Charles M. Blow has a scathing OpEd in today’s New York Times blasting Democratic politicians: Smoke and Horrors
He refers to a war “being waged primarily against minorities and promoted, fueled and financed primarily by Democratic politicians.”
He notes the latest figures in California showing a marijuana war that grossly and disproportionately targets minorities, yet has a Democratic administration “chest-thumping” against an initiative designed, in part, to address that problem.
He points out that it was a Democratic president who signed the provision forcing young people out of college for drug offenses (aimed primarily at poor young people).
And he reminds us that it’s Democrats that keep pushing to restore funding to the Byrne grants — grants that push a numbers-oriented drug war frenzy that naturally is staged predominantly in minority communities.
Why would Democrats support a program that has such a deleterious effect on their most loyal constituencies? It is, in part, callous political calculus. It’s an easy and relatively cheap way for them to buy a tough-on-crime badge while simultaneously pleasing police unions. The fact that they are ruining the lives of hundreds of thousands of black and Hispanic men and, by extension, the communities they belong to barely seems to register.
This is outrageous and immoral and the Democrat’s complicity is unconscionable, particularly for a party that likes to promote its social justice bona fides.
No one knows all the repercussions of legalizing marijuana, but it is clear that criminalizing it has made it a life-ruining racial weapon. As Ms. Alexander told me, “Our failed war on drugs has done incalculable damage.”
When will politicians have the courage to stand up, acknowledge this fact and stop allowing young minority men to be collateral damage?
I think this would be a good article to send to your Democratic representatives. For too long (all the way back to Tip O’Neill and the Anti-Drug Abuse Act of 1986), the Democratic politicians have gotten a free ride on expanding and supporting the drug war as a way to act tough. They need to learn that there are consequences (that Prohibition Isn’t Free), and that these consequences can affect them politically.
Note: There is an odd disconnect between Democratic voters and Democratic politicians on this issue. It’s true that Democratic voters tend to be more likely to support drug policy reform. Yet while there often are political repercussions for a Democratic politician who doesn’t support gay marriage or abortion rights, they are rarely held to account for their position on drug policy. That needs to change.
This article gives them something they must answer.
Some commenters seem to be missing the point entirely, here.
Of course it’s not just the Democratic politicians. Republican politicians have included Nixon, Reagan, Walters, Souder, and tons of other hard-core drug warriors.
The point is that, for too long, Democratic politicians have viewed themselves in the drug war as Republican-lite, and therefore have acted like they should get credit for being as tough as Republicans, but not have the responsibility for the drug war they’ve been fully complicit in creating and sustaining.
If we continue to call them “almost as bad as the Republicans” then they have no political reason to change. They can continue to prattle on about how drug policy reform is a difficult political thing and now is not the time to waste political capital when there are important other things like health care and abortion rights that need to be front and center.
It’s healthy for Democratic politicians to be held to the fire and made to be aware that they can’t hide behind Republican-lite, but that they are personally responsible for racist policy that harms their constituents. And their constituents have to realize that as well.
The fact that this powerful OpEd from a minority author is in the New York Times one week before election is good timing to get their attention and help them start realizing that this could be a real election issue for them personally one day very soon.