Why I am No Longer a Republican (and never was a Democrat)

Steve at a Campaign ParadeLet me tell you why I am no longer active in either mainstream party.

I was a Republican activist most of my life for one simple reason – I believe we need to reduce the size of government and its intrusion into our lives. I was what Andrew Sullivan (my favorite political blogger) coined a South Park Republican.

Hell, I was so into it – I even ran for the Minnesota State Legislature.

If you’re a small government guy like me, there are countless reasons to be disenfranchised with the current Republican Party – wiretaps, suspension of habeas corpus, the drug war, the ‘terror’ war, massive government spending, unprecedented debt, and on and on…

This event pushed me over the edge…

My bright and promising 19-year-old nephew was a college Sophomore in 2005. In October of 2005, the local police arrested him for possession of psilocybin mushrooms.

When I first heard the news I thought, ‘shrooms – no big deal – he’ll pay a fine – maybe do a few weeks in county jail – he’ll learn a life lesson – it might even be good for him.

What I discovered over the next few months horrified me.

Drug Classifications

The first thing I learned is that Minnesota, the US federal government, and the UN classify psilocybin mushrooms as a Schedule I narcotic. This means that the government considers them more dangerous than Crack or Methamphetamine. The government considers psilocybin mushrooms as dangerous as Heroin. Anybody with any experience in the counter-culture knows that riding a motorcycle is many times more dangerous than eating psilocybin mushrooms. From 1993 – 2000 there was one confirmed death from ‘magic mushrooms.’ But I digress.

Mandatory Minimum Sentencing

Minnesota has mandatory minimum sentences called guidelines and judges rarely deviate from them. The Democrats and Republicans put the system together in a joint effort to rid the system of discriminatory sentencing.

“The purpose of the sentencing guidelines is to establish rational and consistent sentencing standards which reduce sentencing disparity and ensure that sanctions following conviction of a felony are proportional to the severity of the offense of conviction and the extent of the offender’s criminal history. Equity in sentencing requires (a) that convicted felons similar with respect to relevant sentencing criteria ought to receive similar sanctions, and (b) that convicted felons substantially different from a typical case with respect to relevant criteria ought to receive different sanctions.” As revised August 1, 2004.

This meant the prosecutor – following the letter of the law – charged my nephew with Minnesota’s most severe drug charge – 1st degree controlled substance crime, a charge originally intended for drug kingpins.

How do I know it was intended for drug kingpins?

From the Minnesota Bar…
First-degree offenses were ranked at severity level VIII. These were, in the words of the legislative history, the true drug kingpins, the drug wholesalers. — were viewed to be similar to a person who raped someone using a threat of serious bodily injury.

The only crime considered more severe than possessing psilocybin mushrooms is murder. You Don’t believe me? – Read the Minnesota Sentencing Grid.

Minnesota law treats the possession of psilocybin mushrooms equal to robbing a store and raping the clerk at gunpoint… all in order to ‘reduce sentencing disparity.’ So the next time you hear someone harping about equality, be careful, the solution might make us all equally miserable.

So, a 19-year-old hippy kid – with no criminal history – in a blue state – was facing a mandatory 8 years in prison with no chance of early parole.

This isn’t a kid who was going to ‘make it’ in prison. He is young, thin, blonde, shy, and peaceful. IMHO – sending him to prison would be the cruelest kind of torture.

In the past, I’ve always supported the ‘get tough on crime’ crowd. I thought they would go after murderers, child molesters, and rapists. I didn’t know they viewed mushroom eating college students as a major threat to society.

Look at this situation in Kansas. Does this make sense to you?

So what happened to your nephew?

My brother isn’t wealthy, so they consulted the public defender and he recommended that they attempt to plea bargain the charge to a 2nd degree controlled substance crime, which carried a mandatory 4-year prison sentence. This was unacceptable so my brother tapped his retirement savings and secured the best criminal defense attorney in the Upper Midwest.

The attorney moved to have the evidence suppressed (the mushrooms) because the police violated my nephew’s 4th amendment rights (search and seizure). I’m not going to go into detail about the case, but a judge ruled that the police violated his 4th amendment rights and ordered the evidence suppressed, which meant the prosecution had no case – no mushrooms, no crime.

So my nephew walked – the luckiest kid on earth. But imagine what happens to a kid that doesn’t have a dad willing to spend his retirement savings on his defense?

So what does this mean for my political activism?

It means that I will no longer support a political candidate or party that doesn’t vow to reform the irrational drug laws that are destroying our young people. It leaves me without a political home, except the libertarians, who never recieve more than 1% of the vote – hardly a comforting home.

Remember, the kids we lock up in prison are real people, real people’s children, and real people’s grandchildren. They aren’t statistics on Fox News; they are human beings.

I’d love to hear from the law and order types…

How does society benefit from locking up children for possessing hallucinogens? Locking them in cages where they will likely be beaten and sexually abused for years by real criminals.

  • How do you justify this?
  • Why do they deserve such a heinous punishment?
  • How does society benefit from this?
  • Why aren’t more of us outraged? Is it because it’s usually someone else’s kids?

I recently read that hallucinogens are illegal because they make authority seem funny and there is nothing more threatening to authority than laughing children. Look at the latest terrorism case in Boston. Reporters found the ‘accused terrorists’ jokes at a news conference more unsettling than the over-reaction and incompetence of the City of Boston.

