Politics

Why the Tea Party Should Oppose the Drug War

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Writing at National Review, Harvard economist Jeffrey Miron argues that if the Tea Party movement wants to get serious about limiting government, it must oppose the drug war:

Voter dissatisfaction with Republicans and Democrats is at historic levels, and the tea-party movement is hoping to play kingmaker in the November elections. The country's current breed of discontent is ideal for the tea parties, because economic concerns are foremost, allowing the movement to sidestep the divisions between its libertarian and conservative wings.

As the elections near, however, voters will want to know where the party stands not just on the economy but on social issues. A perfect illustration is drug policy, where conservatives advocate continued prohibition but libertarians argue for legalization. Which way should the tea party lean when this issue arises?

If the party is true to its principles — fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets — it must side with the libertarians.

Read the whole thing here. And click below to watch Jeffrey Miron discuss his new book Libertarianism From A to Z with Reason.tv:

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  1. The Tea Party movement does not aim to limit government, just benefits for people they don’t like.

    Medicare/medicaid, Social Security, and Defense spending are sacred to them, because they’re essentially Republicans in disguise now.

    1. Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, “defense” spending, and interest on the national debt are nearly the entirety of the federal budget. If you ain’t in favor of cutting those, you ain’t in favor of cutting federal spending, you’re just in favor of nibbling a bit at the growth of it.

      1. Medicare/medicaid, Social Security, and Defense spending are sacred to them

        It’s “sacred” to them because it’s their money that’s being used to pay for them. Yes, seniors want to be able to get the benefits they paid in to, what’s wrong with that?

        1. See above for what is wrong with that. You CAN’T significantly cut the federal budget without cutting those things. And we are talking about tea party, not the AARP.

        2. because they didn’t ‘pay into’ anything. they paid for the beneficiaries.

          1. The certainly did “pay in to them”. They paid in to a system that was supposed to help support them when they retired. I’m not condemning them because they want to get what they paid for.

            I agree that the current path for these entitlements is unsustainable, and cuts will need to be made in terms of extending the retirement age and increasing the amount paid in, but the Tea Party folks have a viable argument that other insane budget expenditures (like C4C, TARP, Homeowners tax credit) should be whacked prior to these particular budgetary needs.

  2. Two thoughts

    (1) Mr. Miron is, of course, right.

    (2) We’ll see the Devil ice-skating first.

    1. Yup. A snowball’s chance in hell (to extend RC’s metaphor) that the tea party cranks will get behind legalization. Hippies smoke that shit, don’t you know!

      1. Damn straight! Now, where da white wimmins at?

  3. just benefits for people they don’t like.

    You gotta start somewhere.
    Wouldn’t foreign military bases defending ungrateful auslanders and Medicaid be “benefits for people they don’t like” ?

    1. Yes, you do have to start somewhere, but do you honestly believe the republicans would cut entitlement and military spending? honestly? dont be fooled by the repubs this November, the republicans just want money spent on other things for their own interests, they have no interest in actually cutting the deficit.

      1. It really doesn’t matter what Dems or Reps like. Both will end up cutting entitlement spending whether they like it or not.

        1. I sure as hell hope you’re right about that — will they really be forced into it before it’s too late? are they able to stand up to the special interests and get it done?

  4. There is no tea party. Just a bunch of wannabe pols that make shit up as they go along. There’s a group of people pissed off about tarp spending, stimulas spending, future Obamacare spending, etc but getting all those people together on a more comprehensive agenda would thin the ranks to the point where their no longer relevant.

    1. I think that this about says it. I get the feeling that all of the national level people who claim to speak for the tea party are full of shit and just being opportunistic. The tea parties are protests about specific issues and not a coherent political movement of any sort.

      1. The Tea Party movement doesn’t have any principles. It’s just a typically incoherent populist movement that will collapse when most of the members (Republicans) get back into power and act like typical nanny state tyrants. And liberals will go back to protesting wars and civil liberties violations. Just the typical cycle of shills, which is why the movement has zero appeal to me.

        1. Word. Now if they were the Long Island Iced Tea Party…..

    2. Yes to that and no to Damon Root. The Tea Parties, if they know what’s good for them, had better not try to impose or adopt a stance on social issues.

  5. If the party is true to its principles ? fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets ? it must side with the libertarians.

    Who says those are the Tea Party principles? Those are the things the Tea Party bitches about when the Democrats are in power.

