Drug Policy

Hillary Clinton's Kinder, Gentler War on Drugs Sounds Like Nixon's

The presumptive Democratic nominee promises to eliminate addiction once and for all.


Columbia University

Yesterday Hillary Clinton described the approach to drug policy she plans to take if she is elected president, and it looks a lot like Richard Nixon's. Despite his reputation as a hardline law-and-order demagogue who started the modern war on drugs, Nixon was big on drug treatment, and so is Clinton. Nixon drew a distinction between the addicts who deserve our compassion and the traffickers who belong in prison, and so does Clinton. Nixon expressed qualms about excessively harsh penalties for low-level drug offenders, and so does Clinton. Nixon had no doubts about the morality of using violence to stop people from consuming arbitrarily proscribed psychoactive substances, and neither does Clinton.

Clinton tries to present her war on drugs as a service to its targets:

Twenty-three million Americans suffer from addiction, but only 1 in 10 get treatment….

This is not new. We're not just now "discovering" this problem. But we should be saying enough is enough. It's time we recognize as a nation that for too long, we have had a quiet epidemic on our hands. Plain and simple, drug and alcohol addiction is a disease, not a moral failing—and we must treat it as such.

No doubt most drug offenders would prefer to be treated like patients rather than criminals. But in practice, they are treated like both. When Clinton says "our state and federal prisons…are no substitute for proper treatment," when she talks about "ensur[ing] every person suffering from addiction can obtain comprehensive treatment" and "prioritiz[ing] treatment over prison for low-level and nonviolent drug offenders," what she has in mind is, at best, giving consumers of politically incorrect intoxicants a choice between a treatment slot and a jail cell.

Despite Clinton's reference to "alcohol addiction," that is not a choice that even the heaviest drinker has to confront unless he commits a crime. Drinking itself, unlike the use of illegal drugs, does not qualify. A corollary is that even casual drug users with no addiction to treat may still have to choose between treatment and jail if they happen to get caught.

Clinton does not bother to defend this blatantly unequal approach, because it is indefensible. It is therefore hard to take seriously her pose as an enlightened, compassionate public servant who only wants to help "sick people that deserve to get well." This medicalization of drug policy may take some of the rough edges off the war on drugs (or not), but only at the cost of denying the moral agency of drug users, which justifies the government's shabby and often brutal treatment of them.

Clinton's conflation of coercive paternalism with voluntary medical treatment is especially troubling given her pie-in-the-sky ambitions. "There are 23 million Americans suffering from addiction," she writes. "But no one is untouched. We all have family and friends who are affected. We can't afford to stay on the sidelines any longer—because when families are strong, America is strong. Through improved treatment, prevention, and training, we can end this quiet epidemic once and for all."

If you elect Hillary Clinton, she will wipe out addiction. I'm not sure which is scarier: that Clinton thinks this hubristic mission will appeal to voters, or that if she is elected she might actually attempt it.

NEXT: Choosing Just the Right Word

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  1. I agree.

    We CAN’T just have people running around free, spouting transparent lies in a desperate bid to get their “fix” now can we, Hillary?

    1. Our next president, Hillary Clinton, is nothing but a lying, two faced crook. She belongs in jail, like most of our politicians and government crooks!

  2. No doubt most drug offenders would prefer to be treated like patients rather than criminals

    Actually most would rather the government just leave them the fuck alone and stop infantilizing everybody.

    1. Exactly this. Most don’t need jail or treatment and if they think they do they can arrange for it on their own rather than being marched to the $cha-ching treatment center of America at gunpoint.

    2. You see a boot on the neck. I see an opportunity to invest in drug treatment centers. The real debate is whether to pare down my investments in the Incarceration Industrial Complex.

    3. if those are the only two options, then… maybe. at least you get to smoke cigarettes (and from what i hear other combustibles as well) in prison. very, very, very false dichotomy though

  3. This is the 2nd time in two two days I’ve seen her compared to Nixon.

    1. Here’s the first


      1. -1 expletive

    2. This cartoon is from 2008:


      1. Her snoot is a hoot! I have a Richard now for nose-fucking Hillary! See what you have done!??!?! (No, you really do NOT want to see, TRUST me on THAT one!)

