Everyone knows the parable of the emperor with no clothes. The significance of a child being the one to point out the emperor's nudity, as opposed to a sermonizing preacher or self-righteous intellectual, is simple to understand. Neither morality nor logic was responsible for stripping the emperor's veil of falsehood. All it took was the truth.
One can't help but think of this when considering Gary Johnson, the Republican governor of New Mexico, who, despite pressure from power brokers at the top of his own party, has proclaimed that the emperor that is this country's war on drugs is not only naked to the world, but that its body is festering with the sores of moral decay and corruption. In the governor's own words, "The drug problem is getting worse. It's not getting better ... It needs to get talked about, and one of the things that's going to get talked about is decriminalization."
He continues: "What I'm trying to do here is launch discussion ... I think it is the number one problem facing this country today... We really need to put all options on the table" (Albuquerque Journal, June 24, 1999).
Not wishing to make a statement without providing viable ideas to support it, Johnson said that changing laws regarding the possession of marijuana would be a logical "first step" since pot is "probably the least dangerous of the identified narcotic drugs that we have" (Albuquerque Journal, July 1, 1999 and Hobbs News-Sun, July 2, 1999).
Johnson is not simply grandstanding, as the facts of the situation point out clearly. Despite massive expenditures, the simple fact is that the war on drugs is a total failure. There is more, not less, drug-related violent crime in the United States today than 30 years ago. Far from protecting citizens, the war has spurred unwarranted searches, asset forfeitures and the imprisonment of literally millions of stable and productive Americans.
Of course, many people have closed their eyes to the truth about the drug war for so long that they can't help but respond negatively to Johnson's common-sense approach. Given how many billions of dollars have been thrown into advertisements that criminalize all drug use without making any distinctions, it is no wonder that many people have trouble divorcing themselves from the illusion of righteousness. This is not a reflection on these people, of course, but a testament to the magnitude of the propaganda machine that has been let loose upon them.
But no amount...