    1. Should the balance of power tip the other way, it will be interesting to see what direction the tea party moves in.

      1. I know. Of course the whole thing started when Bush was in office after TARP. Odd that they started bitching when Republicans were in power right before an election. Odd to that so many of them stayed home causing the Republicans to get destroyed. And of coruse before that there was Porkbusters whose main target seemed to be Murkowski and Trent Lott.

        People really do make up the past to fit their own prejudices.

        1. Republican turn-out was only down 1.3% in 2008 from 2004, so “many of them stayed home causing the Republicans to get destroyed” is a myth.

    2. Bush was still in power when the Tea Party sentiment exploded over TARP, on grounds of fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets .

      1. bullshit. the tea party movement started when that rick santilli guy on Msnbc with some rant about how he was angry at the obama adminstration. the only thing tea partiers crticize republicans about is pork spending. which isnt even a drop in the bucket when it comes to the deficit.

        1. But a lot of people protested against TARP in 08, they just didn’t call it the tea party. Further, pork, while not huge in numbers, is really important. They are just bribes.

        2. the tea party movement started when that rick santilli guy on Msnbc with some rant about how he was angry at the obama adminstration.

          No way. It goes back to the Ron Paul campaign. The rest of your statement I won’t argue with.

        3. When TARP was pending Congress was besieged with calls,emails,and letters against it. They weren’t all a bunch of liberals whining about a “bailout for Main Street” either. The first vote failed. Bush’s aproval rate dropped into the teens.

  6. At the very least it’s good to see these types of articles in NRO. It’s a start.

    1. National Review has been against the War on Drugs for years. They had a huge cover issue on it about 15 years ago, and it remains their editorial position that the War on Drugs is both a practical failure and injurious to civil liberties.

      1. Thacker, you are stepping on people’s prejudices.

        1. Great, so that means they are what, 2 for 15?

          1. No, they’ve pretty continuously reiterated their opposition to the policy. They don’t run a cover story about it every month, sure.

            It doesn’t make any difference, of course, because of the overall views of the electorate.

            1. I stand corrected, I didn’t realize they were.

              Also I know the Economist has come out in favor of legalization.

              They whole key of course to legalization is winning over conservative church goers.

              Tie ending the WoD with ending the nanny state, I think you will convince more people that you might expect. But you have to reach out and speak their language.

              Remember a lot of Christians are former druggies.

              1. and vice versa

  7. And ferrets. How do the teabaggers feel about ferrets? Should they continue to be officially oppressed by states like California while the local Petco has several aisles of ferret specific products? When will this madness end!

  8. I couldn’t disagree more. Being against the WOD may be part of the libertarian foundation, but the tea partiers are not necessarily libertarian. The MSM already hates their guts. We don’t need them to be further labeled with the “tinfoil hat” label that Libertarians currently own. Like it or not, the WOD is not nearly as loathed by mainstream America as it is by libertarians. Small steps…

    Cutting spending is the one thing all the tea partiers agree upon…and it’s one thing that many mainstream voters can resonate with. They should run on
    things like repealing Obamacare, and shoring up SS/Medicare with spending cuts and partial privitization.

    1. I think you are overestimating the general public’s love of the war on drugs. I’ll give you two to one California legalizes pot in November. But I do agree that broadening the Tea Party platform has dangers.

      1. I’m not sure I’d say they love the WOD, just that they generally take the “illicit drugs = bad” assumption and worry about other things.

        I think that medical marijuana is definitely gaining serious ground in the mainstream. I’d even say that recreational marijuana use is nearing the same acceptance as recreational alcohol, but that doesn’t mean that the public wants users and distributors of heroin, crack, meth, etc. to be decriminalized.

      2. I’ll give you two to one California legalizes pot in November.

        I would take those odds. I want the prop to win, but it’s a coin flip.

  9. The Republican Party is at a crossroads. The “Reagan Coalition” is dead, and anybody who thinks they can bring it back is fooling themselves (I’m looking in your direction as I say that, Sarah Palin.)

    They can be the party of Jesus-freaks and Wilsonian military adventurism, or they can be the party of small government. Both is no longer an option.

    There is no common enemy of International Communist Expansion to pull such strange bedfellows together anymore. I don’t think the Jesus Freaks or the Neo-Cons even MIND stimulus packages or health care reform, as evidenced by most of Bush’s years in office.

    If the GOP remains the GWB party, two things are likely to happen: 1) The Republicans will remain a minority party for the foreseeable future. 2) Most libertarians will continue to consider themselves party-less until some kind of major realignment happens.

    Neither is such a bad development. Divorced of Goldwater/Reagan Republicanism, libertarians become one of the “swing” voting blocks which both parties will need to vie for. It could result in a time of increased influence for fans of small government, including a lot of the people at Tea Party rallies.

