacked Obama for somewhat more liberal approach to marijuana. They've attacked them for everything, including the "hitler" and "communist" angle, but not the "drug fiend" angle. It's too dangerous for them because it can be seen as an outdated view even by their base.

On the other hand, it's also toxic for the Democrats because it might be somehow linked to the idea of being soft on crime, not directly, but if there's even a slight uptick in drug-related high profile crimes, it can easily capture the media's attention and become a highly emotional issue at a crucial time. And there's no certainty that arguments about legalization decreasing crime will make a strong case (strong enough to counteract the emotional, direct arguments on the other side).

For the democrats it's a simple calculation that if they are a tiny bit less warlike on drugs, especially in a way of omission of demonizing rhetoric, they'll get the votes. If they go too far, it can become a minefield, and they gain little to nothing politically.
posted by rainy at 9:55 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Maybe if he gets re-elected he'll tell the DEA to cool their jets and take positive steps towards decriminalization?

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Thanks for the early morning laugh. (I still can't tell if you were being sarcastic or not.)

I'm not a potsmoker and don't really have anything to do with potheads

Imagine if we called all wine drinkers "winos" ... Obama is an ass, but public perception is still the main battle for legalization, imo.

And, of course, protecting legal access to medicine, but that's a separate issue.

Why are many Democrats so limp on legalization?

Because they are old, white, or Christian. Often all 3 together.

In other words, don't blame the cabal, blame the Moral "Majority."

Indeed. Big Pharma, Big Alcohol, and Big Tobacco can not stop the people. We just need enough people. It will happen, probably after I'm dead.

I of course understand that Obama would be sunk if he were to even entertain the idea of marijuana legalization.

I really don't buy this. It's a shame.

If he's right, or even if it's just a shared belief by some high-ups in Washington, it would be a reasonable explanation for the refusal to discuss reform of the marijuana laws.

It would be a reasonable (maybe the only one) explanation for making marijuana illegal, but that has nothing to do with its Schedule I status, and it should NEVER be a reasonable explanation for a refusal to DISCUSS anything.

Also, I think the current drug war has already destabilized Mexico quite a bit.

an exercise of private satisfaction without public effect

Election results in themselves are already a public effect. /my2c
posted by mrgrimm at 9:59 AM on January 25, 2012


did voting for Nader give us more leftist Democrats, or push the party or country as a whole to the left?

One election isn't going to do it. That said, yes. Since the 2000 election I've seen a lot more people dissatisfied with Democrats.
posted by DU at 10:01 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is not particularly true, and depends on a lot of magical thinking. There is no meaning being conveyed inside the current two-party system in a national election. After all, did voting for Nader give us more leftist Democrats, or push the party or country as a whole to the left?

I don't think you know what "magical thinking" means. There's a clear mechanism for this to work within the current two party system. Whether it does work or not is a valid question, but there's no magical thinking here.

You claim that there is no meaning conveyed by the vote, and then, in the very next sentence, you show that you know EXACTLY what meaning is conveyed. The conveyance of meaning is, of course, different from the effectiveness of the communication. But the answer to your second question is yes, Kerry campaigned further to the left than Gore did. And then Obama campaigned further to the left than Kerry (thought I admit, that's open to debate, because he did a lot via dogwhistles).

Just campaigning to the left is not sufficient, but it's a start.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 10:04 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


One election isn't going to do it. That said, yes. Since the 2000 election I've seen a lot more people dissatisfied with Democrats.

Anecdotes are not the plural of data. Has the country as a whole moved to the left? Has the Democratic Party moved to the left? Have Democratic elected officials moved to the left? If you've got evidence of this, please share it.

I don't think you know what "magical thinking" means. There's a clear mechanism for this to work within the current two party system. Whether it does work or not is a valid question, but there's no magical thinking here.

You claim that there is no meaning conveyed by the vote, and then, in the very next sentence, you show that you know EXACTLY what meaning is conveyed. The conveyance of meaning is, of course, different from the effectiveness of the communication.


Perhaps magical thinking isn't the right term, but until you can correlate voting for third parties with moving the discourse to the left, it's the closest term I could think of.

But the answer to your second question is yes, Kerry campaigned further to the left than Gore did. And then Obama campaigned further to the left than Kerry (thought I admit, that's open to debate, because he did a lot via dogwhistles).

Did Kerry actually campaign further to the left, or did he just seem like it because it was post-9/11? And as for Obama's campaign, I'd argue that it wasn't all that dissimilar for either.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:17 AM on January 25, 2012


> You don't win by making a point, you win by getting involved. You work with and vote for local politicians on your county councils or school boards, you get yourself active in the advocate groups that you support, you make your voice heard in the party of your choice, you contribute as much as you can to causes that you deem worthy.

This has not worked. The very idea that as a drug decriminalization or even legalization supporter you could under any circumstances "make your voice heard in the party of your choice" is obviously ludicrous, for example.

It isn't even the Red Queen's Race - we're running as hard as we can, and we aren't even staying in the same place.

> > So, unless you are proposing some scenario where the Republicans and Democrats will selflessly come together to reform the entirely electoral process, which seems like a pipe dream, what you are saying is, "You must always support either a Republican or a Democrat, and supporting any other party is forever irrational."

> That's a strawman,

You clearly stated that voting for a third party is a bad strategy without electoral reform.

Electoral reform would be impossible without Republicans and Democrats coming together to reform the electoral process - surely you agree on this too?

So if R and D do not come together to reform the electoral systems, then you believe that voting for a third party will always be a bad strategy.

Where's the strawman?

> and not a particularly good one. In fact, I've yet to see anyone making an argument for electoral reform state anything that depends on fealty, and most if not all say the exact opposite.

I'm having trouble parsing your statement into a meaning that supports your argument. Can you perhaps rephrase this? Can I see these arguments you're referring to?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:18 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


You don't think Obama campaigned to the left of Gore? The whole joke in 2000 was that Gore and Bush were indistinguishable. Not many people made that joke about Obama and McCain.
posted by DU at 10:18 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Exactly, it's idiotic to leave decisions on civil liberties like gay marriage to the states
And yet here we are, with six states offering gay marriage, and another dozen with some form of "civil union" at least. If it was up to the federal government, do you really think we'd be at fifty instead?

I think we'd be at zero.

And I think this alternate universe would stay stuck at zero for a lot longer than we'll be stuck at six; "The queers are going to destroy our societiez!!1!" becomes a lot less popular after everyone can look around at multiple examples of very-similar-except-more-homosexual-friendly, conspicuously-non-destroyed societies contradicting it.
posted by roystgnr at 10:25 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


> Perhaps magical thinking isn't the right term, but until you can correlate voting for third parties with moving the discourse to the left, it's the closest term I could think of.

When you say "magical thinking" you just mean "I think you're wrong." Why not just say that?

And frankly, I don't think you're using "correlate" correctly - and it's not just that it's ridiculous to "correlate" against some non-numerical concept like "moving the discourse to the left".

Over my lifetime, third parties have become increasingly marginalized (heck, in my lifetime there were at least two third-party Presidential candidates who were treated at least somewhat seriously by the media, they being John Anderson and Ross Perot). And over my lifetime, the discourse has moved away from the left.

So if the term correlate was at all meaningful in this context, you'd say over the last two generations there is a correlation between voting for third parties and moving the discourse to the left. (Of course, there would be just as strong a correlation between computer CPU speeds and moving the discourse to the right... as I said, it's a ridiculous word to use in the context.)
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:31 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


I did, but that just seemed to say, "It's all hopeless." He doesn't propose any solution at all, when it comes down to it. But I read it pretty fast (it made me sad and didn't seem to be much new information for me) and might have missed some of it...

