Ron Paul, Conservatives and the War on Drugs
I’ve often argued that for every supposedly “controversial” position Ron Paul holds amongst Republicans, you can find some of the most iconic names in the conservative movement agreeing with Dr. Paul on these issues. Russell Kirk (the man most responsible for “conservative” becoming a popular term) agreed with Ron Paul on foreign policy and even concepts like “blowback.” Jack Kemp and Robert Novak were both opposed to the Iraq War from the beginning, just as Paul was. It’s no secret that Pat Buchanan and Ron Paul share very similar foreign policy views. Toward the end of his life, Buckley was essentially calling Bush’s foreign policy liberal. Today, George Will is perhaps as fierce a critic of our mindless ongoing presence in Afghanistan as Paul.
Foreign policy is an issue many conventional conservatives have taken issue with Ron Paul on, despite the fact that some of conservatism’s most famous figures have agreed with Paul on the issue.
The same is true of the War on Drugs.
Ron Paul is right when he says that the federal War on Drugs has been an abysmal failure. William F. Buckley and National Review were right when they said the same thing in 1996. Milton Friedman was right when he said the same thing in 1972 when President Nixon created the federal War on Drugs.
Despite having some major conservative intellectual backup on this issue, changing conservatives’ minds about it will likely not happen overnight. As Dr. Paul said about raising awareness about the Federal Reserve issue yesterday “I’d like to say that we’re on the verge of total victory — we’re not. We’re on an incremental victory” the same will be true of progress made on failed federal drug prohibition.
Reports The Hill today:
A bipartisan group of House members has proposed legislation that would make it easier for people to defend themselves in federal cases for possessing marijuana, if they can show that they are using marijuana for medical purposes in line with relevant state laws.
The Hill headline emphasizes that this legislation was co-sponsored by Ron Paul and Barney Frank. No surprise there. The more significant part of the story is Paul’s Republican co-sponsors:
Other Republicans on the bill are Reps. Dana Rohrabacher (R-Calif.) and Justin Amash (R-Mich.).
Amash and Rohrabacher are not moderate Republicans, but strong conservatives. True, this is only three conservative Republicans promoting a bill that merely protects medical marijuana patients. But it is three more (or at least two more) Republicans than you would have seen taking such a stance before Ron Paul became a household name.
Recent polls have shown that more Americans than ever are fed up with the failed War on Drugs, with 18-29 years olds comprising the most irritated portion of the populace. These are the same young people who now flock to Ron Paul and his message.
I see an opportunity in the years to come for more conservatives to take a stand on what will increasingly become the winning side of this battle–ending the federal War on Drugs, standing up for states’ rights on substance laws, and getting rid of what is essentially modern day Prohibition.
Ron Paul will be leaving Congress at the end of this term. But on this issue, as will be the case with so many other issues, many Americans–including conservative Republicans–will look back knowing that Ron Paul was right.