    1. No. it will just result in the Demcorats contintuing to hold power and seeing themselves as a perminant minority.

      1. majority I mean.

    2. Divorced of Goldwater/Reagan Republicanism, libertarians become one of the “swing” voting blocks which both parties will need to vie for.

      Nope. Libertarians are outnumbered politically by “fiscally liberal, socially conservative” voters. When libertarians swing towards you, you often lose elections because of a greater number of people swinging against you.

    3. I don’t think the Jesus Freaks or the Neo-Cons even MIND stimulus packages or health care reform

      Dont mind? Social spending is a standard part of the neo-con package.

      1. It’s maddening that people don’t understand the origins and history of neo-conservativism.

        robc is correct in his assertation. The neo-con movement started as a backlash to the new left in the sixties, by the old left. I would call them Hamiltonian democrats, while others have called them paleo-liberals. Strong centralized power, especially executive power, foreign interventionalism, and support of the welfare state are the hallmarks of neo-conservatism.

        1. It is maddening that people think there are more than a “few neoconservatives” or that the term has any meaning whatsoever when applied to the broader public at large.

          Good for you for at least having some idea of what the term means. But bad for you for thinking it is in any way significant or the term is today anything more than a meaningless slur.

          The only reason “neo conservative” is such a bogieman to many libertarians is because radical libertarians are transnationalists whose aim is to destroy the nation state and the United States along with it.

          1. But bad for you for thinking it is in any way significant or the term is today anything more than a meaningless slur.

            I was going to state something similar, but was cooking some food and had to be brief.

            Essentially, the term is thrown around, mostly by the left, as a pejorative with ignorance to its meaning. Also, their seems to be ignorance of the fact that true neo-conservatism is more a niche philosophy than a mass movement.

            Most political labels are meaningless now anyways, though. The right and left are constantly reversing their stances(see: judicial “activism”)to score political points.

            Regarding transnationalism;

            Sure, I’d be all for it if I thought that a one world government would be more restricted in its powers than our own, but it won’t so I’m not.

            1. The question is academic. It is a slow process, but national governments must eventually coalesce into one, effectually, if not officially, regardless whether that is the result the people desire or not. The concept of authority comprises an unbalanced equation, and as such, its manifestation must continually follow an upward growth trajectory, for so long as it is regarded as a legitimate institution by the population at large.

              1. Peter Drucker wrote a book on the end of the nation-state, though he did not predict whether it would be replaced by larger or smaller political entities. There are strong arguments for either.

        2. support of the welfare state are the hallmarks of neo-conservatism.

          Support of the welfare state but “reformed.” A lot of the initial neocons were leftists who discovered that social science research and economics indicated that the Great Society programs weren’t really working as written.

          Neo-cons and neo-libs (and New Democrats) aren’t really that different. They do represent a centrist tendency in American politics.

          1. All communitarian scum.

    4. @Tara Davis

      I think you are confused. There are a LARGE amount of Christians that are very concerned about the size of the government. Moreover, the number of Christians far outnumber the number of libertarins.

      If you really want small government, the only you will get it is by getting the social conseratives behind you.

      A good start would be by dropping the deragtory name calling.

      1. If you really want small government, the only you will get it is by getting the social conseratives behind you.

        Those would be the social-cons who love the WoD, would it not?

  10. If the Tea Party movement wants to get serious about limiting government, it must oppose the drug war

    Nobody opposes the Drug War!

  11. Why the Tea Party Should Oppose the Drug War

    Because it’s a complete failure, a waste of money and an affront to liberty?

    Because it enriches unsavory characters and contributes to police corruption and abuse?

    Because it is turning outr inner cities into war zones where the police are viewed as an occupying army?

  12. If the party is true to its principles ? fiscal responsibility, constitutionally limited government, and free markets ? it must side with the libertarians.

    “The party”? There is no “party”. There is a large random sample of people incoherently pissed off about a bunch of different things, and there are a few opportunistic Republicans in drag trying to jostle their way to the front of the mob.

    And the “lesser of two evils” (Vote for Republican X!) drumbeat will commence shortly. And the drug war will continue unabated.

    1. Exactly. I don’t understand why people have such a hard time understanding that they did not arise as a group with some cohesive set of principles on every issue. They’re just a group of people who got together to oppose increased government spending and taxation. There is no platform, they’re just pissed off.

  13. sOunds like those idiots of the tea party have way too much spare time on their hands.