That's pretty much his conclusion. Your earlier response had questions that were mostly answered. He apparently doesn't think there's any real solution to be had. He probably equates ending the Drug War with setting off civil unrest along the border and the destruction of communities further south that depend on the drug money. I'm not convinced he's correct, but I think he may have a point and it deserves some consideration.
posted by BigSky at 10:35 AM on January 25, 2012


those voters who would shriek like banshees if a b-b-b-b-black man wanted to legalize p-p-p-p-pot.

"He's a Muslim social who is out to destroy us through Obamacare!" "We need to explore second amendment remedies!" How much fucking louder can they shriek?

His stance is a cynical calculation to get a percentage point or two. Sadly, his math is probably correct.

The whole joke in 2000 was that Gore and Bush were indistinguishable. Not many people made that joke about Obama and McCain.

Not about the Obama and McCain campaigns, no.
posted by tyllwin at 10:39 AM on January 25, 2012


Not about the Obama and McCain campaigns, no.

Not about them themselves either. Until around 2010.
posted by DU at 10:43 AM on January 25, 2012


I wasn't trying to draw an equivalence between the two men, really. But I'm not sure there's much difference in the actual Obama administration's results and what a hypothetical McCain administration's results might have looked like.
posted by tyllwin at 10:48 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


This has not worked.

Really? Because the Republicans have made fantastic use of packing local and state elected offices with anti-choice, anti-evolution, anti-drug reform, and anti-civil rights/liberties people for at least a decade now.

The very idea that as a drug decriminalization or even legalization supporter you could under any circumstances "make your voice heard in the party of your choice" is obviously ludicrous, for example.

It isn't even the Red Queen's Race - we're running as hard as we can, and we aren't even staying in the same place.


First of all, if you're going to make every vote from President on down a single-issue vote, then of course you're going to be quite disappointed. And second, I don't think that's the case at all, and public opinion backs this up. And party mobilization seems to be getting public opinion on it's side in several states like CA, DC, CO, and WA.

You clearly stated that voting for a third party is a bad strategy without electoral reform.

Electoral reform would be impossible without Republicans and Democrats coming together to reform the electoral process - surely you agree on this too?

So if R and D do not come together to reform the electoral systems, then you believe that voting for a third party will always be a bad strategy.

Where's the strawman?


Perhaps I should have pointed out that the strawman was specifically the part where you said "You must always support either a Republican or a Democrat, and supporting any other party is forever irrational."

I'm having trouble parsing your statement into a meaning that supports your argument. Can you perhaps rephrase this? Can I see these arguments you're referring to?

I see no one saying you must always support a R or D, nor that supporting a 3rd party will forever be irrational. And I can't prove a negative.

The whole joke in 2000 was that Gore and Bush were indistinguishable. Not many people made that joke about Obama and McCain.

If you can find any substantive differences between the actual platforms of the Gore, Kerry, and/or Obama campaigns, I'd love to see them. I really couldn't, which means that undercuts the whole "there's not a lot of substantive difference in the end" narrative, unless you honestly believe a President Gore or Kerry would have given us the 2003 tax cuts, or ignored health care reform, or stopped enforcing DOMA, just to give some examples.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:51 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Er, continued enforcing DOMA, that is.
posted by zombieflanders at 10:52 AM on January 25, 2012


> Perhaps I should have pointed out that the strawman was specifically the part where you said "You must always support either a Republican or a Democrat, and supporting any other party is forever irrational."

You are misquoting me, and dramatically:

"So, unless you are proposing some scenario where the Republicans and Democrats will selflessly come together to reform the entirely electoral process, which seems like a pipe dream, what you are saying is, "You must always support either a Republican or a Democrat, and supporting any other party is forever irrational.""

In this posting above, which you might have missed, I explain the reasoning.

1. "Electoral reform would have to come first [before supporting a third party], or else it's an exercise of private satisfaction without public effect." (i.e. supporting a third party is a bad strategy)
2. Without a third party, electoral reform can only be achieved by the Democratic Party and/or the Republican Party.
3. Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party will support significant electoral reform because they have nothing to gain.

Conclusion: electoral reform will never come and it will never be a good strategy to support a third party.

It seems to me that it's logically hard to refute the argument. IF you agree with these assumptions THEN you must agree with these conclusions. If you do not agree with the conclusion, you must explain which assumption is wrong, or explain what is wrong with my reasoning.

My personal belief is that assumption 1 is incorrect, of course.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:10 AM on January 25, 2012


When leftist third party vote candidates start winning elections around the country, the Democrats will either start dying or start trying to win those votes. Either way, it's good for the country.

This is the American political version of a belief in the Rapture. It hasn't happened in the past and there isn't any evidence that it will happen in the future, but that won't stop guys on the internet from continuing to predict it.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:11 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Electoral reform would have to come first [before supporting a third party], or else it's an exercise of private satisfaction without public effect." (i.e. supporting a third party is a bad strategy)

I was talking about national elections, since we're talking about Obama and Paul and all. I'm all for third party support at the local levels, or for a spoiler candidate who will soak up votes from the right (a la Perot or Paul). Trickle up and whatnot.

I'm also fine with informal vote exchanges between red and blue states, although they might be of dubious legality - I don't remember.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:13 AM on January 25, 2012


The USA uses first past the post voting. This means that voting for another leftish party instead of the Democrats will have the result of Republicans getting elected. See also Ralph Nader, 2000. Conversely, voting alternative to Republicans gets Democrats elected. This is obvious even to Tea Party members so why it continues to elude MeFites is a mystery.

You can't do it. Well, you can, but it will have the practical opposite effect to what you intend to achieve with it. The better plan is what the Tea Partiers have done: take over the existing party. Branch-stack candidate and branch exec positions, and convert, drive out, or intimidate moderates. "You seriously want to continue the War on Drugs? You don't want single-payer health care? Start your own party, class traitor! Democrat values are, and always have been, fairness and justice - the party lost its way for a while, thanks to weaklings and bipartisans" (spit that word) "like you, but now we are back, and we will win!"
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:14 AM on January 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


Sometimes, Jesse Ventura gets elected. Third party candidates are much bigger wildcards than they can seem just based on Perot, if they have a message that resonates and the funding and organization to keep pace with the parties there is no reason one can't win.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:17 AM on January 25, 2012


> > When leftist third party vote candidates start winning elections around the country, the Democrats will either start dying or start trying to win those votes. Either way, it's good for the country.

> This is the American political version of a belief in the Rapture.

Does making fun of people really help the discourse? That's just as bad as calling someone's argument "magical thinking".

> It hasn't happened in the past

This is not correct.

There are numerous periods in the past where leftist candidates won a lot of votes in the US - a personal hero of mine, Eugene Debs, won millions of votes as a Socialist candidate while in jail - and after those periods the "discourse" was far to the left of what it was today - FDR being a prime example!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:20 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Thread to long to follow completely, but FWIW: VICENTE FOX, former president of Mexico, is all in favor of legalization of drugs in both the US and his country :"it's eroding the future of Mexico" (BBC tv interview & short article).
By calling for an end to the drug war, he joins prominent figures from around the world—including former Brazilian President Fernando Henrique Cardoso, former Mexican foreign minister Jorge Castañeda, former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz, and many others—who are calling for policies that treat drug abuse as a social problem, rather than a criminal one.
posted by liza at 11:22 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It’s simply astounding to me that something that has been recommended by every government-commissioned panel that has studied it (and you would think they’d have ‘bought’ a different result at some point in time), that has been recommended at various times by various professional public health associations, that is now supported by almost 50% of Americans can still be so flippantly dismissed. I can come no conclusion as to why this would occur outside of unacknowledged influence, of which I’m sure there are many (government or private pressure, fear of public backlash, etc, etc).

