04 October 2010

News of the world

So...That's interesting.

I don't have much to say on that yet. The interesting part is still what happens if it passes, what does the Federal government do, sue, keep raiding California pot growers and distributers, etc. The Republicans probably don't want near this issue with a 10 foot pole anymore than the Democrats do because it distracts from their "message" of "fiscal responsibility" (I laugh every time I hear that from either party), but it surprises me with an issue being at or near 50% support, and with very high levels of support among the Democratic base of younger voters who are extremely annoyed with Republican policies on precisely issues like drug war policies, that there are not more Democratic politicians making this a campaign issue or talking about it in a noteworthy way.

I pretty much know of Gary Johnson on the Republican side, and that's about it. Maybe Barney Frank and Steve Cohen on the Democrat side. Would be nice to get more establishment voices calling for an end, same way we need more voices calling to end agricultural subsidies or stop funding NASA or to trim the defence and entitlement budgets. Paul Ryan's got to be kind of lonely on the entitlement reform island right now. Would also be nice if there were more civil liberties nuts like Feingold out there to oppose ridiculous ideas like the demand for a backdoor into encrypted or peer to peer software transmissions (essentially removing Internet privacy writ large). Maybe it takes time for people in power and governing over powerful institutions to shift their ideas and public mindset to match that of the people they govern over. Even in a democracy. Perhaps.

But one thing that does seem different is that when Republicans go on a tirade about "trimming the size of government" and so on, their supporters lap that up and ask for seconds without sitting and asking the obvious follow ups (how? or what exactly are we trimming? Would that actually close the deficits? Didn't you guys just expand the size of some of our biggest programmes?). Meanwhile, when someone offers the same platitudes about making us "safer" or talking about extralegal assassination or torture programmes or policies, the people who really care about civil liberties will crucify you if you don't follow up on it. Obama has consistently walked back most of his promises on these issues, many of which did not require Congressional support or approval, or if they did, he could have fought for public opinion more vigorously to make it more costly to those who opposed changing policies. There's a large swath of Obama supporters who are practically beside themselves on these issues, not to mention those people who assumed his positions on gay rights, the drug war, or Afghanistan were somehow shared with their own (despite significant evidence to the contrary certainly on gay rights and Afghanistan from his own campaign).

In any case, something is wrong with this difference that budget hawks don't actually seem to exist in nature the way that the ACLU does (they do, but only amongst the policy wonk variety, whereas almost any civil liberties person was created out of things like anti-terrorism or anti-drug legislation and actually knows the issues, this is also true of issues like gay rights or freedom of speech and religion nuts). It shouldn't be that hard to get people to really care about both things and actually know at least enough to ask a hard question and demand a satisfied, informed answer from the people they've elected to make tough choices and compromises and decisions for them.
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