Steve with Jimmy Hoffa Jr.I’ve wanted to do this post for months – and I’ve written it, re-written it, thrown it away, and written it again. Each time I’ve been afraid I’ll be misunderstood. I guess it’s a risk I’ll take.

But let me be very clear…

I am not attempting to pander to Democrats. That party has done nothing to end the drug war and its abuses. I am looking for anyone in either mainstream party to step forward and propose an end to this injustice.

I am not advocating drug use. I am simply questioning the severity of our drug laws while looking for intelligent creative ideas that address the problem.

143 thoughts on “Why I am No Longer a Republican (and never was a Democrat)”

  1. Steve,

    I’m a Minnesotan too. Both political parties are just nothing but wings of the same corrupted bird, bought and paid for by Big Business in collusion with Big Government.

    As a life long Republican…I walked away from them too. However, we do have an American Patriot, a Libertarian-Republican named Ron Paul who is going to be announcing his candidacy for President soon. Check the Presidential polls here…he is surging on the Republican side.

    Ron Paul is the closest thing this country has had to Thomas Jefferson, since that libertarian, freedom loving 3rd President occupied the White House almost 200 years ago. The rest of the candidates both Democrat and Republican are absolutely hopeless hacks…the worst of the worst!

    To learn more about Ron Paul…read his letters at http://www.lewrockwell.com . Go to the archive section or authors and click on his or his name.

    We are losing our freedoms in this country and have warped into an Empire and not a Republic. We are the “nanny-socialist” state, where government knows what is best for us. Ron Paul has consistently opposed the war in Iraq…he has consistently argued for balanced budgets…he has consistently argued for lower taxes and less government like Jefferson.

    There is NO ONE ELSE who even comes close to Ron Paul. There is a vast grassroots movement underfoot right now to get him nominated. He was actually the 1988 Libertarian Candidate for President when he left the Republican Party.

    He has been a consistent advocate for Liberty. I encourage everyone, Democrats, Republicans and Independents to discover this man…he is our Winston Churchill and Braveheart wrapped in one.

    LIVE FREE OR DIE!!!

  2. Wow What a collection of druggies ,liberals and self righteous libertarians. Its the systems fault ! No. Its the laws fault ! No ! Its the cultures fault! No! Its the Republicans fault ! YES! Flip Wilson would say ,” it’s the devils fault , the devil made me do it ” But of course, no one believes that any more . The Republicans made me do it. Yes , that sounds better.

  3. Power to you my brother.
    However, I listen to A LOT of talk radio and much of these ‘Libertarians’ sound all too much like crazy republicans.
    Is it about effing time for ‘Common Effing Sense Party’?
    For a ‘Just Do the Best and Most Right Thing Party’?
    For a ‘Have Some God-Forsaken Integrity Party’?!?

    Joey in LA

  4. I’ve found an adequate solution to your plight. Vote third party, always. And promote that action to everyone else as well.

    I’ve gotten into the habit of only voting for Libertarian candidates for low-ranking positions, saving my presidential vote for the leading Democrat. In this way, if we all voted the same, we could start to rebuild our country from the bottom up.

  5. Why does everyone qualify their attack on the drug laws of America with “dont’ get me wrong I know drugs are terrible….” I don’t think drugs are terrible. John Hopkins doesn’t think mushrooms are terrible. http://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/Press_releases/2006/07_11_06.html. Why does the government have ANY RIGHT to tell me what I can do with my body. If they are trying to protect me against unscrupulous sellers, create a process where there is a waiver process that states that “I know exactly what I am doing!”. We have a state of affairs where people accept so much government interference in their lives that they limit their request to “dont send him to prison for 8 years”. It’s simple. America is a fascist state and Americans are media drugged sheep. Anyone with any ability to emigrate to another chosen country should do so. Let the backward, uneducated, costco shopping, hummer driving, chumps, who can’t keep the government from spending all of their own money to screw them, live the amerian nightmare.

  6. Steve,

    Now that you have had this awakening, I have to make the case for you to continue as an active Republican – possibly even an office-holding Republican.

    It is a simple fact that third parties are not effective in American politics. Yes, they can set the agenda on important issues, they can provide good policies for the two main parties to steal, but they don’t get elected and they don’t wield any real power because of our antiquated electoral system. So think twice whether you want all your energy and effort to go for naught. There is no anti-prohibition party in the US – not even the Libertarians really make this a central issue in their appeal. The only way to get this issue to the forefront is if committed members of the two major parties push it there.

    Now, I am a liberal Democrat who thinks exactly as you do about drug policy. And I want there to be less Republicans, so I do not make a plea for you to return to the fold lightly. I generally prefer that Libertarian-leaning Republican types stay irrelevantly in the Randian playpen known as the American Libertarian party.

    The reason you need to be a Republican is this: unless anti-prohibition policies become a bi-partisan issue, we can never dismantle the beast we have let loose in the heart of our criminal justice system.

    We need active Republicans like yourself, and active Democrats like myself who are willing to work for anti-prohibition candidates, hold party offices, push for adoption of anti-prohibition policies within the major parties, and to run for office unafraid to espouse anti-prohibition views. That can start to happen only when there is are powerful voices in both parties calling for such reform. I say this as a Democrat who ran for state legislature in Arizona in 1992 with decriminalization of marijuana as a major focus of my campaign (and lost, of course).