It is a sacred cow, a tradition that has been passed down to us that is so baffling and unfounded in reality that questioning it creates so much cognitive dissonance that such questioning is rejected outright. It is partly rejected because it would lead to the same place it always seems to, which is that some form of legalization or decriminalization is an obvious positive step. However, it is not so much what we would have to acknowledge about what to do now that is so hard to accept, but what we’ve done before.

It would require us to say: we were wrong, we have jailed hundreds of thousands of people, confiscated untold amounts of assets, destroyed families, careers and lives, we have spent a simply unbelievable amount of money on something destructive to our own people that we have been maintaining for decades in the face of all medical and sociological evidence, we have been waging a war on ourselves built out of racism, classism and fear, and that we have lied about it to our citizens and our children, and that we have never taken the time or had the courage to face this and admit that we were wrong to do it then and we are wrong to continue it now. It’s no wonder people don’t like to be confronted with that, especially when, for whatever reason, they will not even consider admitting to its truth.

As far as Mexico goes, if they’re already producing and distributing it, I don’t see how they’d lose out if it were legal. The cartels would just have to get used to spending more money on regulations and taxes and less money on guns.

As far as people in jail go, well, it depends, but personally I would suggest pardoning marijuana offenses and issuing a serious apology, for those that would be released, helping them find work and housing if necessary and hoping that gesture is enough to prevent at least a few of the surely numerous lawsuits against the government that I suspect would result otherwise.

Since we are speaking of a plant that has effects both as a recreational intoxicant and medicinal product, that doesn’t need to be made in a factory, that has uses for fibers and probably quite a bit more, a number of industries could certainly make the choice to fear its re-introduction to the economy. Of course, any of those industries could also choose to explore and profit from the expansion of opportunities provided, and realize that trying to maintain their profits by the oppression of the people who make and purchase their products isn’t a winning strategy. It’s not only wrong, it’s becoming more indefensible with every passing year, and perhaps that is why people don’t like being asked – they know they don’t have an acceptable answer.
posted by nTeleKy at 11:24 AM on January 25, 2012 [5 favorites]


And if my aunt was a man she would be my uncle. The occasional pig falling from an aeroplane does not imply that they as a species can fly. Ventura had huge personal appeal. (As did Ralph Nader.) That does not scale to the party level.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 11:24 AM on January 25, 2012


This means that voting for another leftish party instead of the Democrats will have the result of Republicans getting elected.

"You better vote for us or the monster will get you!"

Bring the beast to heel instead.
posted by DU at 11:24 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sometimes, Jesse Ventura gets elected. Third party candidates are much bigger wildcards than they can seem just based on Perot, if they have a message that resonates and the funding and organization to keep pace with the parties there is no reason one can't win.

Jesse Ventura was elected at the state level, which fits in perfectly with what I'm talking about. As for Perot, he obviously had tremendous wealth and power to begin with. He spoiled the race for GHWB, and it was his influence which allowed the also-already-famous Ventura to successfully run.

There are numerous periods in the past where leftist candidates won a lot of votes in the US - a personal hero of mine, Eugene Debs, won millions of votes as a Socialist candidate while in jail - and after those periods the "discourse" was far to the left of what it was today - FDR being a prime example!

Debs viewed his presidential runs primarily as PR campaigns to get people concretely active in unions and socialism. Another point being, you need a base before you can have a viable candidate. I think we're one or two tipping points away from getting millions more progressives/socialists to vote as a bloc, but we're not there yet.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:26 AM on January 25, 2012


Also, I should note that given what I've seen of the Democrats, they may very well NOT shift left if they lose significant votes on that side. But in that case, they couldn't have done anything to stop the rightward race anyway.
posted by DU at 11:27 AM on January 25, 2012


And I should add that Debs was in jail for free speech violations - simply for speaking out against the war. How little has changed!

If you think Mr. Obama is a "great orator," you should read Deb's speeches. At his trial, for example:
Your honor, I have stated in this court that I am opposed to the form of our present government; that I am opposed to the social system in which we live; that I believe in the change of both but by perfectly peaceable and orderly means....

I am thinking this morning of the men in the mills and factories; I am thinking of the women who, for a paltry wage, are compelled to work out their lives; of the little children who, in this system, are robbed of their childhood, and in their early, tender years, are seized in the remorseless grasp of Mammon, and forced into the industrial dungeons, there to feed the machines while they themselves are being starved body and soul....

Your honor, I ask no mercy, I plead for no immunity. I realize that finally the right must prevail. I never more fully comprehended than now the great struggle between the powers of greed on the one hand and upon the other the rising hosts of freedom. I can see the dawn of a better day of humanity. The people are awakening. In due course of time they will come into their own.
[...later in the trial, after he has gotten ten years in jail for his words alone...]
Your Honor, years ago I recognized my kinship with all living beings, and I made up my mind that I was not one bit better than the meanest on earth. I said then, and I say now, that while there is a lower class, I am in it, and while there is a criminal element I am of it, and while there is a soul in prison, I am not free.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:29 AM on January 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


Jesse Ventura was elected at the state level, which fits in perfectly with what I'm talking about. As for Perot, he obviously had tremendous wealth and power to begin with. He spoiled the race for GHWB, and it was his influence which allowed the also-already-famous Ventura to successfully run.

It's going to have to be someone of wealth and power with personal appeal, yeah. There won't be any other way to fundraise at the same level as the parties at first, but real success will grab the attention of the corporate donors, they don't care about party.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:29 AM on January 25, 2012


What are my concerns about US politics at this point? That zip will be done about climate change until it is way too late... that after the election actions will be taken that result in a full on depression... that inequality and poverty will get even worse.

If Obama judges that he better keep the heck away from even talking about things like marijuana in order to preserve chances of getting elected and getting anything at all done on the big things, so be it.

Those are the games that the grown ups have to play.
posted by philipy at 11:32 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


> I think we're one or two tipping points away from getting millions more progressives/socialists to vote as a bloc, but we're not there yet.

Fine, we agree - then how, exactly, are we to reach those one or two tipping points without supporting candidates that are not Republicans or Democrats?

Are you really going to claim that if we show up at enough Democratic fundraisers and keep voting for them that they're going to let us show up at their meetings and talk about Socialism?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:33 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Those are the games that the grown ups have to play.

And other grownups and kids have to pay via our criminal justice system.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:33 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


If Obama...getting anything at all done on the big things

If, indeed. Remember all that legislation he passed in the last four years to clean up the environment? Oh and raising taxes on the rich while increasing welfare for the poor? That public health system?
posted by DU at 11:34 AM on January 25, 2012


I really wish Vicente Fox and other politicians who come out in favor of decriminalization/legalization AFTER they leave office had the guts to act on those ideas while they are IN office.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 11:37 AM on January 25, 2012 [3 favorites]


Fine, we agree - then how, exactly, are we to reach those one or two tipping points without supporting candidates that are not Republicans or Democrats?

Beats me. Barring unforeseen developments, I prefer the idea of people invading the party a la the Tea Party. I would think that, should the Republican Party implode further, that would be an opportunity.

A good start, outside of invading the Democratic Party a la the Tea Party, would be to get voters to organize tightly in states where they could actually gain momentum as a group. Get certain states to become truly progressive states.

Turning electoral reform into a non-partisan issue would be great as well. There is just about no good reason not to implement it, nor any reason to make it an idea exclusively of the left (or right). Build momentum until it's utterly inescapable.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:38 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Fine, we agree - then how, exactly, are we to reach those one or two tipping points without supporting candidates that are not Republicans or Democrats?