        1. Well, maybe, on second thought, I could settle for my “mucus vampire” fantasy, and suck the snot outta her Nixon-nose… But you might not want to see that, either, I suppose… Just a wild guess…

  4. Hillary left out an important fact. According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health:
    Summary of National Findings (http://tinyurl.com/ooejuwb), of those 23 million that public health officials have determined need treatment, only about 5% of those supposedly sick people actually agree that they need treatment. I think there might be a huge problem with how we decide if someone needs treatment.

    Also, does Hillary recommend blacks get 100x’s more treatment than whites…or maybe just 18x’s now that she’s a soft drug warrior?

    1. You miss the point. In the eyes of “public health officials,” any person who uses a controlled substance is, by definition, an “addict” or “substance abuser” in need of treatment. Even if you experimented with a joint one time in your life, and you were unfortunate enough to be arrested by the police on that one occasion, you are still a “substance abuser” in need of “treatment” as an alternative to criminal penalty.

      That is the Public Health Approach on Drugs. It is the War on Drugs with a condescending smile on its face rather than a grimace.

      1. No, I get it. Public health officials are the new moral zealots, disguising their intolerance in terms of health rather than religion. Living the longest life possible is the ultimate value, no matter how boring. Actions which were once considered private (drinking, smoking, drug use) are now contagious, and therefore are part of an “epidemic.” Epidemics require multi-billion dollar government plans, and jail if necessary.

      2. “That is the Public Health Approach on Drugs. It is the War on Drugs with a condescending smile on its face rather than a grimace.”

        …and who better to deliver the condescending smile than this fat ass. It’s one of her better skills.

      3. Yup, kinda like how many alcoholics who don’t drink anymore think anyone who drinks at all is an alcoholic.

    2. “I think there might be a huge problem with how we decide if someone needs treatment.”

      Exactly. It’s considered beyond cruel to force treatment on a person with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder if they aren’t a threat to themselves or others, but you can force just about any choice on an addict, and as long as it includes an option that isn’t prison, you’re incredibly compassionate. I used to have a problem with opiates, and I can’t tell you how many times they use that, “You chose to go to rehab,” line. If I stick a gun in your face, can I say you chose to give me your wallet? Because you could just let me shoot you. It wasn’t until I was actually allowed to make the decision on my own, that I was even able to start making changes.

  5. Why not let people do what they want to do, including both taking drugs and going to treatment if they think that’s what they need?

    There, problem solved.

    1. You want your face chewed off under a bypass? Some drugs are mind-wipers and zombie-makers…

      1. you of course realize that the only reason those synthetics even exist is 1) prohibition of pot, 2) loopholes where people can create alternatives that are not technically illegal (not sold as a drug, not registered and designated as a drug yet).

        i think we could agree to some level of limitation on the most dangerous of substances… but when we talk about drug offenders in this country, we are almost exclusively talking about pot… (though meth is growing… due to it being cheap, and can be made easier in the states… without having the additional hurdles with smuggling it in)

        prohibition of arbitrary, and largely harmless drugs is still the problem. the “bad” ones gain market share due to the fact that we make the “ok” ones hard to get…. and people will find a way to get high, if they want to.

        1. Amen! That was some good Foo_dd for thought, and ah approves of this message, it is “spot on”… The WOD is conducted by ideological idiots, with their pea-brains up their asses, and all smeared together with their shit!

          (I’ve had ENOUGH of yer shit!!! … slyly… Now can I have some of yer piss??? )

    2. That would be the best situation. Make drugs legal, regulated, and safe, and offer help when people are ready for it. But if you offer treatment to people who need it, someone is going to whine about where their tax dollars are going. And there are always moral crusaders on either side of the aisle looking for someone to blame. Addicts are easy targets. There are countless harmful stereotypes about us, we’re not allowed to speak for ourselves until we’ve conformed to the rules, and even then we’re portrayed as being weak and broken (Oh, no! No wine at this dinner, John used to have a coke problem.).

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  7. Drug ‘offenders’ are captive feedstock for public union constituencies in the social engineering industrial complex, hence Democrat ‘solutions’ will always incorporate a maintenance of that fact.

    1. Absolutely.

    2. I am addicted to individual freedom, do they have a (nannyistic) fix for MEEEE?!??!

  8. Clinton is a scam artist. As are Trump, Paul, Sanders, and all the rest of the blowhards.

    Scam artists who work within an even bigger scam, government itself.

