GOP pols in a corner over gay rights

The wrong side of history is an uncomfortable place to be.

Republicans in the New York State Senate are caught between a rock and a hard place: the Conservative Party, representing the Teahadi wing of the GOP, won’t let them vote for gay marriage, but even in conservative districts voting against it is a losing issue and they’re worried about losing their majority. Sometimes the wrong side of history is an uncomfortable place to be.

We’re likely to see the same pattern play itself out on liberalizing the cannabis laws; as it happens, I’m not a fan of flat-out legalization, but by the end of this decade generational change will make it a clear political winner over the status quo, and the drug warriors are still too powerful to allow any early move to a sensible compromise such as legalization without commercialization. In the meantime, cannabis, along with gay rights, looks like an increasing problem for Republicans.

Footnote Of course, the glibertarian blogosphere will simply ignore the fact that their favorite politicians are against individual liberty with respect to sex and drugs. Given a choice between capitalism and freedom, they’ll take capitalism, in the sense of low tax rates on high incomes. Feh.

Author: Mark Kleiman

Professor of Public Policy at the NYU Marron Institute for Urban Management and editor of the Journal of Drug Policy Analysis. Teaches about the methods of policy analysis about drug abuse control and crime control policy, working out the implications of two principles: that swift and certain sanctions don't have to be severe to be effective, and that well-designed threats usually don't have to be carried out. Books: Drugs and Drug Policy: What Everyone Needs to Know (with Jonathan Caulkins and Angela Hawken) When Brute Force Fails: How to Have Less Crime and Less Punishment (Princeton, 2009; named one of the "books of the year" by The Economist Against Excess: Drug Policy for Results (Basic, 1993) Marijuana: Costs of Abuse, Costs of Control (Greenwood, 1989) UCLA Homepage Curriculum Vitae Contact: Markarkleiman-at-gmail.com

8 thoughts on “GOP pols in a corner over gay rights”

  1. Footnote Of course, the glibertarian blogosphere will simply ignore the fact that their favorite politicians are against individual liberty with respect to sex and drugs. Given a choice between capitalism and freedom, they’ll take capitalism, in the sense of low tax rates on high incomes. Feh.

    Please

  2. To loosen up my very conservative relatives, who are very homophobic, I usually go out of my way to note that when they smile, I can tell they’re gay!

  3. @ Student

    Please identify a subset of glibertarians who identify Gary Johnson as one of their favorite politicians. Johnson is a candidate for President but he’s going nowhere for two reasons:

    1. He’s in favor of decriminalizing marijuana, if not other drugs;
    2. His name recognition outside the Land of Enchantment is near zero.

    Reason 1 gets him depicted as the marijuana version of Ron Paul (whose single issue is the Federal Reserve) to the GOP faithful. Reason 2 costs him because it allows the opposition to exploit reason 1.

    The simple fact is that Gary Johnson was an accidental Governor of New Mexico. If Bruce King and Roberto Mondragon had kissed and made up in October (as was expected), Johnson would likely have lost the election. King and Mondragon together polled about 51% of the votes cast. Mondragon ran on Green ticket with a platform endorsed by the Green Party. It’s unlikely that many votes for Mondragon would have gone for Johnson had Mondragon retired from the race. Johnson was running on the standard Libertarian-Republican platform calling for lower taxes and less regulation.

  4. Look, if CNN won’t let him debate the other candidates even though he was a popular two-term governor, successful entrepreneur, and élite athlete, then what can he do?

    Friedersdorf, McArdle (both writer for Atlantic which is bigger than this joint), Welch, Cavanaugh, Gillespie, Massie… Okay, I’ll shut up before I blind you with libertarian luminaries.)

    Professor Kleiman should know that both the terms “Teahadi” and “glibertarian” are puerile.

    And, frankly, the GOP is far too rotten to deserve Gary Johnson. The USA, too.

  5. I’m not a fan of flat-out legalization, but by the end of this decade generational change will make it a clear political winner over the status quo, and the drug warriors are still too powerful to allow any early move to a sensible compromise such as legalization without commercialization.

    Flat-out legalization and commercialization is the only hope of putting an end to the horrible side effects of drug prohibition. Legalize and strictly regulate, just like alcohol. The regulatory framework is already there. Anything less cedes control of the market to criminals. “Decriminalization” of alcohol would not have put the Al Capones out of business, and it won’t work with other drugs either.

  6. Professor Kleiman should know that both the terms “Teahadi” and “glibertarian” are puerile.

    Thank you. Yes, embarrassingly so.

  7. “Of course, the glibertarian blogosphere will simply ignore the fact that their favorite politicians are against individual liberty with respect to sex and drugs.”

    It would be rather more difficult to ignore, if Democrats were conspicuously better on civil liberties including, yes, drugs.

    “legalization without commercialization.” is an oxymoron.

  8. Brett: “if Democrats were conspicuously better on civil liberties including, yes, drugs.” They won’t be.

    Brett: “‘legalization without commercialization’ is an oxymoron.” My immediate reaction to this is that Brett was playing with words, because Mark’s meaning is clear: he means legalization of possession of small amounts. But then I thought about how difficult that would be. Current law does not generally prohibit sale; it prohibits distribution, even for free. So, if I don’t have the time or inclination to grow pot on my windowsill, and my friend, who does, shares his pot, does he go to prison? If I give him a couple of bucks for his effort, do I go to prison? Suppose I throw a pot party and supply enough pot for ten people. Do I go to prison? And, of course, the question isn’t just whether I go to prison; it is whether the police who claim to smell the smoke in the hallway can bust down my door with guns drawn and kill my dog for barking at them (if not kill me too). So, yes, legalization without commercialization is an oxymoron.

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