Local elections. And feel free to support third party candidates there. Way easier to win that way.
posted by empath at 11:40 AM on January 25, 2012


Are you really going to claim that if we show up at enough Democratic fundraisers and keep voting for them that they're going to let us show up at their meetings and talk about Socialism?

Not at first, no. Maybe not for years. Look how long it took the Birchers to eat the GOP. But it'll probably take at least as long to get your third party candidate elected. Either way, you've got a lot of work cut out for you, so you should start this afternoon.
posted by octobersurprise at 11:40 AM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The first step would be to get it off Schedule I.

There is currently a bill sponsored by Barney Frank and Ron Paul to reschedule it.
posted by nTeleKy at 11:44 AM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


> If Obama judges that he better keep the heck away from even talking about things like marijuana in order to preserve chances of getting elected and getting anything at all done on the big things, so be it.

Mr. Obama's record on climate change has so far been completely disappointing, from the Copenhagen, Cancún and Durban conferences, down to his failure to put Carter's solar panels back on the White House (and yes, I'm general not very positive about "symbolic victories" like that, but we aren't even getting those.)

Right now the US has committed to come to an international agreement about climate change by 2015 - when Mr. Obama has a decent chance to be President - but which will come into effect in 2020 - when Mr. Obama is absolutely certain not to be President. So domestic implementation and enforcement of any laws regarding climate change will be subject to the whims of whatever later President we have then, because of course that President won't feel himself to be bound by the rule of law (because international treaties have the status of US law according to the Constitution) any more than Mr. Obama does now.

In other words, in the current set up, it is guaranteed that Mr. Obama will not be able to have a significant effect on climate change. And with the United States being the gorilla at the table at these negotiations, and considering that the US's negotiators' initial starting positions more or less ended up as the group conclusion in these three conferences, it's very hard to argue that Mr. Obama didn't get exactly what he wanted.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 11:47 AM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


What are my concerns about US politics at this point? That zip will be done about climate change until it is way too late... that after the election actions will be taken that result in a full on depression... that inequality and poverty will get even worse.

If Obama judges that he better keep the heck away from even talking about things like marijuana in order to preserve chances of getting elected and getting anything at all done on the big things, so be it.

Those are the games that the grown ups have to play.


You are an ass. And you're also dead wrong at the same time. Double fail!

If your big issue is global warming, I can't possibly understand why you would vote for Obama. (Well, at least not in 2012. In 2008, I suppose no one knew for sure (though many obviously expected it) that he wouldn't do jack.)
posted by mrgrimm at 12:02 PM on January 25, 2012


I find this tedious. Urban ghettos watched the best minds melted away by easy access to alcohol in the hood - a liquor store on every corner. Now we watch the best online minds be melted away by endless drug reform rhetoric/rant; pot talk on every blog/page.

I'd sure keep the talk off my page if I were trying to make real changes in the world.
posted by Surfurrus at 12:07 PM on January 25, 2012


1. "Electoral reform would have to come first [before supporting a third party], or else it's an exercise of private satisfaction without public effect." (i.e. supporting a third party is a bad strategy)
2. Without a third party, electoral reform can only be achieved by the Democratic Party and/or the Republican Party.
3. Neither the Democratic Party nor the Republican Party will support significant electoral reform because they have nothing to gain.

Conclusion: electoral reform will never come and it will never be a good strategy to support a third party.


Well then I'd have to say you came to the wrong conclusion because you made the wrong assumptions, and in a backwards order. Even assuming #3 is correct, no one is saying electoral reform can only by achieved by D and/or R. As myself and others keep on repeating, electoral reform comes from below, not from above. The procedure you outline basically seems to start at the top and throw up one's hands in disgust when that doesn't work. So, given that you're no longer depending on the national party, things become a lot easier, doubly so if you're also actively engaged in outside advocacy groups such as unions, the ACLU, or in this case NORML. Assuming you're doing all of this, then you're probably managing to influence the party (still locally at this point) in some way towards your viewpoint. If enough people are doing this, then presumably this goes further up the ladder to larger localities and/or the state-level party. Now you're effecting change on a larger scale, and in ways that can at least start to have influence on the national debate. If this fails at any step, go back to the prior one and try again.

It seems to me that it's logically hard to refute the argument. IF you agree with these assumptions THEN you must agree with these conclusions. If you do not agree with the conclusion, you must explain which assumption is wrong, or explain what is wrong with my reasoning.

My personal belief is that assumption 1 is incorrect, of course.


It's not logicially hard to refute, mainly because I don't agree with your assumptions or conclusions, which I went over in detail above.

There are numerous periods in the past where leftist candidates won a lot of votes in the US - a personal hero of mine, Eugene Debs, won millions of votes as a Socialist candidate while in jail - and after those periods the "discourse" was far to the left of what it was today - FDR being a prime example!

Eugene Debs, of course, engaged himself in numerous advocacy groups and worked to help states and localities to move their conversations leftward. He didn't spring up and tell people to start voting against just the president. Which is what I've been saying all along, yet is somehow seen as wrongheaded.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:14 PM on January 25, 2012


Urban ghettos watched the best minds melted away by easy access to alcohol in the hood

You really think that alcohol is the major problem in the hood?
posted by desjardins at 12:21 PM on January 25, 2012 [6 favorites]


@the man something something DEATH WISH something :P fox is willy character. many thought he was buddies with Dubya only to find he had tore him a new one in his autobiography (he called W a "windshield cowboy" who was afraid of horses); but i get that, for him, the biggest US-Mx foreign policy issue was immigration reform and the GOP basically left him alone on that one. that would have been the middle of the road solution to the border crisis. now? not so much.

and FWIW...

it is no coincidence the loudest drum major for the "war on drugs" has been COLOMBIA, a country that his former president Alvaro Uribe likes to sell as "having won the war on drugs" and thusly, a great example of how to win the war in Afghanistan. Remember, Afghanistan has at one point been a "war about drugs" amongst other fallacies.

of course, the dirty little secret about Colombia's "war" is that it's been used to shield any attempts at agrarian reform based particularly on indigenous land rights. If y'all aren't aware, agrarian reform is to Latin America what african slavery & first people's genocide reparations are to the United States.

the war on drugs makes a lot of money on both ends of the border for the war industry. and it's not just for war profiteers: remember when the CIA was trafficking cocaine in the name of democracy? oh, right. it was bound to happen. after all, opium production went up in Afghanistan once the US started to meddle with the country's affairs.

sure, am pointing to cocaine & opium, not marijuana which is the focus of this post, but the fact of the matter is that "the drug wars" are just an excuse for land grab & colonization, endless war and government subsidized illegal drug trafficking. to the 1%ers who make money out of the misery wreaked by the wars on drugs, there's far much to lose not by legalizing consumption but by legalizing & regulating production.

that's why any questions about marijuana are deemed "inappropriate" by a white house bought by the 1%.
posted by liza at 12:21 PM on January 25, 2012 [9 favorites]


If your big issue is global warming, I can't possibly understand why you would vote for Obama.

So who is the big anti-global warming Presidential candidate this year?
posted by octobersurprise at 12:23 PM on January 25, 2012


"You better vote for us or the monster will get you!"

Bring the beast to heel instead.


Working to "bring the beast to heel" and voting for a lesser evil in the meantime are not mutually exclusive. Again, see 2000. Ignoring the ripple effect of national-level candidates is always more dangerous than holding your nose and doing your best to change things from the ground up.

Also, I should note that given what I've seen of the Democrats, they may very well NOT shift left if they lose significant votes on that side. But in that case, they couldn't have done anything to stop the rightward race anyway.

So if the left abandons the Dems instead of trying to work from within the system to change them, the Dem establishment should learn not to piss them off? And we should just give up anyway? Talk about cutting off the nose to spite the face...