    Espousing anti-prohibition views leaves the advocate wide open to the obnoxious and easy slander of being ‘soft on crime’ or ‘pro-illegal drug use’ or even ‘in favor of selling dope to our kids’. Only if both sides have a significant anti-prohibition rump can such charges be defused by either side. It cannot be ‘safe’ for anti-prohibition advocates for either party, until they have counterparts to point to in the other party. Ending prohibition cannot become a major issue for either party until it has at least some advocates in both. That is why the Republican party, the Democratic party, the Libertarian party, and the cause of anti-prohibition itself needs you, and thousands like you, in the Republican party.

  7. A person shouldn’t run for office if it takes a personal experience to figure out that parties aren’t what they say they are. The more you live in mythology the more you like parties. Most of our founders felt that parties were negatives on democracy and the subsequent two centuries have born them out.
    Our system, which gives us the “choice” between Kerry & Bush is toast. Rebellion against both parties has begun in the under-30s and will remake America soon.

  8. As more people have the same kind of experiences you have just had, the libertarians will start to get more of the vote. And libertarians do regularly draw more than 1% of the vote, just not in the federal level races. There are lots of elected libertarians at the city / county / local level; what we need now are some some of those folks to start moving up to the State legislatures and then go Governor and/or Congress.

    Oh, and don’t forget Ron Paul who is essentially a Libertarian, but is (probably) running for President (as a Republican) in 2008.

  9. Yes, the draconian drug laws in this country are an absolute shame to anybody who wants real criminals in prison. Locking people up for decades because of possession of mushrooms or marijuana only serves to flood the prisons, which turn them into revolving-door establishments – and funny, the rapists and murderers and gangbangers get out, but the nineteen-year-old college kids who got caught with a roach in their car will end up staying in for years longer. Sure, this is a problem. However, the fact that you finally – and only by proxy, your relative – figured out that your beloved Republican party has led the charge for “tougher minimum sentencing for drug offenders” and ended up leading us directly into punishing [i]malum prohibitum[/i] crimes like they’re murder. Do you really think you’re going to get any sympathy, just because your nephew ran afoul of your precious party’s colossally unsuccessful but much-beloved “War on Drugs?” Bah. If an illegal, immoral war in Iraq, rampant corruption in government, senseless pandering to the oil and energy industries, and shameless lack of moral character among the party’s leadership couldn’t convince this guy that his party was a group of crooks, liars, and cheats, then why the hell should we care enough about his opinion to welcome him into the anti-Republican movement? It’s fine when it’s someone else’s kids getting sent to prison for decades for simple possession of low-priority drugs – but his nephew gets caught, and only then can he figure out that it’s horrendously unjust? Come on. With hypocrisy, selfishness, and self-righteousness like that, dude, you might as well go back to the Republicans – they’re the only ones that’ll want you.

  10. I live in CA in the santa clara valley, I have first hand experience with the drug laws in this state. After paying lawyers paying the “drug” court, paying testing labs, paying probation, paying for a SLE (sober living enviroment), paying for aftercare. registering as a drug addict … I realized that drug prosecution has become an industry in and of itself. It will never end. It will put too many county workers out of a job. Public defenders ,court employees, testing labs sober living environments, transitional housing units, criminal defense attorneys, processors at the courts and sheriffs office, the probation dept, cops, correctional officers, judges that’s just off the top of my head. overhauling drug laws will wipe out a lucrative industry

  11. i guess Mr Olsons experience has made him a single issue voter. Drugs . Or rather, drug enforcement. He should come to the southern border and witness the results of a tolerant society that can’t bring its self to enforce its terrible border and immigration laws. The Mexicans laugh at us. They bring illegals in by the truckload and sneer at any suggestion that this is bad. What the hell are you gonna do about it gringo ? We wring our hands in agony over whether to prosecute for the death penalty a guy from Houston who allowed 17 illegals to die in his unventilated tractor trailer. We got more, gringo, don worry.
    And then , the drugs. They come in as though it was a normal commercial transaction. They come in by the ton , by the trailer load , by the boatload by the pickup load, And we are powerless. Paralyzed to inaction by a ceaseless and ruthless enemy. whom we cannot stop . Because the solution is too horrible to consider. It will continue until a majority of people realize the power and will to correct these problems lies in THEIR hands. But, they must do it together, united in purpose not party. ( Thats a helluva slogan eh?) Will it happen? Not likely. Not as long as guys like Mr Olson make strawdogs out of Republicans . We need a Party united to bring solutions that work. I don’t see a candidate with that conviction or a party with that resolve to get the support necessary to get results. Spare me your outrage.

  12. It is sometimes ‘uncomfortable’ to be in a party without a lot of political efficacy. I sometimes feel that way too. It’s something the two main parties count on that joining a third party will be too uncomfortable, too pointless seeming.

    But here’s the thing. Every person who is willing to be uncomfortable, to be out of the mainstream and to speak about it and defend themselves in doing so make it a little less uncomfortable, a little more viable, gives a little more breathing room for the hope that someday things will change.

    Will it happen? I dunno. But thank you for being uncomfortable, because the more and more people who decide that they can’t compromise any more on the fundamentals, that they can’t put up with the egregious excesses of government; the closer we move to actually changing the our cities, our states, our nation.

