FDR was, of course, a consummate political leader. In one situation, a group came to him urging specific actions in support of a cause in which they deeply believed. He replied: “I agree with you, I want to do it, now make me do it.”
He understood that a President does not rule by fiat and unilateral commands to a nation. He must build the political support that makes his decisions acceptable to our countrymen. He read the public opinion polls not to define who he was but to determine where the country was š and then to strategize how he could move the country to the objectives he thought had to be carried out.
Everybody has an agenda to push with the new President-elect. We’re going to be on a list a mile long. And it’s not enough for a lot of people to be in favor of drug policy reform. They must want it bad enough to make political leaders do it.
That requires making the grass roots overwhelming.
Let’s take a quick look look at two different individual rights issues right now — gay rights and drug use. Both have a strong and committed advocacy core. Both generally enjoy some measure of public support. Both suffer somewhat from the “doesn’t affect me” syndrome (ie, “I’m generally for gay rights, but I’m not gay, so I don’t care that much about making gay marriage legal.” or “I’m generally for decriminalization, but I don’t do drugs, so I don’t care much about making drugs legal.”* )
However, individual rights isn’t all that drug policy reform is about. There are also the cost of prohibition — massive costs in taxpayer financing, in violence and corruption — and those costs affect everyone.
All we have to do is get the entire country outraged at the drug war. And then, the President-elect will have no choice but to make change, regardless of his disposition.
* (It’s hard to read how much that impacted this week’s referenda on the two topics.)