Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Are Republicans really going to make marijuana legalization an issue in 2014? They must be high!

If Chris Christie is running for president, I'd advise him to get some new advisors quick. The other day, for no apparent reason, he decided to piss off all of Colorado by saying that the quality of life here is sub-par, because marijuana is now legal here. I must say, being called sub-par compared to New Jersey is quite an insult.

Aside from that, nationwide only 16% of Americans believe marijuana should remain illegal. You need to run a nationwide campaign, genius. Even if you don't support the popular view on this one, why not just shut up about it?

Republicans are in a good position going into November 2014. The President's approval ratings are low. He wont help his party win any seats. Obamacare a.k.a. The Affordable Care Act, is as unpopular as ever and is the sole property of the Democrats. The economy is sluggish, to put it nicely and we don't seem to have a foreign policy. If the Republicans could put forth some positive replacement legislation for Obamacare as well as some pro-growth initiatives, like lower tax rates, a simplified tax system, less regulation, cutting out waste and overlap in government and things of that nature, they could win big.

However, it seems the move in many states to legalize marijuana for medicinal and for recreational use, has caused the party to lose its collective mind. The alleged champions of individual freedom just can't live with the idea that someone might be getting high in the comfort of their own home, without hiding in the garage to do it. Never mind that alcohol is infinitely more deadly and dangerous and that Americans are not up in arms over the new and flourishing marijuana industry. Many Republicans and right wing pundits have decided to forego economics and limited government issues in favor of an all out jihad against marijuana. Maybe they misunderstood. Marijuana use is legal here. It's not mandatory.

In any case, if the GOP decides to promise to crack down on pot smoking in the upcoming election, I can almost guarantee they'll be able to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. Most people don't watch the daily soap opera that is political news every day. But even folks who don't partake of weed understand the implementation of government force when they see it. Promise to close down stores and throw people in jail over marijuana because you feel like people shouldn't use it and see how that works out for you. Put a picture of Chris Christie next to Tommy Chong in handcuffs and see how many people that endears you to.

I would love to see the country take a hard right, economically speaking, this Fall. But I fear reefer madness may result in at least 2 more years of the status quo.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

The real battle within the Republican Party

If you follow political theater, you've probably heard about the big battle within the Republican Party between the "old guard" and the Tea Party, or the moderates and the extremes. The actual battle within the party is more complex and more intersting. It's between the Conservatives, which includes the religious right, the Tea Party, The Progressives (who prefer to be called moderates) and the Libertarians.

The Progressives want to progress toward a more and more government centered society. Specifically, a Federal Government centered society. Conservatives would say they favor traditional family values, a strong military, and fiscal responsiblity. The religious right became a big player in the 80's when they came out for Ronald Reagan. They are steadfastly pro-life, anti-gay and promote what they deem to be Judeo-Christian values. The Tea Party came about in 2008 and 2009 in response to the bail outs. Their issues are smaller, limited government, adherence to the Constitution and smaller balanced budgets. Then you have the Libertarians who recognize that government is needed to referee interactions and trade between individuals and to protect the nation from foreign enemies, but would like to see as little government possible at the lowest possible cost.

Progressive Republicans differ from Progressive Democrats in that they realize lower taxes don't mean lower revenues. They wont come out and say out loud that they want big government, but while you may see taxes go down under Progressive Republican leadership, you will not see government get smaller. Conservatives can work with Progressive Republicans so long as a good portion of the growth of government comes in the form of military spending. The religious right can go along with all of that as long as the party remains pro-life and anti-gay and supports Judeo Christian values. The Tea Party was at first welcomed into the party tent because, frankly, they needed the votes. The smaller government thing seemed to match up okay with lower taxes, however, it turns out when the Tea Party said smaller government, they meant smaller government. This is not sitting well with some of the other factions within the party. They also have not officially adopted the more socially conservative stances on issues like abortion and gay marriage. They've pretty much stuck to the Constitution and fiscal issues.  The Libertarian wing can work well with the Tea Party, but also has a tough time with the Conservatives and the Progressives when it comes to the size and scope of government. Libertarians are flat out in 180 degree opposition with Conservatives on social issues. They believe individuals may disagree with each other, but it's just none of the government's business.

So you have at least four factions currently duking it out within the Party. Something has to give. You can't have a party that marries Libertarians with Progressives, big government with small government, individual freedom with adherence to social dogma. I wont have the audacity to declare (publicly) who is right or predict who will win this war, but until a coalition of compatible forces gets the upper hand, it's not likely Republicans will do well, even if they manage to gain power as a party. Their agenda will remain a confusing mish-mash of conflicting statements, positions and contradictory actions and strategies. That's not sustainable for a major national political infrastructure, so eventually somebody's going to win. In the meantime, it will certainly be fun to watch.