    I would join you in supporting any viable politician of whatever stripe who was serious about radical reform in how we treat drugs/narcotics. As it stands, we only create enormous profits for organized crime and destroy lives pointlessly in prison.

  13. I never said anything about supporting the Democratic party; your arguments are against a straw man.

  14. phenomenal post. one of the most compelling I’ve read anywhere in quite some time.

    But I might add that one’s party affiliation does not define one’s self. There are true libertarian members of the GOP and the Democratic party. You yourself could be one and still retain your dignity.

    But still a great post.

    Thanks.

  15. Johnathan,

    I just read your comment again. You are assuming I was against drug liberalization and now I am for it. That isn’t true. I’ve never believed drug posession should be anything more than a petty fine. However, I never made a big issue about it until this hit home. You are right about that much. So since I wasn’t passionate about it before, I have no right to be passionate today? Where is the sense in that?

    To be honest I know lots of people that were busted for drugs in the 80s and none of them ever saw prison. I thought it was still that way. Drug law was NEVER discussed during any campaign I was involved with.

    I found out most of the harsh drug laws in Minnesota were passed in 1989 and went into affect in 1990 by a Democratic house, senate, and signed by Rudy Perpich a Democrat. The problem is… and I’m calling them out here… the Republicans won’t do anything about this because they are cowards.

    I have always believed non-violent crimes should be treated differently than violent crimes. The problem is…
    Neither of the major parties agree with me. So off I go…

  16. You see the tragedy of the principles-based objection to current drug laws and their enforcement. You are tainted by the company you keep. The biggest threat to freedom is the current deep and utter confusion about what it truly is.

    “The people never give up their liberties but under some delusion.” – Edmund Burke.

    The worth of a State, in the long run, is the worth of the
    individuals composing it. . . . A State which dwarfs its men,
    in order that they may be more docile instruments in its
    hands even for beneficial purposes, will find that with small
    men no great thing can really be accomplished; and that the
    perfection of machinery to which it has sacrificed everything
    will in the end avail it nothing, for want of the vital power
    which, in order that the machine might work more smoothly,
    it has preferred to banish.
    —John Stuart Mill

  17. I have done research on this topic as well. It is imperative that these mandatory minimum laws be repealed. There are several states beginning to see the light. In addition to being absurd in their definitions of what drugs are most harmful, these laws are overcrowding the prison system. Nearly 1/3 of all incoming prisoners in NY are sentenced by mandatory minimums. This policy costs taxpayers millions of dollars.
    Also, mandatory minimums give an unfair advantage to those with a hefty income. The better the lawyer, the more chance someone has of getting a plea bargain or having the case dropped.
    I’m glad you have decided to make public your experience in this area.
    I’m with you in deciding that Democrats and Republicans should not be the only two parties that matter. It is a shame that Green, Mountain, and Libertarian candidates do not have the same resources. The time for moderates is over.

  18. Your next to last paragraph spells it out for me Steve . You admit the entire situation is the result of DEMOCRATS but you blame Republicans . I guess that makes you a hypocrite, or a fool.

  19. Dear Steve,

    You caught my interest with your story. I was the DFL (Democratic) endorsed candidate for Congress in Minnesota’s 3rd District this past election cycle (2006) running against Republican Jim Ramstad.

    While I was the endorsed Democratic candidate, I maintained before, during, and now after the election that I am independent and a hybrid moderate Republican, Libertarian, Indepence, Green, Democratic my-own-man sort of woman.

    To the point, quite a number of years ago I participated in a discussion forum in which I asked a lot of questions about our nation’s War on Drugs, its effect on prison population, the wasted billions of dollars, and failure to lower drug use in the US at all.

    Congressman Ramstad used this discussion to try twice to discredit me in our KSTP-TV live debate. Then one of the news anchors moderating the debate came back on the drug issue yet again to try and make me sound wacky or unreasonable.

    I am proud to have held my ground, defended free speech and the wisdom of being unafraid to talk openly about all issues we face in our nation without fear or shame, or we’ll never resolve the issues.

    You can still watch this debate online at: http://kstp.dayport.com/viewer/viewerpage.php?Art_ID=169824

    and see the exchange for yourself. Count the 3 times they tried to shame me for paticipating in a discussion forum! They should be ashamed.

    I would be excited to connect with you Steve. My email address is above.

    Wendy

  20. You bring up great points, all around. However, I’d suggest that it’s not simply a matter of people’s ignorance of overly harsh drug sentencing. People are willing to legislate away the rights of others by prohibiting victimless crimes simply because they are able to distance themselves from the targets of the laws.

    By god, improving someone else’s life by outlawing something *they* do but *I* don’t must be a good idea, right?

    This “us-vs.-them” attitude makes passing laws that are “tough on crime” easy for everyone who considers himself a non-criminal–which is virtually everyone. In reality, though, the problem is that this attidude places extraordinarily dangerous laws on the books as people legislate for others rather than for themselves or their families. We’ve totally lost track of the golden rule, and feel morally superior for having done so.

    And so, I aplaud your stand for individual rights but I worry that you miss seeing a fundamental danger in your views on crime and rights. It’s not us against them; we need laws that we feel comfortable with having enforced upon everyone, ourselves included.

