Tag Archives: drug legalization

The Path to the White House for Libertarians

The votes have been tallied, and Former governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld are officially the Libertarian Party’s (LP) nominees for President and Vice President respectively.

Bill Weld - LP VP Nominee (Left) and Gary Johnson LP POTUS Nominee (Right)
Bill Weld – LP VP Nominee (Left) and Gary Johnson LP POTUS Nominee (Right)

Gary Johnson was the LP nominee last election cycle as well, where he garnered a mere 0.99% (1,275,923 votes). While that may not sound like much, as it turns out, it was the highest number ever attained by a Libertarian candidate in its 45 year history.

So how do we take this momentum to the house? I’d like to outline a few simple points.

Take the High Road and Act Like You Belong Here

Sadly, we libertarians are used to being a fringe group, and our party being a fringe party. As such, often what we say or do garners little attention from the media because we simply aren’t deemed viable by most of them yet. So there’s little repercussions for behaving badly as a result.

One way to get attention when you aren’t getting it through normal means, is to behave abnormally. But I caution libertarians not to fall into this trap. Thanks to the poor choices from the DNC and RNC faithful, the attention has shifted to us organically. Behaving abnormally garnered those two party’s a lot of attention, but it isn’t good and people are looking for alternatives.

So if we’re to be deemed the party of reason, we have to distance ourselves from people like James Weeks, who serve as a pure embarrassment, and will surely set our movement back. We must be on our best behavior 24/7 if we want to win, because our detractors are just waiting for us to behave inappropriately and pounce on it.

Our message of liberty and freedom is exactly what our founding fathers envisioned when they declared independence and subsequently drafted a constitution to limit the government’s power over the people. Everyone inherently wants to be free—we don’t have to sell people on that. We simply have to explain to them that they’ve slowly and deceptively been robbed of their liberty through the years, and we want to give it back.

Now that we’re getting attention, the best thing we can do is be the adults in the room. While Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton sling insults like a monkey in a cage slings poo, we must to be the party of reason and critical thinking. We know our ideas aren’t radical, and I think most of us agree that the majority of people are already libertarians and just don’t know it. But behaving radically will make independents question those ideals, because they won’t want to be associated with “whack jobs.”

Avoid The Anarchy Trap

Another important group we have to distance ourselves from are anarchists. Especially those wearing the Guy Fawkes masks.

Person wearing a Guy Fawkes Mask
Person wearing a Guy Fawkes Mask

Aside from the fact that Guy Fawkes wasn’t a libertarian, he was simply someone who wanted to trade one theocracy for another, and murder people to do it, it’s creepy to outsiders. If you come off like someone who wants to “burn it all down,” no reasonable person will side with you. So for the love of the movement, lose the mask and be that person which supports a government to protect our rights, but ONLY protect our rights.

On a personal note, I’d also like to point out that wearing a mask reeks of being too cowardly to promote your ideas openly and honestly. If you believe in what we’re doing, use your real name, and show your face. Let people know you’re a real person who’s really a libertarian, and your proud of it.

Lose The Conspiracy Theories

I get it, you hate government, and therefore want to believe any story about government doing evil things. But the fact remains that conspiracy theories are almost entirely fictional. There have been conspiracies that were uncovered like Watergate or the Lewinsky affair, but try to think of a conspiracy theory that was put out into the world, then evidence came to light about it afterwards—it simply never happens.

From the faked moon landing, to the idea that 9/11 was orchestrated by anyone other than Al Qaeda, if you believe that, you’re being supremely ignorant. All of these have been thoroughly debunked by a myriad of well-respected independent science universities and publications to the point that only the willfully ignorant, or the vehemently unscientific still believe them. But if you insist on believing such things, at least know most don’t, and promoting those ideas will hurt our cause. (See video above regarding the 9/11 myth)

Give Real Examples

It’s important when promoting liberty, that you give examples that people can relate to. For instance, we libertarians often talk about people dying to enforce irrational laws, and most just roll their eyes thinking we’re making stuff up. But there are real examples, like Eric Garner, who was killed because police were enforcing the sale of untaxed cigarettes.