Are you really going to claim that if we show up at enough Democratic fundraisers and keep voting for them that they're going to let us show up at their meetings and talk about Socialism?

Look, if you're going to ignore everybody saying "work for and with better candidates from the bottom up and you can get them to the top," then why even have this discussion? You don't like your Democrat, then work with another. Start small, don't give up after the 1st or 15th or 50th time, and work your way up. If working with the party doesn't work, go another way but start from the bottom again. Anyone inspired by and quoting Eugene Debs should already know this by now.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:26 PM on January 25, 2012


Now we watch the best online minds be melted away by endless drug reform rhetoric/rant; pot talk on every blog/page.

I'd sure keep the talk off my page if I were trying to make real changes in the world.


Preventing millions from being arrested; reducing the population of our prison system (which really borders on serious human rights abuses); incorporating freedom of expression into the speech protections of the First Amendment...

I can't think of many other possible (and certainly achievable) changes that could be more "real."

But go on painting intelligent activists as stupid stoners. It's the best argument your side has, I suppose.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:27 PM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


> As myself and others keep on repeating, electoral reform comes from below, not from above.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no possible way at all for citizens to directly effect electoral reform - they must rely on lawmakers, that is, their Senators and Congressmen, to pass laws to change the current electoral system.

And we also have the last three decades of electoral change in the United States to look at. I'd say voting is quite different now from when I was young, wouldn't you? Would you say these changes came from below? That Citizens United or computer voting machines were a response to an insistent demand from the voters?

Perhaps I'm wrong - can you give me examples of electoral change coming from below?
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:29 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


American culture is shifting steadily toward marijuana legalization despite determined and well-financed governmental opposition. The powers-that-be can keep hammering on the "enforcement" button all they like, but demographics are against them. Ten years from now, a supermajority of American citizens will support legalization. Some politician will notice this and take a gamble on it, we'll have a Nixon-in-China moment, and the whole thing will fall apart.

My hope is that marijuana legalization will drive total decriminalization, and we won't have to fight the same battles over again for MDMA, LSD, 'shrooms, ketamine, etc.
posted by Mars Saxman at 12:36 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


So who is the big anti-global warming Presidential candidate this year?

Whomever is in favor of carbon taxes. Kent Mesplay is one.
posted by mrgrimm at 12:40 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Look, if you're going to ignore everybody saying "work for and with better candidates from the bottom up and you can get them to the top," then why even have this discussion?

We're not arguing about that - we're arguing about this next phrase:

> You don't like your Democrat, then work with another.

But there aren't any others. Literally, I will never get a Democratic candidate in my district who will ever say, "War is bad", or "Maybe we should legalize pot," or "Maybe the President should obey the law under all circumstances."

> Start small, don't give up after the 1st or 15th or 50th time, and work your way up.

50 * 2 year Congressional cycle = 100 years. I expect to be long dead by then. Senatorial or Presidential cycle? We're talking centuries.

> If working with the party doesn't work,

That is right, working with the party does not work.

> go another way but start from the bottom again.

Does "go another way" mean support third-party candidates? That's what I'm actually proposing, yes?

I'm not sure, though, what "start from the bottom again" would really mean. It's hard to get more "the bottom" than third-party candidates. I've been involved with third-party candidates and there's an awful lot of getting your neighbors involved and shaking the hands of a thousand strangers.

> Anyone inspired by and quoting Eugene Debs should already know this by now.

Under a Democratic President, Eugene Debs was incarcerated for ten years for simply speaking out in general terms against WWI. If there's one person who exemplifies the "progressive third-party candidate", it's Debs.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 12:42 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Urban ghettos watched the best minds melted away by easy access to alcohol in the hood - a liquor store on every corner. Now we watch the best online minds be melted away by endless drug reform rhetoric/rant; pot talk on every blog/page.

Prohibition, which banned alcohol, was one of the biggest law enforcement mistakes in American history, and almost no one with an IQ above 60 would want to bring it back. The War on Some Drugs is similarly idiotic. Drug policy reform is no more mere "pot talk" than economic policy reform is mere "coin talk."
posted by Sticherbeast at 12:43 PM on January 25, 2012 [4 favorites]


If, indeed. Remember all that legislation he passed in the last four years to clean up the environment? Oh and raising taxes on the rich while increasing welfare for the poor? That public health system?

You mean all of the stuff that would have had to originate from a Congress that is openly hostile to him? Do you not understand how legislation works?

If your big issue is global warming, I can't possibly understand why you would vote for Obama. (Well, at least not in 2012. In 2008, I suppose no one knew for sure (though many obviously expected it) that he wouldn't do jack.)

Because 1) single-issue voting is totally a smart move, and 2) again, do neither you nor Rolling Stone not know how legislation works? Obama at least has taken steps to do something at the executive level, but he can't just create legislation from nothing. From your link:
Under Obama, the EPA had pushed forward with plans to regulate climate pollution under the Clean Air Act. The president's stimulus package included unprecedented investments in clean energy and green jobs, and on July 3rd the administration unveiled $2 billion in new spending to support solar power. The administration used its leverage over the bankrupt auto industry to secure a historic increase in fuel efficiency. And top Cabinet officials from Browner to Chu to Jackson – even Salazar, who greenlighted the nation's first offshore wind farm – have walked their talk on global warming. The president himself has made six major speeches on the need for climate legislation, and last December he flew to Copenhagen to help salvage international climate talks from a complete crash-and-burn.

Browner is quick to point out that the administration still holds a trump card: the EPA's new power to crack down on carbon emissions, without the help of Congress. "Everyone understands that we've got an EPA with authority," she says. "They've been thinking very carefully, very thoughtfully, on how they would exercise that authority."

If the president doesn't have his heart in taking the lead on climate change, it's clear that he's still willing to play defense. In June, a bipartisan group of senators led by Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska, backed an amendment to prohibit the EPA from regulating climate pollution from utilities, manufacturers and other stationary sources. The measure would also have instructed the agency to ignore the Supreme Court decision last year that requires the EPA to regulate carbon as a pollutant under the Clean Air Act. The amendment ultimately failed by a vote of 53-47, despite support from six Democrats – Evan Bayh of Indiana, Mary Landrieu of Louisiana, Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor of Arkansas, Ben Nelson of Nebraska and Jay Rockefeller of West Virginia.
In the meantime, neither Romney nor Paul believe in climate change, nor does a majority in the House and a cloture-proof (and likely majority) coalition in the Senate. The President can't sign bills that don't get to his desk.

To the best of my knowledge, there is no possible way at all for citizens to directly effect electoral reform - they must rely on lawmakers, that is, their Senators and Congressmen, to pass laws to change the current electoral system.

Do citizens not directly effect lawmakers by voting for them at the various levels of government? This is still circular, but at least we keep moving it down from the national level.

Perhaps I'm wrong - can you give me examples of electoral change coming from below?

Apart from the Debs example you yourself gave? For starters, there's the state-level voting restrictions being enacted by Republicans all over. Same with anti-abortion and personhood laws and referendums. There's the school boards pushing creationism in municipalities and the states. There's gay marriage, both recognition and denial. There's even strong legalization of marijuana pushes in several states.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:45 PM on January 25, 2012


We're not arguing about that - we're arguing about this next phrase:

> You don't like your Democrat, then work with another.

But there aren't any others. Literally, I will never get a Democratic candidate in my district who will ever say, "War is bad", or "Maybe we should legalize pot," or "Maybe the President should obey the law under all circumstances."


This is undoubtedly false, because at the very least you could be that candidate.

50 * 2 year Congressional cycle = 100 years. I expect to be long dead by then. Senatorial or Presidential cycle? We're talking centuries.