    Llu
    http://www.anonymity.it.tc

  14. Divorced of Goldwater/Reagan Republicanism, libertarians become one of the “swing” voting blocks which both parties will need to vie for. It could result in a time of increased influence for fans of small government, including a lot of the people at Tea Party rallies.

    It’s a nice thought, but not reality. Politicians will make promises, but so long as the electoral process is comprised of the two major parties small government will never get anything but lip service.

    1. but so long as the electoral process is comprised of the two major parties

      It has little to nothing to do with the “process” and the major parties. It has to do with the views of the electorate. The Drug War is broadly popular. Until that changes, we could have any sort of political parties or proportional representation or what have you, and it wouldn’t matter.

      It’s more likely to end the drug war through a secret cabal capturing one of the parties than through an actual mass political movement, at least at this time.

  15. The drug war is a dead political loser. Yeah it sucks. Yes it should be stopped. But there is about ten more years of education of the public to be done before it will start to be dismantled.

    1. I agree. But wouldn’t it better if that education could be led by tea partiers, than just Libertarians and stoners? Until the local businessmen, white blue and pink collar employees, church and charity leaders, and other “normal” Americans in your community get behind ending WOD then, sure, it’s a third rail in politics.
      There’s certainly nothing wrong with trying to get a debate on WOD going within the tea party circle.

      1. Yeah it would be. But right now few of those people oppose the drug war. I know it sucks. But that is how it is.

        1. Yeah, I always enjoy how my defense of liberty and fiscal sanity gets written off as an attempt to just legally smoke myself silly.

          1. Actually I think there are a LOT of users that just don’t bother to vote. If we could all get them to the voting booths…

  16. I understand the animosity towards govt. overreach, but as a movement the Tea Party is going to be stronger if it enhances its generational pull towards the middle aged and seniors. I don’t know how many of you have attended a Tea Party event, but a very large majority of us are white, older, and socially conservative. The “pot crowd” is NOT a group we can relate to. If we are going to be effective as a movement we need to focus on those most likely to show up in November. It also still stings that so called libertarians and other RINO’s left Bush and the GOP hanging in 2006 and again in 2008.

    You people talk a big game about “fighting for libertarianism” but at the end of the day you helped usher in an era of Big Govt. by not standing with the right team, as much as any Obamobot did.

    Here is some food for thought – instead of trying to get an ascendent movement to bend towards your ideology, maybe libertarians should drop some of the creepier items on their list (legal prostitution, drugs, gay marriage) and jump on the Tea Party ship. We’re actually going places and getting things done and as things are the Tea Party is America’s best hope.

    1. A+ Parody

    2. so called libertarians and other RINO’s

      If this is a spoof, well done.

    3. We’re not going to lectured by a racist militia loving dangerous Palin, thing… Racist.

    4. “The right team”

      Now that’s funny. I hate to break it to you, but we have been solidly in the era of big government for some time now.

      1. Depending on how you define big government, we’ve been in it for over a hundred years.

    5. The “pot crowd” is NOT a group we can relate to

      My guess is that the TP movement is rife with smokers, but folks that don’t live up to the stereotype of “pot crowd.”

    6. “Here is some food for thought – instead of trying to get an ascendent movement to bend towards your ideology, maybe libertarians should drop some of the creepier items on their list (legal prostitution, drugs, gay marriage) and jump on the Tea Party ship. We’re actually going places and getting things done and as things are the Tea Party is America’s best hope.”

      un-friggin-believable. yes, you “keep going places” with demonstrable fools like Palin, and keep calling tax-paying, law-abding citizens who happen to be gay “creepy.” THIS is why Obama’s in the WH.

  17. maybe libertarians should drop some of the creepier items on their list (legal prostitution, drugs, gay marriage) and jump on the Tea Party ship.

    Maybe you should SIUYA.

    1. I’ve never seen the SIUYA acronym before yet immediately understood it.

      Damn, I’m a coarse individual.

      1. same

        1. But is it ‘stick’ or ‘shove’?

  18. P Brooks – I don’t know what SIUYA means (I have a nephew who went to SIU-Carbondale) but I am guessing you favor legal prostitution, drugs, and gay marriage. I don’t think that many in the Tea Party actually care too much about these things. Even Rush Limbaugh’s wedding is going to be MC’d by Elton John, and Laura Bush has gay friends.

    The fact of the matter is that the Tea Party movement is made up largely of practical people, who only pursue potential REAL WORLD outcomes. Once we start adopting the “fantasy goals” of libertarianism we will not only be written off, but it will turn a lot of prospective future tea partiers off. Sometimes I get the impression that libertarians relish being “a man apart” and going against the grain. You look down on everyone – is this some sort of defense for not being able to accomplish as much as the Tea Party?

