The "War on Drugs" cost Gore the election.
November 13, 2000 10:31 PM   Subscribe

The "War on Drugs" cost Gore the election. "In a stroke of divine justice, it turns out he [Gore] might have easily won Florida had it not been for the felony disenfranchisement laws that disproportionately strip the vote from African-American men," said Sanho Tree, director of the drug policy project of the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington. "Let's hope he ponders this long and hard while he waits for the recount."
posted by lagado (18 comments total)
yeah, we know
posted by palegirl at 10:40 PM on November 13, 2000

doh, missed it
posted by lagado at 10:46 PM on November 13, 2000

I'm glad you reposted this, anyway, cause this whole time I thought it was Nader's fault.
posted by Doug at 8:09 AM on November 14, 2000

Not that this argument makes any sense. It's like saying Gore lost because all the people who committed suicide in Florida couldn't vote. He didn't help pass a law against suicide, and people with suicidal tendencies voted 99% democratic. Therefore, if those people hadn't chosen to commit suicide, he'd have gotten their votes and won.

Leaving aside the rather risky logic here (do people who commit felonies have a high voter turnout?), those felons knew (or should have known; ignorance of the law is not a defense) that committing a felony would mean losing the right to vote. It's their own fault for choosing to commit the crime. It's not Gore's fault for helping to pass a law. Those people chose to break the law and thus deserve the punishment meted out.
posted by CRS at 8:45 AM on November 14, 2000

CRS, why should someone be denied the right to vote just because they grew a couple of pot plants in the basement?

Give me a good reason that this felon shouldn't be allowed to vote.
posted by snakey at 9:03 AM on November 14, 2000


The reason is that person broke the law. Now suppose the statutory punishment for growing a couple of pot plants in the basement is classified as a felony. If you commit a felony in Florida, part of your punishment is losing the right to vote. It's that simple. The felon knew the potential penalty if he/she was caught and committed the crime anyway.

If the people don't think this is fair, then they should lobby their representatives in the state legislature to overturn that part of the punishment.
posted by CRS at 11:19 AM on November 14, 2000

Well, I spose if felons had been able to vote, the headlines would have read: "Gore Elected President Thanks to Large Felon Vote". How's that for a mandate!
posted by leo at 11:34 AM on November 14, 2000

CRS, I don't think that 'because it's the law' qualifies as a good reason. In this case, the law is wrong.
posted by snakey at 12:32 PM on November 14, 2000

snakey: Whether the punishment for committing a felony is wrong or not is not our decision (unless you're a Florida resident). That decision is to be made by a majority of Florida's citizens.
posted by CRS at 1:41 PM on November 14, 2000

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the decision to disenfranchise drug offenders was made by rich white politicians who haven't been disproportionately affected by the war on drugs.
posted by snakey at 1:48 PM on November 14, 2000

Perhaps, but it's the people who vote to lower the punishment for drug offenses (as we did in California: California Proposition 36: Drugs. Probation and Treatment Program), that can (hopefully) prevent this disenfranchisement.
posted by megnut at 2:02 PM on November 14, 2000

So are all non-violent drug offenses no longer considered felonies in CA?

From the looks of it, prop. 36 doesn't apply to 'manufacture', so wouldn't growing a couple of pot plants still land you in the joint? (I couldn't resist)
posted by snakey at 2:22 PM on November 14, 2000

Come on, snakey. I don't want to get into an argument with you about the personal responsibility issues involved in drug offenses. I was just pointing out that disenfranchisement was part of the statutory punishment for felons.
posted by CRS at 2:23 PM on November 14, 2000

Other democracies don't disenfrancise people for life just because they have committed a crime. This is petty and ridiculous.

The fact here is that poor and working class people have a higher chance of committing minor crimes than middle class people. More importantly they have a higher likelihood of being prosecuted or imprisoned for them than middle class people. This is the nature of social inequality, it is not solved by applying even more punitive laws.

This demographic is also part of the Democrats' support base. The supreme irony is that their own stupid, punitive laws are disenfranchising their voting population.
posted by lagado at 3:25 PM on November 14, 2000

CRS, this story isn't about personal responsibility so much as it is about a racist drug war. When drug felons account for over one third of the prison population; most of them behind bars in the name of a drug war that disproportionately targets Blacks and Latinos, I find your attitude of 'that's the law, so deal with it' extremely shortsighted. It's not hard to see that the drug war has weakened the voting power of Black and Latino communities.

Personally, I'd take issue with the story on the grounds that most of the nonviolent drug offenders would have voted for Ralph Nader, the candidate who opposed the drug war.
posted by snakey at 3:34 PM on November 14, 2000

Ralph Nader, the candidate who opposed the drug war.

That's a candidate who opposed the drug war.
posted by kindall at 5:29 PM on November 14, 2000

sorry, Harry Browne was in there with half a percent, too. I'm sure he would have stolen a few votes from Nader.
posted by snakey at 8:27 AM on November 15, 2000

Anything that cost Gore the election is good, since he couldn't beat the biggest moron in U.S. presidential candidate history.Kudos to all those Florida Nader voters and to everyone who voted for Harry Browne.
posted by Mr. skullhead at 11:19 AM on November 15, 2000

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