So now pessimism and cynicism are valid excuses? What if your hard work payed off after 4 or 6 or 8 years? And even if it doesn't, you can't be so slef-centered as to believe that you didn't make a difference. Do you think Debs gave a shit about that?

That is right, working with the party does not work.

Does "go another way" mean support third-party candidates? That's what I'm actually proposing, yes?


Not exactly. You're proposing that we punish those at the top before we even begin to work to change those at the bottom.

I'm not sure, though, what "start from the bottom again" would really mean. It's hard to get more "the bottom" than third-party candidates. I've been involved with third-party candidates and there's an awful lot of getting your neighbors involved and shaking the hands of a thousand strangers.

The bottom is whatever level (neighborhood, city, state, whatever) that you didn't manage to effect change in.

Under a Democratic President, Eugene Debs was incarcerated for ten years for simply speaking out in general terms against WWI. If there's one person who exemplifies the "progressive third-party candidate", it's Debs.

Yeah, totally missing the point there, which was that he tried the system at a micro-level, saw it didn't work, and tried to change it. Every time he succeeded, he moved up a level until he was operating at the macro-level. That's how Debs did it.
posted by zombieflanders at 12:56 PM on January 25, 2012


Whomever is in favor of carbon taxes. Kent Mesplay is one.

Awesome. I look forward to the Mesplay Administration getting all this sorted out.
posted by octobersurprise at 12:58 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


While first-past-the-post systems tend towards the dominance of two parties, which two parties is not set in stone. There is a well-understood dynamic of party succession, which we saw in the 19th Century in the US (Republicans displacing Whigs in the US), the 20th Century (Labour displacing Liberals in the UK), and in early the 21st century we may be seeing it Canada (NDP displacing Liberals). The key is that the aspirant party must be willing to let what it sees as the greater of two evils win an election or two in order to win its place as one of the two dominant parties. (In other words, if there is to be an NDP Prime Minister in Ottawa in the near future, Harper's second premiership will be part of the price for that ascension.) What does not work in this effort is standalone campaigns for President that do not have masses of equally serious state and Congressional candidates behind them ... those campaigns are or threaten to be spoilers, without any party-building benefit.
posted by MattD at 1:01 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


You want 3rd parties to win? Start having them deliver services to the local people.

Court watching, filing criminal charges VS public officials with the grand jury when they violate law, even showing up at shelters and helping.

Plenty can be done without needing deep pockets/tax money as a source of payoffs/payment for services.
posted by rough ashlar at 1:26 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Uh Oh. At the 08 GP Convention, Mesplay came in fourth to nominee Cynthia McKinney. I hope that doesn't unduly affect his chances to become President. In his favor, though, I see that he was prepared to contest DiFi's Senate seat and run against the Republican with the best most Republican name ever: Dick Mountjoy.
posted by octobersurprise at 1:27 PM on January 25, 2012


rough ashlar: "You want 3rd parties to win? Start having them deliver services to the local people.

Court watching, filing criminal charges VS public officials with the grand jury when they violate law, even showing up at shelters and helping.

Plenty can be done without needing deep pockets/tax money as a source of payoffs/payment for services.
"

That's pretty much how Hamas and Islamic Brotherhood get their popularity, I think...
posted by symbioid at 1:40 PM on January 25, 2012


Speaking of Debs and third parties, Wisconsin has a long history of 3rd parties, mostly Socialist:
In the early 20th century, the Socialist Party of America had a base in Milwaukee. The phenomenon was referred to as "sewer socialism" because the elected officials were more concerned with public works and reform than with revolution (although revolutionary socialism existed in the city as well). Its influence faded in the late 1950s, largely because of the red scare and racial tensions.[53] The first Socialist mayor of a large city in the United States was Emil Seidel, elected mayor of Milwaukee in 1910; another Socialist, Daniel Hoan, was mayor of Milwaukee from 1916 to 1940; and a third, Frank P. Zeidler, from 1948–1960. Socialist newspaper editor Victor Berger was repeatedly elected as a U.S. Representative, although he was prevented from serving for some time because of his opposition to the First World War.
And of course, there was the Progressive Party's Fighting Bob LaFollette, who won 17% of the vote, third only to Teddy Roosevelt (27%) and Perot (19%) for 3rd party runs.
posted by desjardins at 1:42 PM on January 25, 2012


I donno if Ron Paul would roll back all our abuses of civil liberties if he were president. There is about no chance he could beat Obama anyways so it doesn't much matter. Yet, if the Republicans nominated him, then our presidential debates would turn heavily on drug policy and civil liberties where he'd frankly obliterate Obama, perhaps dragging Obama back towards sanity.

Ron Paul: Marijuana's OK now, but you don't have to sell it to black people if you don't want to.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:44 PM on January 25, 2012


Also, while I'm a big believer in change starting at the local and state level, it doesn't really apply here 'cause weed is in the federal bailiwick. States and localities have been pulling their weight here, but it adds up to zip.
posted by Benny Andajetz at 2:50 PM on January 25, 2012


That's pretty much how Hamas and Islamic Brotherhood get their popularity, I think...

I think their constituents appreciated both the warlike and peaceful sides of their personalities.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:10 PM on January 25, 2012


Also, while I'm a big believer in change starting at the local and state level, it doesn't really apply here 'cause weed is in the federal bailiwick. States and localities have been pulling their weight here, but it adds up to zip.

Right, but marijuana legalization and the power of third parties are two separate issues. If third parties could truly pull their weight in elections, then that would be a fairly sharp and heavy stick to beat on the noses of both parties. As it stands, there's little incentive for the mainstream Ds or Rs to budge on the issue, especially on a national scale, since it's a divisive issue about which those much-needed independents feel strongly.
posted by Sticherbeast at 3:13 PM on January 25, 2012


Ron Paul is a perfect example, btw of local elections paying big dividends. He's a representative of one district in texas, and he's leveraged it over a few decades into a national profile. Alan Grayson was another one. We just need more people like them in congress. Contrarians who don't owe anybody anything. Forget pissing away meaningless votes on a presidential candidate who will never win. You can genuinely elect someone in your own district if you start right now.
posted by empath at 3:13 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Ron Paul is a perfect example, btw of local elections paying big dividends. He's a representative of one district in texas, and he's leveraged it over a few decades into a national profile. Alan Grayson was another one. We just need more people like them in congress. Contrarians who don't owe anybody anything. Forget pissing away meaningless votes on a presidential candidate who will never win. You can genuinely elect someone in your own district if you start right now.

Too many districts are way too gerrymandered for that.

Anyway, the reason Ron Paul has a national following is because he ran for national office and found an audience willing to support him even if he didn't have much of a shot. Grayson got booted out of office for his efforts.

It doesn't really matter if you put the D or R next to your name or not in the end, it matters if you can convince people to support you.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:29 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, yeah, that's democracy. But you're a lot more likely to get elected with a non-mainstream candidate in a smaller district.
posted by empath at 3:38 PM on January 25, 2012


I fail to see why anyone is surprised by this deletion. Obamas people did the same thing on change.org. legalization was the number one "we want this changed" thing, and they deleted it as soon as they were sure they had the votes. I'm almost positive there was a thread about it at the time, but mobile makes it a pain to go find and link it.

People keep thinking that Obama is a liberal, despite ALL the evidence to the contrary. I know we *want* him to be one, but he isn't. He is a centrist who leans more right than left. He only looks liberal in comparison to the loonies being proposed by the Kochpubicans.

I know we all thought he was our guy, and he's better than the alternatives, but he's not going to enact any sweeping liberal policy changes no matter how many times he gets elected.
posted by dejah420 at 3:41 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's cheaper to run the campaign, yeah, but that doesn't make it any easier to convince committed party folks to vote for you or else these districts would swing back and forth based on which party wants to spend more that year.