    As an example, not all criminals–those convicted of crimes–are evil or blameworthy. I’d hope that your recent experience would amply demonstrate this. Your fears about your nephew’s being “beaten and sexually abused for years by *real* criminals” though suggest that you still view the world as divided in this way between yourself and the “bad people.”

    I’m not suggesting that prison is safe or is free from those who would hurt your nephew–I believe quite the contrary–but I hate to see people, even those branded as criminals, dismissed in this way. “Real criminals” are humans as much as you and I are, and while it may be satisfying to lock them away or campaign to remove more of their rights, each time we do so we endanger our own rights. Human justice is a very difficult and delicate concept to enact, and it absolutely crumbles without the assumption, both legal and cultural, that all people are truly equal.

  21. Steve –

    Someone tagged your site on StumbleUpon, that is how I found you. Ok, first of all, your nephew shouldn’t have walked. We are, as adults in America, responsible for being aware of the laws by which we are bound, and not breaking them. It is part of being an adult. He knowingly broke a law, and needs to make some sort of amends.

    BUT

    I am not now, nor have I ever been, an illegal substance user. You don’t have to be to see that the punishment for breaking the law under which your nephew’s crime falls is so far out of line that “disturbing” doesn’t come close to touching it. There are many antiquated state and federal laws that need our attention. A brief perusal of any American’s state laws will bring to light many outdated, and sometimes downright outlandish laws. As well as methods and guidelines of punishment for said laws. The punishment for the crime your nephew committed doesn’t come close to being appropriate.

    I was raised in a family where 4 grandparents and both parents voted straight ticket Republican. So of course, turning 18, so did I. Then I sat back in horror and watched the party my entire family loved and was so committed to, implode. Other than the initial voting period after my 18th birthday, I have never voted straight ticket, and actually, going on a case by case basis, and looking into the individuals running for office and thee ideas and ideals they hold, found myself rarely voting republican at all. Unfortunately, I find myself backed into a corner occasionally. The last presidential election for example. I didn’t much agree with EITHER candidates views overall, and ended up voting for what I saw as “The lesser of two evils”. Unfortunately for everyone, he ended up in office, and I’ll forever be one of the people wondering if I shouldn’t in fact, have voted the other way.

    Revamping the Libertarian party, renaming it, whatever needs to be done, lets get on it. Two party politics has been dying for a long time. I’d like more of a choice. I solid choice. Let’s bring that one percent up.

  22. Drugs should be legalized and taken out of the hands of criminals. To the left, politically speaking, and I remain horrified by both party’s positions on the matter. That said, the Dems are far more likely to liberalize the drug laws than the Republicans, who for the most part, think life in prison is a good thing for drug users; there are exceptions, such as William F. Buckley

  23. You aren’t the only one in Minnesota that feels that way. The Contract for America was actually a good thing that called for balancing the budget and having politicians living under the same laws as everyone else. The Contract said that if we put the Republicans into power, they will make the these changes.

    The Republican party moved away from those goals – they breached the contract. Therefore, there is no reason to keep them in power.

  24. Steve

    Boy, those angry liberals sure are hurting there causes by being such A-holes, aren’t they? Nothing like blasting somebody because they had the audacity to not believe something the same exact time you did. Really makes me want to listen to them so they can tell me what a terrible person I am even more.

    Now, on to important things: I have to agree with what other people said. The Libertarian party needs people like you. You’re comment that their small numbers is the reason you won’t go with them is EXACTLY the reason they stay small. I have no evidence to back this up, but I bet that if everyone who felt that way decided to bite the bullet and try Libertarian, you would have an enormous increase in the party membership and voting–enough to change a lot of things. But everyone always gets strung up on how small the party is. Well, it’s got to change sometime, doesn’t it?

  25. Drugs are illegal because they destroy lives. Not just the life of the user but everyone around them, including children. The PEOPLE want stiff penalties so we get mandatory sentences. But mindless government bureaucracies follow the law, in an effort to be “fair to everyone” while lawyers reap their harvests for financial gain. So we end up with Steve’s nephew’s scenario.

    Who to blame? IMO it is the PEOPLE who demand something be done then don’t pay attention to what is done. It is the polling by politicians of all stripes that creates an open democracy since the PEOPLE won’t pay attention or get involved. So we get the government that WE THE PEOPLE deserve.

    Steve, it ain’t Republicans that are to blame, it is the PEOPLE.

  26. I just posted your discussion to our local newspaper web site. We just built a new big huge expensive jail for nealy 100 million dollars. People are no happy about the taxes and expense….This article is wonderful!

    IT will fly pretty well in a red county here with a growing libertarian presence.

  27. I understand where you’re coming from and share your feelings of horror at the thought of your nephew being sent to a hardcore prison. Rape is an especially horrible form of torture because it hurts the soul, and ongoing intensive sexual abuse often damages the victim’s spirit beyond repair. I’m glad he’s going to be alright. I just hope he avoids drugs because the cops who busted him might want to try and get him again and might do it correctly the second time.

    I continue to vote for Democrats simply because the sum total of Republican abuses of power is so great that the need to stop BushCo overrides other concerns. But if the Dems simply become the new rubber-stamp, especially if BushCo attacks Iran, that will it for me. And as disgusted as I will be, I probably won’t be especially surprised.