Some may blame the police, but the fact remains that if New York respected it’s citizen’s rights to engage in dangerous behavior (smoking), and thus didn’t have ridiculous additional taxes on cigarettes in the first place, this would never have happened.

Police rarely kill citizens for no reason, they kill because they were called to enforce laws. So it’s important to push the idea that if we’re going to pass a law, it should be a law we’re comfortable with the police killing someone who fails to comply; such as rape, theft, murder, child molestation, etc.

How To Explain The Legalization of Vices

When promoting legalization of vices like drugs, prostitution, gambling, etc., be sure to point out that doesn’t mean you’re advocating them. Maybe even go a step further and argue that people probably shouldn’t do them. But instead, promote that idea that you’re just not comfortable killing people who do them, or throwing them in jail and ruining their lives for such actions.1427760478737[1]

I know there are a lot of new medicinal uses for marijuana being discovered, but there’s no recreational use that’s healthy. It’s important you do not promote these things as if they’re things we should all do. Acknowledge that you understand such things are unhealthy or risky, but that because there is no victim in such things, we shouldn’t pass laws to prevent people from doing them.

Instead, we should pass laws that prosecute people who violate the rights of others while doing them. For instance, we don’t make alcohol illegal, but drunk driving is. That same logic can be applied to all vices, and it’s a far safer and more reasonable alternative than outright banning vices, as evidenced by prohibition.

Many crimes and deaths that result from such vices are because of the laws preventing them, not the usage itself. It’s imperative that this be our reason for promoting legalization, because it shows we’re concerned about others versus simply wanting them legalized for selfish reason that we want to engage in such behavior without penalty ourselves.

Be Reasonable

The last point I wish to make is to be reasonable with your ideas. People don’t typically like change, they’re often scared of it. If you propose radical change right away, the voters we need to win, will run away in droves.

This is why Governors Gary Johnson and Bill Weld might be the best candidates we’ve ever had. Not because they’re the perfect libertarians, but they’re the perfect bridge from Republicans to Libertarians. If they win, and do what they’ve done as governors, it will turn our country away from oppression, and back towards liberty in a very meaningful way. Then in 2020 or 2024, maybe we can elect a more libertarian Libertarian (small “L” is someone who is libertarian, capital “L” is someone who is part of the Libertarian Party) once people realize liberty is something worth fighting for again.

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America: Safety Second!

Your humble correspondent has many favorite pass-times. At the top of my list is autocross racing; a form of road racing for beginners—using their own cars to get the thrill of something like Formula 1, without the $100 million dollar budget, death-defying 200+ mph speeds, or the need to be the best driver in the world. See the video below for a short, but wonderful documentary on autocross. If you like motorsports, I encourage you to check out your local SCCA or NASA (not that NASA) club and check it out. It’s cheap yet awesome!

Before every event, they have a driver’s meeting where the person running the event (a volunteer) lays out the plans for the day, and the safety steward (also a volunteer) explains the rules of safety.

One of these officers from the events I went to, one Jon Beerman, would always say, “Safety second! If we put safety first, we wouldn’t be out here doing this in the first place.” Jon has a crazy fast Corvette, and if you know me or follow me on Twitter, you know I have a deep love for all things Corvette, so this makes Jon a well respected man in my book straight away.

Jon Beerman and his Corvette of Death
Jon Beerman and his Corvette of Death

All kidding aside, I always thought this was pretty insightful of him, but also, a great analogy for the American spirit. We were a country born out of a passion for freedom. The freedom to do something really dumb, adventurous, dangerous, and/or even crazy (as long as you don’t hurt anyone doing it). Why would you do such a thing? Why not?!

