Sunday, June 04, 2006

How to Sabotage Your Election Campaign in One Easy Step

Want to make a political statement, yet ensure that the public will avoid your name on the ballot come election day? Simply center your campaign platform around ending the Drug War.

Take the three candidates mentioned in this article from stopthedrugwar.org. Loretta Nall, gubernatorial candidate in Alabama, Cliff Thornton, gubernatorial candidate in Connecticut, and Maryland Senate candidate Kevin Zeese have all decided to make drug reform a load-bearing plank in their campaign platforms.

From stopthedrugwar.org's article:

While the odds of any of them actually winning their races are long, all three told DRCNet they are in it to win -- and to show the major parties they risk voter defections if they fail to address growing public disaffection with the drug war. And while none of them are so far being accorded the dignity of having their candidacies measured by major opinion polls, all hope to break that barrier between now and November.

I really have to wonder just how many voters out there want major legal reform to drug laws, and how much of a dent their limited-issue candidacies will make against the two major parties. Between their views on drug reform, their public conduct and their political affiliations all three candidates will have a hard time winning converts from the Republican and Democratic parties.

Loretta Nall (via stopthedrugwar.org):

Although running under the Libertarian banner, Nall doesn't quite fit the mold. "I'm a libertarian, but not a big L one. In fact, I find myself agreeing with liberal Democrats more than anybody. I would say I'm liberal socially and conservative fiscally," she said. "I want our Alabama National Guard troops out of Iraq, and that resonates -- if the rednecks down here are tired of whipping brown skinned peoples' asses [Iraqis], Washington needs to take notice," she said. "We also need to make biodiesel a big issue -- we can't afford this $2.50 a gallon for gas business. And we need education reform and Washington out of our classrooms."

Cliff Thornton (via stopthedrugwar.org):

For Thornton, who has made a career of calling for an end to prohibitionist drug policies, hammering at the issue makes perfect sense. "Drug policy is a big part of my campaign. That's what I'm known for. Cliff Thornton and drug policy do not separate. After all, drug policy is two degrees from everything. Transportation issues and full health care for all in Connecticut are not drug policy issues, but again we're talking about the money. Programs don't happen because we're spending money on the drug war."

Kevin Zeese (via stopthedrugwar.org):

For Zeese, the campaign is much broader than drug policy. "I focus a lot on the Iraq war, the divide between rich and poor, and the corruption of our political system," he said. "I talk about how people feel unrepresented, and I hit my common themes on justice issues, civil liberties, the Patriot Act, and the drug war, but the two big issues are war and peace and rich and poor."

Right from the starting gate, all three candidates have placed themselves at odds with factions within both major parties. Nall might have scored points with the Republican faithful by calling for educational reform to devolve power to state and local governments, but she sure as heck won't see many converts from the Democratic side with that position. Thornton backs expanded medical coverage for all Connecticut citizens, a stance which will definitely turn away fiscally conservative voters from both parties, and especially voters from the Republican side of the aisle. Zeese admits his campaign issues often boil down to class conflict and racial conflict, which will almost inevitably split voters from both major parties. Thornton and Zeese also have the problem of the Green Party's affiliation with their candidacies, which by name alone should deter many a fiscal conservative (and Republicans in general) from breaking ranks and voting for a third party.

Even if any of the candidates manage to score political points with disenchanted voters in the major parties over the marijuana and drug issues, can the candidates really separate their position on drug laws from the rest of their campaign planks? Thornton and Nall readily admit that their various campaign issues are more or less impossible to separate from drug issues, leaving them effectively single-issue campaigns, and held to the mercy of public opinion on the drug issue.

The point about grabbing votes from the Republicans and the Democrats may be moot, however, if the public does not want drugs legalized and/or decriminalized, marijuana included. Polls over the last few years indicate that a sizeable portion of the public still supports retaining criminal sanctions for drug offenses.

Take the February 2001 poll cited here by the PublicAgenda.org. When asked to choose between viewing drug use as criminal behavior or the symptoms of a disease, fifty-two percent of respondents believed drug use to be a disease, with thirty-five percent of respondents siding with drug use as a criminal act and nine percent believing drug use to be both a disease and a crime. Yet, when asked if moving away from mandatory minimum sentences for drug offenses was a good idea, only forty-seven percent responded affirmatively, with forty-five percent siding with the mandatory minimum sentences.

A poll conducted in San Diego during late 2005 found similar splits over drugs. Over half the respondents believed that marijuana should not be legalized, including forty-four percent of respondents who admitted to previously smoking marijuana. Marijuana use was also fairly close between Republicans and Democrats, with forty-two percent and fifty-two percent of respondents, respectively.

The numbers provided by the San Diego poll show just how gloomy the outlook probably is for drug reform candidates. Even among people who had previously tried marijuana, much less other drugs, a large portion of people didn't want to see marijuana legalized. If reform crusaders can only stoke lukewarm support among people who have tried marijuana, and more than forty percent of the public believes drug use to be criminal behavior, the chances of gaining election to office, much less succeeding at enacting reforms, are slim at best.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Irzan said...

Greetings. I read her full speech and i think it's nonsense. The last thing you'd want to do when you want to eradicate something is by making it legal. Btw adults don't really know how to think anyways. Or else there wouldn't be 50% divorce in the US.

I posted some criticism in my blog about her ;)

3:01 PM  
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2:20 PM  

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