  28. LoveandLight,

    And Pelosi’s shuttle aircraft corruption, Levin’s lies and Kerry’s disparaging comments about the US don’t bother you? Apparently genocidal Iranian threats while arming itself with ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons are of no concern? So you proceed apace with socialist healthcare and vow to fix the sun’s natural patterns. Look to Marx, Stalin and Pol Pot as your saviors. They certainly looked after the masses in their domains.

    When you can call the President the enemy, you might want to lay off the KoolAid.

  29. I find it difficult to find empathy for your family because empathy require I experience the same trauma and in such, I will understand your family’s pain. I do understand the get tough on crime crusaders’ negative externalities imposed on people and I am angry with the people who once supported such candidates. You are angry with the situation that fell on a person who had a family that could afford an attorney, a family that could afford to send a child to college, but you did not see the anguish that these laws have rot on the poor, the people who are serving 2 years when the best criminal defense attorney was not an option, the people who will not go to college.

    The middle class once cared for the poor because they were once poor. The greatest generation came of age during the great depression and left to fight in a war for a country that had nothing to offer when they returned from Europe and the Pacific. They then went to work to rebuild this country and much of the first world. They worked and gave a portion of their income to help the poor as they remembered hunger pains. Yet they failed in one aspect, they created the worst generation, the baby boomers.

    Your generation is the generation that claims everything a person has was gained only because of hard work. But they fail to understand the infrastructure such as the courts, the roads, the FAA, FTC, CIA, DOD were built before they entered the work force and each agency is essential for the success of this country. Your generation did not rise against the draft when the poor was being sent to Vietnam but when deferments vanished the faux hippies took to the streets for selfish reasons, to save their own ass. Your generation was the wealthiest generation in history yet you turned your back on the poor. Your generation, now disillusioned when what they did to the poor is now being done to them and their children. You cannot afford health care because the insurance corporations seek government protection but the poor never had health care. You cannot afford college for your children because the price is out of your reach when it has never been in the reach of the poor. You hate unfair drug laws when the same laws have devastated poor families for decades.

    You and your generation put these people into power and now you are confused when the rich turn their back on the middle class but empathy is difficult to muster because your enemy is the same face you see in the mirror. The middle class is not the elite and now they are the poor but you still refuse to see reality. You tell us you are no longer a republican but it is obvious the republicans never accepted you but instead used your greed to steal your security.

    You cry for your nephew and bitch about small government and I am sure you love Regan, a man that increased the size of our governments all to visible hand more than any president in 60 years, except one and that is Bush (who I am sure you voted for). Bush increased spending by 46% doubled the debt, and now spies on Americans (big brother is watching). The corporations tell us they need the government off their back so they can prosper but they will seek the protection of the government if it will increase profits. The government will bail out a bank, the government will give farms subsidies, the government will subsidize Boeing, the government will invade a country that tries to nationalize an industry if a US company has partial ownership. Why do we care what Chavez does in his own country? Because Verizon will loose, I do not care if this company looses its investment, it is a risk they chose to take investing in another country.

    I am working on a PhD in economics and I believe in markets but markets will never be free if corporations use the government to protect profits. When the government stops protecting corporations it will be time to get the government out of the lives of the poor. I do not want our government to fight wars for companies; I do not want the government to protect media giants by limiting the number of firms that want to enter the market. If I can afford a radio tower I cannot start broadcasting because the government will not give me a license. Clear Channel will fight for this kind of government intrusion but they tell you they need the government off their back and you believe them. The airline industry can file multiple bankruptcies but republicans want block the same rights to individuals.

    The Democrats deserve blame for their actions but you need to understand they only drifted to the right to remain a viable party. Why did they do this? Because people like you supported lower taxes (and they went only to the rich). Because people like you supported smaller government even though it grew. Because people like you supported the get tough on crime rhetoric of the republicans. Blame yourself and the middle class for putting a “hippie” in jail for some shrooms because you pushed politics to the right. 2.2 million people rot in jail and 60% are in jail for drugs. Most of these people are poor minorities and you want us to cry for a few privileged white kids. I have one thing to say about your sob story, I do have sympathy for the young man and I am pleased he did not have to suffer in prison but I do not have sympathy for you or any other republican wana be. I only ask you to have sympathy for those with less than you who languish in prison because public defenders are our attorneys in a criminal justice system that can be bought if dad has enough savings. Come back to the Democratic Party and fight against the people who have manipulated the government with money.

  30. Great read! I actually made a gradual journey away from Democratic politics after seeing the countless ways in which the two mainstream political parties were identical (corporate globalization, “drug war”, chipping away at the church-state wall of separation, etc.). Although I consider myself a left-winger, I would gladly support a full-fledged Libertarian over whichever clowns the Dems and Repubs nominate. If we could manage to keep the government out of the business of legislating morality and controlling our everyday lives and the entire globe, all of our lives would be significantly better! I think that our national political scene is shifting from a liberal/conservative conflict towards a libertarian/authoritarian dichotomy. If we keep heading down the road to authoritarianism (whether that of the left or the right), the future for the next generation will be bleak.

  31. Voting Republican or Democrat will solve nothing because both are controlled by the banking cartel. “Give me control of a countries currency and I care not who make it’s laws” – J.D. Rockefeller

    Also both tickets have no new ideas or solutions to offer. And if they did offer them they would end up just as J.F.K. did.

    John Galt- Where has he gone?