I'd prefer the more diverse national electorate.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:41 PM on January 25, 2012


I like the message is "people believe it is inappropriate" which doesn't even identify which "people" let alone what criteria they use to decide what is appropriate.

I sort of get you don't want to put this on the web and have 4chan upvote a bunch of questions about anal sex and reptilians. But it undermines it as a channel of democratic communication if certain policies are treated as unquestionable.
posted by RobotHero at 3:47 PM on January 25, 2012 [1 favorite]


The internet isn't representative of the country, it is representative of the people willing and able to show up and vote online.

I don't personally see that as a less valid sample than people willing and able to register to show up at the local senior center on a Tuesday once in a while.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 3:54 PM on January 25, 2012


zombieflanders:

At this point I have to believe you either aren't reading what I write, or are deliberately misinterpreting it. :-(

> Yeah, totally missing the point there, which was that he tried the system at a micro-level, saw it didn't work, and tried to change it. Every time he succeeded, he moved up a level until he was operating at the macro-level. That's how Debs did it.

As I have made clear, I have no problem whatsoever with starting at a microlevel and working up. My claim, like Eugene's Debs', is that this is impossible within the two major parties.

Yes on the "moving up from the microlevel" - no to the Democratic Party. Is this clear now?

And yes, this has been tried and it has failed over and over again - most recently in the 2008 campaign where literally millions of progressives went door to door, gave their all to the Democratic Party - and were left completely in the cold with the lines of communication cut from the other side the moment the election is won.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 5:33 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


Who is a remotely viable leftist third party candidate for president?

Jill Stein. If you mean 'viable' as in 'will win this very election'-- well, no. But I refuse to let the Democrats hold my vote hostage while advocating policies that range from occasionally decent to mostly very stupid to not-so-occasionally murderous. The die-hard Dems can argue with my decision until they're blue in the face, and I welcome their disagreement, but it certainly won't change my mind until the facts on the ground change.

It'd be a lie to say that any way out from here isn't going to be a real shit sandwich; unfortunately, we're going to have to start eating a little shit now to save the next decades from an avalanche. If it's going to take a few cycles of Republican dominance to shock the centrist 'left' into regrouping around policies that will stop the imminent destruction of the earth and all its people, that's a pill I'm more than willing to swallow.
posted by threeants at 5:46 PM on January 25, 2012


I really wish Vicente Fox and other politicians who come out in favor of decriminalization/legalization AFTER they leave office had the guts to act on those ideas while they are IN office.

The Liberal Party of Canada just had a convention where they passed a resolution for the legalization and regulation of marijuana. They're not in power, but at least people are talking about it.
posted by emeiji at 8:23 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


People keep thinking that Obama is a liberal, despite ALL the evidence to the contrary.

Drug legalization has never been a liberal policy.
posted by empath at 9:21 PM on January 25, 2012


It's funny. This post really isn't about legalization, though it's the main topic of discussion (as others have mentioned).

It's about the fact that some issues are not even "appropriate" for consideration or discussion.

It's fine to take the position that marijuana should remain illegal AND Schedule I, but you'd better have a damn good explanation why (good luck finding one).

Disabling comments on YouTube is often considered the last refuge of the truly shameless, but this behavior is far worse. It's almost a little evil, Google.

You can't make or enforce laws and not discuss them. That's unpatriotic.

Make Marijuana Legal For Medical Purposes: Help Put Marijuana Reschedule Petition Before President Obama

Start with perhaps the most ridiculous (and non legislative - Obama could reschedule cannabis with one phone call) problem: marijuana should not be a Schedule I drug.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:18 PM on January 25, 2012 [2 favorites]


have 4chan upvote a bunch of questions about anal sex and reptilians

If there are laws against anal sex or reptilians, though, those questions become a lot more valid.
posted by mrgrimm at 10:19 PM on January 25, 2012


Maybe legalization does have 50% support. Still, 50% + status quo > 50%. Frankly, I really doubt Obama has never "seriously considered" it. Just publicly. I tend to think that he's run the numbers and does not consider it a a fight he wants to pick at this time, regardless of his opinions. The thing is that framing it as an "inappropriate" question allows him to ignore it. He's certainly not coming out in favor of it, but he doesn't have to come out against it, either. Which means that, say a year from now, he can quietly and suddenly shift course without consequence.

It's optimistic, I admit, but I don't think it's crazy. It's Obama we're talking about. I think it fits his style.
posted by alexei at 11:20 PM on January 25, 2012


Yes, it is crazy.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 11:25 PM on January 25, 2012


It's more likely that he'll pull out a phat blunt and light it up while giving his inaugural speech in 2013.
posted by Burhanistan at 11:30 PM on January 25, 2012


Too many districts are way too gerrymandered for that.

So they're solidly democratic? Sounds like a real live socialist might just stand a chance.

Or do you mean they're solidly republican? Well, throw 'em off with a Ron Paul type. At the very least, it'll make for a more interesting debate.
posted by alexei at 11:59 PM on January 25, 2012


On the original topic, the simple deletion of questions Obama didn't want to answer, there's more!

Apparently his staff has also been deleting questions about NDAA and PIPA.

Obama is apparently of the position that it's fine to arrest snatch people from the streets and toss them into prison forever, without a warrant, without charges, on nothing but the say so and authority of one single person. But the public asking questions about that is not fine.

Similarly it's fine to break the DNS, demolish the internet, and impose a Chinese style regime of censorship on America. But asking questions about that is not fine.

I suppose the latter two grow naturally from the earlier decision that it's fine to ruin lives, demolish careers, waste billions, and toss people into prison in the name of the War on Drugs. But it isn't fine to question whether or not that's a good policy.

This isn't what I had in mind when I voted for hope and change.
posted by sotonohito at 6:17 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


As I have made clear, I have no problem whatsoever with starting at a microlevel and working up. My claim, like Eugene's Debs', is that this is impossible within the two major parties.

The question isn't whether or not it's impossible, it's whether or not you actually tried. And as your next paragraph makes absolutely clear, you're still of the mind that you give a token try and then throw up your hands.

Yes on the "moving up from the microlevel" - no to the Democratic Party. Is this clear now?

And yes, this has been tried and it has failed over and over again - most recently in the 2008 campaign where literally millions of progressives went door to door, gave their all to the Democratic Party - and were left completely in the cold with the lines of communication cut from the other side the moment the election is won.


So you tried once four years ago? Have you been working from the bottom up ever since? Did you talk to candidates in your primaries? Did you volunteer and vote for the ones who agreed with you? If they failed, did you try again? If they succeeded, did you move up to the next level of governance and do the same? If nobody earned your vote, did you try running yourself, or encouraging someone you knew to do so?

Politics is almost never transformed in one election, or two, and often times not for many elections. It may not be done in your lifetime, but them's the breaks. Debs was aware of that, as were many other progressives, socialists, communists, and other liberal groups. If you're unwilling to become part of that process and stay at it through thick or thin, then perhaps it's not the thing for you. But if you give up on the local process and take your frustration out at the national level, then you're missing the point entirely. Doing so when the only other option is 10x as crazy and destructive to most of what you believe in doesn't send a message to anyone. It just means you were willing to accept the worst of two evils to prove a point to internet boards.

It'd be a lie to say that any way out from here isn't going to be a real shit sandwich; unfortunately, we're going to have to start eating a little shit now to save the next decades from an avalanche. If it's going to take a few cycles of Republican dominance to shock the centrist 'left' into regrouping around policies that will stop the imminent destruction of the earth and all its people, that's a pill I'm more than willing to swallow.