The crew from the Jackass movies, for instance, put their lives and limbs on the line, just to make a living entertaining us. Nothing they do is ever advisable, and certainly isn’t safe. But obviously they are doing what they love for a living, and those of us who find it entertaining are thankful they do. But if all we cared about was safety, nothing like that would ever exist. Thankfully, both the Jackasses and us viewers live a happier life, in some small part, because they do.

The Cast from Jackass
The Cast from Jackass

Yet these days, that concept seems to be lost on most Americans as we strive to put warning labels on everything, barricade our children into the house until they’re 18, pass laws to erase any ounce of danger in life (even if we’re only endangering ourselves), and generally destroy anything that is fun in the name of safety.

The whole point of freedom is the ability to do things that other people might not think you should do, but so long as you’re not hurting someone doing it, you should happily be able to do so with no impediment from government.

Whether it be currently legal activities like skydiving and/or road racing, or things currently illegal like using recreational drugs, gambling, hiring a prostitute, or all of the above. It’s your life, you should be free to live it as you see fit.

As with most all things, we’re dealing with a simple trade off. You can lead a riskier life you enjoy more, but may die younger as a result. Or you can lead a more sterile life, live longer, but be miserable doing so.

After reading that last paragraph, you’ve probably thought about it and picked one life or the other for yourself. But here’s the thing that you should really think about. Whichever you picked, you have no right to dictate that someone else pick the same for themselves.

If you opted to go the Evel Knievel route, great! Have fun and good luck. The funny thing about such daredevils, is that they rarely, if ever, try to force that lifestyle on you. Some of them do their shenanigans in public and risk the populace around them, which I would never condone—that’s criminal, violates the rights to life of others, and they rightfully should be locked up.

Evel Knievel Crash - Wembley Stadium
Evel Knievel Crash – Wembley Stadium

But at the opposite end of the spectrum, those who think risk-taking is always bad and avoid them at all costs, love to vote on legislation to ensure you lead their sanitized lifestyle.

It can be something as benign as a helmet or seat belt law, or as intrusive as the aforementioned drug, prostitution, or other vice laws.

If you know a few friends who like to sit around and get high; you know they rarely if ever, hurt anyone. So how is it the business of anyone else if they do that to themselves? I know it’s popular opinion among those who aren’t around such people, mostly based on folklore, that people who sell or use drugs are violent killers, but most are just trying to pay a few bills, and escape the miseries of life peacefully.

While Hollywood paints prostitution to be a crime ridden enterprise, the fact is that many of the consumers are just lonely guys, maybe not very attractive, who want to know what it’s like to be with a beautiful woman, and often treat the providers fairly respectfully.

Here’s where the illegality part becomes the problem. If the consumers are abusive, the laws against prostitution actually work against the victims, because they cannot call the police to help them without admitting they were engaging in prostitution.

Some areas stipulate police cannot check a person’s immigration status if that person calls the police to report a crime, because we want those people to report those crimes without fear of deportation. Yet somehow, if someone’s rights are violated during a vice encounter such as drugs or prostitution, now the same legislators don’t seem to care.

It’s rather hypocritical, quite immoral, and nearly unconstitutional to worry about the rights of someone who isn’t a citizen, yet care less about the rights of someone who is, just because they were engaging in behavior you think is wrong.

So I will always argue that America should be safety second, and enjoy your life to the fullest should be the resounding first.

 

 

 

It’s A Free Country… Or Is It? The Powerful but Forgotten 9th Amendment

Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)
Gary Nolan (and THE Scrappy Doo)

The enumeration in the Constitution of certain rights shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people. – US Constitution 9th Amendment

Imagine a family of ten children. Nine of them are very good-looking but not all that bright; however, the average looking one is the brainiac of the family with a 150 IQ. All the others will get attention for their beauty and elegance even though the ugly duckling, that is often ignored, should be the star of the show because they bring the most value to the table. This is how I feel about our Ninth Amendment.36508_490192697685638_337128855_n[1]

I always clarify that I have never used, nor have any desire to use, recreational drugs. But as a libertarian, I feel that many of them should be legal. I was debating this with someone and he asked me to make a case as to why they should be legal. There should never be a conservative among you that makes a constitutionally based argument against legalization because it is fundamentally wrong, based on the Ninth Amendment.