  32. I just wanted to add that perhaps the best hope right now is for libertarians and other freedom loving folks to support Ron Paul in the Republican primary. There are so many of us that would like to see this country returned to one with limited government that abides by its charter. Dividing ourselves into a multitude of “third” parties may not be the best way to go. Backing someone with the record that Rep. Paul has in the primaries would be a good way to direct our energies. If he doesn’t get the nomination, though, then it’s back to third parties since there’s no way in hell a liberty-conscious individual could ever pull the lever for McCain (who hates free speech) or Giuliani (who loves gun control).

  33. Hey if you read the military times there si a mass exodus of our troops from the republican party as well.

    However southPark republicans try to spin anything Dem into a Scandal while overlooking Bush’s Illegal signing statments, Illegal wirretapping, Alberto gonzales’ testimony that Bush directly obstructed justice in the illegal wiretapping investigation making that a double felony.

    Basically the republicans, the so called party of personal responsibility, have done nothing but find new ways of blaming everyone else for anything that goes wrong. Not really a political ideology if you ask me. just a bunch of pathetic losers.

  34. Wow. I’m glad your nephew got off. I wonder if you’ve thought about how many other people are out there trying to make sense of other nonsensical laws.

    Example: I know a lot of paralyzed people because my husband is one of them. He is “lucky”; he can walk with a cane. My friend’s husband died from complications due to paralysis after suffering for 4 years. They had been good citizens, paying taxes and saving for retirement when an accident that was nobody’s fault put him into a wheelchair.

    Goodbye, savings.
    Goodbye, ability to work.

    Medicaid? Ha! That’s for people with no assets. MY friends had to spend everything they had saved . . . if they’d been crack dealers, they would have been taken care of, courtesy of you and me.

    Cure? Many promising therapies are gathering dust because our system allows a vocal minority to overwhelm the will of the majority.

    That’s just one example from an area unrelated to your life situation. The bottom line is that we have a government that is neither efficient nor fair, which is how the 2 major parties try to define themselves. I’m sure your readers could give you a hundred examples of other ways in which insanity rules.

  35. As long as the parties remain the important entities in politics, then the people never will be. Everything – absolutely every single act of the legislative and executive branches – has always been about the will of the political parties. On those occasions that the parties manage to perform the will of the people, it is by coincidence or by design, never because it’s the right thing to do. From the perspective of someone who truly opposes the party system itself, the Democrats have at least stayed fractious and self-opposed enough to not be much of a threat – their corruption is limited by their weaknesses. The Republicans, though – in particular, this administration – has perfected the art of dividing their enemy, the public. By honing their “wedge issues,” a term that I first learned from Bush’s 2000 campaign, they drove the wedge into American society so deep that any real healing or uniting might no longer be possible or plausible. While the Republicans have since rallied around abortion, national security, immigration, flag burning, and gay marriage, Democrats feebly tried to follow suit by using their own wedge issues, like embryonic stem cell research, taxes (odd that this became a Democratic issue!), and the corruption of the Republican party. And while all these politicians go around trying to divide the American people, folks just like you – people who are so devoted to a party that they’re willing to ignore the plain facts in front of them for the sake of loyalty and political strength – eagerly swallow each and every lie, half-truth and doublespeak rather than question the integrity of your manipulative heroes. Face it: the current sad state of politics, and the future of mudslinging, mob rule, and constitutional ignorance has been nurtured, bottle-fed, and tenderly cared for by Bush and his cronies, who have every reason to want the American public divided, confused, and distracted. The Democrats are little better – they’re just not as competent at being so manipulative. And yes, this goes all the way to the issue of overly-harsh drug penalties, and the people that have been convinced that these penalties are the only things standing between America and a dystopian, drug-addled future – which is pure balderdash; it’s just a way to work the electorate into a frothy fervor that doesn’t have anything to do with political corruption and having to defend their own sorry asses.

  36. Steve,

    Over here in the UK, the leader of the Conservative party has “yet to deny” allegations that he smoked mary jane whilst still at school. The resounding response from the party, from parliament and from the press has been So frickin’ What? We have very confusing drug policies here but nothing comparable to the industrialized insanity you guys have going on. Somebody mentioned the under thirties rising to the challenge of remaking the political landscape and I believe very strongly that we have no choice in the matter. If we don’t reverse the damage being wrought in our name on our freedom and democracy our children will suffer the consequences.

    I doubt many (former) Reps are aware of this song by System of a Down. I believe it sums up the situation:
    They’re trying to build a prison,
    They’re trying to build a prison,

    Following the rights movements
    You clamped on with your iron fists,
    Drugs became conveniently
    Available for all the kids,
    Following the rights movements
    You clamped on with your iron fists,
    Drugs became conveniently
    Available for all the kids,

    I buy my crack, my smack, my bitch,
    Right here in Hollywood,

    Nearly 2 million Americans are incarcerated
    In the prison system,
    Prison system of the U.S.

    They’re trying to build a prison,
    They’re trying to build a prison,
    They’re trying to build a prison, (for you and me to live in)
    Another prison system,
    Another prison system,
    Another prison system. (for you and me to live in)

    Minor drug offenders fill your prisons
    You don’t even flinch
    All our taxes paying for your wars
    Against the new non-rich,
    Minor drug offenders fill your prisons
    You don’t even flinch
    All our taxes paying for your wars
    Against the new non-rich,

    I buy my crack, my smack, my bitch,
    Right here in Hollywood,

    The percentage of Americans in the prison system
    Prison system, has doubled since 1985,

    They’re trying to build a prison,
    They’re trying to build a prison,
    They’re trying to build a prison, (for you and me to live in)
    Another prison system,
    Another prison system,
    Another prison system. (for you and me to live in)
    For you and I, for you and I , for you and I.

