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November 2005
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Democrats Fled in the Face of Danger

Garrison Keillor takes his own party to task:

We Democrats are at our worst when we try to emulate Republicans as we did in signing onto the “war” on drugs that has ruined so many young lives.

The cruelty of the Sentencing Reform Act of 1984 is stark indeed, as are the sentencing guidelines that impose mandatory minimum sentences for minor drug possession — guidelines in the 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act that sailed through Congress without benefit of public hearings, drafted before an election by Democrats afraid to be labeled “soft on drugs.” As a result, a marijuana grower can land in prison for life without parole while a murderer might be in for eight years.

No rational person can defend this; it is a Dostoevskian nightmare and it exists only because politicians fled in the face of danger.

That includes Bill Clinton, under whose administration the prosecution of Americans for marijuana went up hugely, so that now there are more folks in prison for marijuana than for violent crimes. More than for manslaughter or rape. This only makes sense in the fantasy world of Washington, where perception counts for more than reality.

To an old Democrat, who takes a ground view of politics — What is the actual effect of this action on the lives of real people? — it is a foul tragedy that makes you feel guilty about enjoying your freedom.

This is a message that Democrats need to hear and heed.

[Thanks, jackl]

(Note: The 1986 Anti-Drug Abuse Act passed the House 392-16 and the Senate 97-2)

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