I'm sorry, you actually think a few cycles of Republican dominance will save us from the imminent destruction of the earth and all it's people? Are you kidding me? These are the people whose starting point with at least one nuclear power (Iran) and likely two (N Korea) is "bomb bomb bomb," who want to destabilize another region made entirely of nuclear powers (India/Pakistan/China), believe that human-caused climate change isn't real, worship oil companies and consider any source of alternative power to be socialist, and would gladly accelerate any greenhouse gas emissions just to piss off liberals. Believing that that's somehow saving the planet? That's definitely magical thinking.
posted by zombieflanders at 6:55 AM on January 26, 2012 [2 favorites]


You guys know that Obama already answered petitions on pot legalization and the NDAA and SOPA/PIPA, right?

These are just petitions that are re-asking questions which have already been answered. Do you want him to keep answering the same questions every week?
posted by empath at 8:18 AM on January 26, 2012


Also:

Note: President Obama and the White House are not responsible for question selection and will not see the questions that will be asked prior to the interview.

Someone at youtube is doing this, or it's an automated process caused by people reporting questions.
posted by empath at 8:21 AM on January 26, 2012


@empath wrote "These are just petitions that are re-asking questions which have already been answered. Do you want him to keep answering the same questions every week?"

Until he gets the right answer, yes.

More to the point, asking the same questions forces him to be aware that his positions on those issues are not acceptable.

And, finally, he hasn't addressed those issues.

He laughed at the very concept of legalizing marijuana, that's not really an answer. And he gave a pre-packaged meaningless "my signing statement was awesome" type answer to NDAA.

How about he actually takes the time to address our concerns in a serious manner?
posted by sotonohito at 8:31 AM on January 26, 2012 [1 favorite]


You act like legalizing pot was his idea. He's not going to do it, and moreover, he can't do it. Youtube is not a branch of government, either. Congress needs to do it, and there are treaties that need to be renegotiated.

If you want to legalize pot, vote for congressmen that want to legalize pot.
posted by empath at 8:35 AM on January 26, 2012


(err... that making pot illegal was his idea)
posted by empath at 8:36 AM on January 26, 2012


You guys know that Obama already answered petitions on pot legalization and the NDAA and SOPA/PIPA, right?

He didn't answer anything. An administration flunkie gave a boilerplate answer filled with misinformation and, to be polite, untruths, and said flunkie never addressed questions about the economic and social costs of the drug war that were brought up in said petitions.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 10:10 AM on January 26, 2012 [4 favorites]


These are just petitions that are re-asking questions which have already been answered.

He has very briefly mentioned the undefined ill health effects of smoking marijuana, but his administration has not yet addressed at all eating baked/heated cannabis or using a vaporizer, just as one simple example.

His administration has also not addressed the many studies that demonstrate a medical use of cannabis. Ever had bad nausea? Try it.

So how on Earth can the DEA deny a petition to remove marijuana from the list of Schedule I Controlled Substances? !!!

Requirements are very clear:

1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse. - Proven untrue
2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States - Proven untrue.
3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. - Proven untrue

And you can't say here that Obama doesn't make the laws or he can't do anything about it. Obama and Eric Holder could reschedule marijuana as Schedule II, along with cocaine, morphine, and opium (addictive enough for you?), in about 10 minutes.

They have no excuse. I hope they are ashamed of their non-action.

President Obama Makes Case Against His Own Medical Marijuana Policy During SOTU Address

From the state of the union address: "Today, the discoveries taking place in our federally-financed labs and universities could lead to new treatments that kill cancer cells but leave healthy ones untouched."

Oh really? How about a direct quote from CANNABINOIDS: POTENTIAL ANTICANCER AGENTS (PDF) in fucking Nature Reviews Cancer?!

"Cannabinoids are selective antitumour compounds, as they can kill tumour cells without affecting their non-transformed counterparts"

I swear there are some days I wish I were living in Bizarro World.

I mean, if you read that second link (DEA deny) above, you'll read that:

"... the 21st annual symposium of the International Cannabinoid Research Society, which is sponsored in part by the National Institute on Drug Abuse and Elsohly Laboratories, the federal government's only licensed source of research-grade marijuana, and an array of pharmaceutical companies interested in asking the government to reschedule organic THC so they can sell a generic version of Marinol, which is now produced synthetically."

So ... the federal government is using our tax money to partially fund research into medical marijuana as a product ... while at the same time denying serious patients in need the right to grow and consume their own? Got it.

Calgon, take me away ...
posted by mrgrimm at 10:30 AM on January 26, 2012 [3 favorites]


Sometimes, Jesse Ventura gets elected

Ugh. Don't remind me.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 11:01 AM on January 26, 2012


"These are just petitions that are re-asking questions which have already been answered. Do you want him to keep answering the same questions every week?"

I think this one is still awaiting an answer.

So they're solidly democratic? Sounds like a real live socialist might just stand a chance.

You don't get many chances because incumbents do so well but you could replace every Democratic congressperson with a more liberal version and still be stuck in the two party gridlock anyway.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 2:26 PM on January 26, 2012


There will never be electoral reform as long as we are controlled by this two-party system.

Late derail, but still relevant to the discussion, I suppose.

I think it is definitely possible to affect reform by changing election rules. I mean, states make those rules, right. They assign delegates anyway they want.

Instant Runoff Voting is one example. The more IRV succeeds at a local level, the more likely it moves up the chain.

Just that change, for one, would make all arguments about "wasting your vote" on a non-Democratic/GOP candidate totally moot, and (imo of course) drastically alter the content of political discourse in the country for the better.

Instead we get bizarro world.
posted by mrgrimm at 8:16 AM on January 27, 2012


Just fyi, there is evidence that strategic voting made possible by Arrow's Theorem becomes less problematic as the number of winners increases. I.e. IRV by district rocks, but STV across all districts simultaneously obliterates it. You might for-example use a signle ranked ballot for an entire state, electing several representatives from that one ballot.
posted by jeffburdges at 11:57 AM on January 27, 2012


Update - Obama’s Opportunity: Will the White House Snub Marijuana Yet Again?
posted by rodmandirect at 5:27 AM on January 30, 2012


Requirements are very clear:

1. The drug or other substance has a high potential for abuse. - Proven untrue
2. The drug or other substance has no currently accepted medical use in treatment in the United States - Proven untrue.
3. There is a lack of accepted safety for use of the drug or other substance under medical supervision. - Proven untrue


It's going back to court this year.
posted by empath at 6:23 AM on January 30, 2012 [1 favorite]


It's going back to court this year.

Yep. I am familiar with Mr. Elford, so I'm far too well versed in the details and arguments. The job must require a high tolerance for frustration. I'll be happy when we FINALLY get our day in court.
posted by mrgrimm at 7:38 AM on January 30, 2012


Here's what Snoop has to say.

But Snoop, why?

"because I said so"
posted by BigSky at 8:32 AM on January 30, 2012


Update - Obama’s Opportunity: Will the White House Snub Marijuana Yet Again?

Yes.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:32 PM on January 30, 2012


While the president did find time to talk about a whole host of less weighty questions, including ones about late-night snacks, dancing and his tennis skills, a response to a top-rated question submitted by Stephen Downing, the retired deputy chief of police in Los Angeles, was conspicuously absent.
posted by furiousxgeorge at 10:34 PM on January 30, 2012


Why is Obama So Chicken, Unwilling to Even Address the Question of Pot and the Failed Drug War?
posted by mrgrimm at 8:39 AM on February 1, 2012


NYPD murder teen in his own home over small amount of pot
posted by homunculus at 11:36 AM on February 9, 2012 [1 favorite]


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