    They’re trying to build a prison,
    They’re trying to build a prison,
    They’re trying to build a prison,
    For you and me,
    Oh baby, you and me.

    All research and successful drug policy show
    That treatment should be increased,
    And law enforcement decreased,
    While abolishing mandatory minimum sentences,
    All research and successful drug policy show
    That treatment should be increased,
    And law enforcement decreased,
    While abolishing mandatory minimum sentences.

    Utilizing drugs to pay for secret wars around the world,
    Drugs are now your global policy,
    Now you police the globe,

    I buy my crack, my smack, my bitch,
    Right here in Hollywood,

    Drug money is used to rig elections,
    And train brutal corporate sponsored
    Dictators around the world.

    They’re trying to build a prison,
    They’re trying to build a prison,
    They’re trying to build a prison, (for you and me to live in)
    Another prison system,
    Another prison system,
    Another prison system. (for you and me to live in)
    For you and I, for you and I , for you and I.
    They’re trying to build a prison,
    They’re trying to build a prison,
    They’re trying to build a prison,
    For you and me,
    Oh baby, you and me.

  37. The growth of one always is entwined with ones personal experiences, and most of us feel strongly the way or the other until something like this happens, a member of our family undergoes the same treatment we have wished for others in the past. Of course this is totally natural but it always looks a bit bad when someone turns his coat like that.
    Dont take this the wrong way i am 100% on the writers side, the punishment doesent in any way correlate to the severity of the crime.
    But there is still the fact that a crime has occured no matter how you look at it and there should be a punishment of some sort. And i wont start to rant about how messed up this whole “no mushrooms , no crime” kind of use of your 4th amendment is. Im just happy that this doesent happen in scandinavia.

  38. no institution should be able to tell me what i can and can’t do to my body.
    “drugs destroy lives”? i call bullsh!t. ABUSE of drugs can destroy lives. used with a bit of wisdom, psychedelics are VERY safe, much safer than alcohol use.
    drop acid, not bombs!

  39. well i’m not a registered anything these days and generally consider myself a no government leftist, but if you want a party to join in minnesota, this is a plank from the minnesota greens platform and i’m sure it would’ve helped out your nephew had policies similar been enacted previously.

    3b. Drug abuse. Drug abuse of all kinds should be treated as a disease, rather than a criminal offense. We support the decriminalization of personal possession of non-addictive drugs.

    (from http://www.mngreens.org/platform.php )

  40. Drug abuse should not be consider a disease. It should be consider a) a stupid thing b) a costly thing for society deal with and c) a treatable problem.

    Basically, there needs to be some punishment, for our sweet beloved ones who do something stupid. Otherwise, they’ll commit again. That addresses the stupid part.

    Secondly, because drug users are, no matter what, going to cost the rest of us a bunch of money, we may as well suck it up, and pay as little as possible to keep the drug-use cost down. This means that drug users don’t get to go to prison: that is high cost, both at the margin and in recividism. Nope, make the druggie pay their own freight in a variety of programs. If they can’t pay, then we pay through taxes, but it still should be far cheaper than the stupid mess it is right now.

    That brings me to the third element: if you can cure a dopefiend, and you can, costs plummet, and so, miraculously, does stupidity.

    It isn’t a perfect system, but it is a “more perfect” one.

    As a Republican, I didn’t realize I had to automatically enact or support stupid laws.

    Up in Minnesota, Judge Rosenbaum, a Reagan appointee, got into very hot water with a Republican Congress, because he refused to allow congress to dictate by fiat, sentencing restrictions. So a Reaganite judge duked it out, and won an important political contest of wills with nominal “small governement” Republicans.

    The fact of it is, the sentencing guidelines are a copout for RINOs. Any Republican dedicated to the principle of small government wants to puke on the draconian “Sentencing Guidelines’ illegally imposed by our elected lapdogs.

  41. Steve – great post as always.

    I continue to be amazed at those who passionately toe the line that runs from left to right. They pretend as though that is the only dimension to be measured.

    I also stand slack-jawed and awed at how they attack people like you and Keith Thompson, who have demonstrated the temerity to step outside that one-dimensional worldview and see it all in a new way.

    Don’t sweat the small minds who want to drag you back into Flatland. Politics and Policy in 3-D makes so much more sense.

  42. Ike,
    It doesn’t ‘get’ to me. It surprises me a bit, but it doesn’t sway me from my goals.

    Thanks for your support.

    Your 3-D metaphor is accurate. But for simplicity, I like what Eric said about it being 2-D…

    I think that our national political scene is shifting from a liberal/conservative conflict towards a libertarian/authoritarian dichotomy. If we keep heading down the road to authoritarianism (whether that of the left or the right), the future for the next generation will be bleak.

    The major parties are both highly Authoritarian. It’s just become an argument about what parts of people’s lives to control. I’ve never liked this Liberal/Conservative conflict. In the strictest sense of the terms, they are both liberal and conservative, which leaves real liberals no home. I don’t think American liberals realize how conservative they are.

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