    1. Real world outcomes, like breaking the bank because taxpayers have to subsidize hundreds of thousands of nonviolent drug users and prostitutes in jail? Real world outcomes like the prohibitive expense of a gigantic immigration enforcement bureaucracy and the prosecution and deportation of 12 million residents and the prosecution of the owners of the businesses they work for? What about the expenses to subsidize the vast military-industrial complex and two wars overseas, not to mention the unaffordable bureaucracies required to attempt to prevent an event about as likely as getting struck by lightning (terrorism)?

      Nah, that’s not the “real world” and it’s not “practical” to criticize those things…

      1. Good points.

        I think that by “REAL WORLD” he means “Voter Potential.”

        Perhaps if they would get on board with some of the libertarian “fantasy goals” it just might raise public awareness on the issues.

        But then again, perhaps we should be careful what we ask for in that the less the word libertarian is associated with the Tea Party, the better?

  19. Tea?!

    Tea is for effete Europeans and their ever so daintily out stretched pinkies. Real Americans drink bourbon, dammit.

    So, get those balls off of your face, throw away your tri-cornered hat, and get a glass of bourbon (on the rocks if you like, but no cola, Nancy).

    Who needs medicare when your drunk? No one, that’s who.Knock back that kick’n chicken, and take the ride…I do my own home dentistry, like a real man!

    It’s time to take back America!! From who, I don’t know…but we don’t want it to fall into the hands of a bunch of tea drinkers, christ on a fucking pogo stick!

    1. ‘So, get those balls off of your face, throw away your tri-cornered hat, and get a glass of bourbon (on the rocks if you like, but no cola, Nancy).’

      best sentence i’ve read in a long time.

  20. “Sometimes I get the impression that libertarians relish being “a man apart” and going against the grain. You look down on everyone – is this some sort of defense for not being able to accomplish as much as the Tea Party?”

    Only sometimes?

  21. Minor note – the San Diego Zoo is actually privately owned and run. Considering the fact that it’s considered one of the best zoos in the world, it’s a great part of the argument in favor of private zoos.

    1. The Bronx Zoo beats the pandas off the San Diego, and is privately owned & run too. It’s on gov’t-owned land (so is the NY Botanical Garden across the road), but still….

  22. I met a Republican primary candidate for NJ-9th congressional district a couple of weeks ago. He said his main goal is reducing government. I asked him about ending the drug war. He said he had not thought of it much, but he’s 70% in favor of ending it, and that he will be all for ending it if he can be certain that doing so would reduce the government.

  23. If you don’t oppose prohibition and the drug war then you don’t believe in self ownership and if you don’t believe in self ownership you don’t believe in liberty. I don’t care how you try to cut it. You would think, however, that just out of practical/fiscal, cost/benefit considerations anyone would oppose the drug war.

  24. You know, it would be best if those who support liberty did not pussyfoot around with people who claim they believe in liberty (all of America, I would suppose) but do not. We have to stop pretending that there are just honest, differing views with respect to liberty and that there is honest disagreement. There are those who support liberty and those who do not. There are no gray areas and people who claim to support liberty and yet endorse and promote anti-liberty policies do not have the right to claim they support liberty.

    I don’t care if you are a lefty or a righty – if you have contempt for liberty then at least be upfront about it. Just say, no, I don’t think people own their own lives and yes, I think people are ultimately owned by their governments and their societies. This is what clouds the debate so much – everyone claims that they are for freedom when, in fact, most people are not and what they really want is for everyone to conform to the way they think things ought to be.

    1. well said. i hate the hypocrisy of

      I’m a First Amendment absolutist, but….

      I support the Second Amendment, but….

      the supposed belief is completely negated by that “but”

    2. Libertarians, being a guerrilla army, must take tactical advantage of any situation to further liberty. A few years ago that meant destroying the GOP. Now it means voting for them generally and more importantly helping the Tea Party dispose of the shits in the GOP that voted for TARP and other crapola. It’s either that or get off on your own sense of puritanism like Tulpa.

      1. Well, where do you draw the line in terms of the principles involved? Isn’t that what got us here – expediency and a willingness to compromise fundamental principles? It is obvious from the history of this country how slippery that slope is. Would there be anything recognizable about this country to the eyes of the founders? Does the country and the government bear even a remote resemblance to what they were creating? But my real point is this – that we don’t accept in others or ourselves the hypocrisy of claiming we are advocates of liberty while supporting policies which are specifically anti-liberty.

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