    However, for most here and elsewhere:

    In your dreams Donald Trump is not a scam,
    In your dreams Sanders is not a scam,
    In your dreams all the rest are not a scam,
    “In your dreams Obama is not a scam,
    “In your dreams George Bush was not a scam,
    “In your dreams Clinton was not a scam,
    “In your dreams Reagan was not a scam,
    In your dreams, all the rest were not a scam”
    “In your dreams the constitution is not a scam,
    “In your dreams the Supreme Court is not a scam,”
    And so on and so forth, ad infinitum 🙂 .

    Original music and lyrics: “Dreams[ Hormegeddon Blues]”:

    So, dream on, or not? As always, your choice dear reader. 🙂

    Regards, onebornfree.
    personal freedom consulting

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  10. The truth is, there are no effective treatments for drug addiction. You can say ‘these people need treatment’ all you want. But, the treatments won’t work. This is a problem for which we do not have a cure. Like most of our problems.

    That’s why they are problems. Because we don’t have a cure. If we did, it would be simply a job, like filling a pothole, and it would have been fixed.

    My leftie friends are always saying how tragic the homeless are and how heartless people are to them for not caring. None of them personally do anything about anyone else ever. But, that is besides the point. The fact is, the homeless here, in Canada, are homeless because they chose to get high instead of get a job. Enough time goes by doing that and they are now mentally and physically incompetent. You can clean them up, and they make the same decision over and over.

    And, one ‘cleaned up’ drug addict after another steps up and says ‘nobody could have helped me. I had to help myself, and I eventually did’, but the big gov types insist they can solve the problem, just give them more money and they will be successful.

    1. “My leftie friends are always saying how tragic the homeless are and how heartless people are to them for not caring. None of them personally do anything about anyone else ever. But, that is besides the point. ”

      No, that is EXACTLY the point. Your lefty friends are lazy and pay lip service to helping people, but don’t want to be bothered to actually do anything themselves to help people (way too much trouble). But they think “someone” should definitely help them, so they are all for forcing everyone to do so. People assume their own inclinations onto others, so your leftie friends probably believe that everyone has the same attitude they do and will not lift a finger to help someone unless they’re forced to, so to them of COURSE government intervention is needed to help anybody.

      Proof is in the pudding, “conservatives” continually donate and volunteer more than “liberals”.

    2. NO NO NO. You must start with the solution (cure) then locate a problem to lay it on. This makes the fact that my boot is up your ass so much easier (and more satisfying) to explain.

    3. Actually there is a cure for addiction: ibogaine, which ironically is a schedule 1 drug. Ibogaine also cures hepatitis and possibly other viral infections. Is any well-informed Reason reader surprised the DEA and FDA consider ibogaine and medical cannabis as having no medicinal value?

      1. did you read the article on quack medicine from this weeks Reason issue? you should read the article on quack medicine.

  11. Liar , liar, pantsuit on fire!

    1. I’m picturing polyester melted to cottage cheese. I think I’ll be skipping dinner tonight.

      1. Nothing like an older woman’s yeast sticking to her polyester.
        eh, my appetite has faded.

        1. What do you call a lady with anorexia nervosa and a yeast infection?

          A quarter pounder with cheese!

          1. Hillary’s a Double Whopper.

            1. Who did her hair in that photo !?

              For that matter, who did her face ?!

  12. Only Queen Hillary knows what’s best for you. Smoking reefer is bad. So is taking some magic mushrooms.
    She is monitoring your body for illegal substances.
    You have been warned.

    1. Did Hillary learn that by studying under Mooocheeelllleee?

      Oh…. sorry… bad double entendre, eh?

  13. Beware the Rehab Industrial Complex.

  14. All we need is to play snippets from her speech punctuated by her informal remark to the press with brandy glass in hand – “Drugs will never be legalized. There is too much money in it”

    Why is this ad not running on every channel at least once per hour?

  15. Rehab is a waste of time for the 95% who relapse after rehab. And it’s a waste of money paid by insureds forced by Obamacare to have rehab coverage. And it’s a waste of money paid by insurance companies forced by Obamacare to pay for it. And it’s a waste of taxpayers’ money spent by governments who force taxpayers to pay for it. Consider the amount of money paid rehab hucksters for each patient, multiply that amount by 20x to arrive at the cost to successfully treat an addict. Politicians would rather be seen by voters as doing something about a problem than be concerned about the actual costs.

  16. Who cares what Hillary says? Every time she opens her mouth, a self-serving lie comes out anyway.

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  18. Drug ‘offenders’ are captive feedstock for public union constituencies in the social engineering industrial complex, hence Democrat ‘solutions’ will always incorporate a maintenance of that fact.

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