The generally accepted meaning behind the Ninth Amendment is extremely important. The framers wanted to ensure that the Constitution wasn’t a document that granted rights to the people, but instead a document that limited the powers of government over the people. We the people have the inalienable rights, and we the people decide how we wish to be governed. The Ninth Amendment is  saying, in essence, that one should assume they have the right to do something unless there are laws specifically forbidding it.

So, when asked by my friend to defend legalization, my response was that it was not my burden to make such a case in a free country. It was his burden to explain how and why a specific drug’s use by one person infringes upon the rights of another and thus should be illegal.

Marijuana Harvest
Marijuana Harvest

I’m not trying to make a case here for drug legalization specifically—he might have made a good case, so we’ll save that argument for another day. Instead, what I implore of every legislator is to employ the paradigm the framers of our Constitution did when they envisioned this great nation—the idea that all actions should be legal by default and should only be outlawed once a proper case has been made to do so.

Our Declaration of Independence indicated we all should have the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. The Constitution replaced pursuit of happiness with property. So a proper argument for making something illegal should be restricted to actions which deny those rights accordingly.

For example, If I drink and get inebriated at home, it is not a crime since no one else is being harmed. If I drink and drive my car, however, I’m putting the lives of others at a scientifically demonstrable greater risk due to my impaired ability, which potentially infringes upon their right to life. Thus, it is rightfully illegal.drunk-driving2[1]

I think it’s easy to put any proposed law up to that light and realize that, if it is limiting someone’s right to life, liberty, happiness, and/or property, and it is not protecting one person from another person, then it has no place being a law and should be voted down no matter how well-meaning its intentions may be.

Morality is a relative term. For instance, I think facial cosmetic surgery is immoral for doctors to perform (accident victims excluded) and utterly stupid. One look at Mickey Rourke, Jerry Jones, Joan Rivers, and everyone else who has had it done that now looks like a side-show attraction should be a lesson to everyone to accept what nature gives you. If I had a loved one wanting to do it, I’d want to shake the stupid right out of them. Why would a doctor who has sworn first to do no harm, take a reasonably good-looking person and make them look like they’re skydiving horizontally 24/7?

Mickey Rourke
Mickey Rourke

However, proponents often feel there is improvement gained from these procedures and the victims, oops, I mean patients, are occasionally pleased with the results. So what I think is immoral, some think is perfectly fine and good. While I will vigorously encourage anyone I care about not to do it, do I think the government should make cosmetic surgery illegal? Of course not! I hope you wouldn’t either. Morality is best regulated through social and peer pressure, not government regulation.

So how are vices, which are almost always victimless crimes, any different? I’d sooner argue that one look at Mickey Rourke indicates he’s a victim before I’d argue that you or anyone else is a victim as a result of a pot smoker’s indulgence. I defy anyone to argue differently.

My argument was intended to be humorous, but the fact is that morality varies from person to person. Any time you try to legislate personal behavior for the sake of morality, you’re infringing on someone’s right to the pursuit of happiness. You’re saying that they have to be more like you BY LAW whether that makes them happy or not. It has little to do with public safety no matter how loud the left and some social conservatives say so.  Does that really sound like freedom and liberty to anyone?

One of America’s greatest attributes is its diversity. Victimless crimes curb that diversity by trying to get everyone to conform to the majority. We have a republic, not a democracy, because our Constitution protects the minority from the majority. A victimless crime, by definition, should be unconstitutional. So please stop trying to make people exactly like you and, instead, just enjoy the freak show. It’s not hurting anyone, and you might have a little fun!