Those familiar with discussion of drug use policy in a U.S. context will be aware of this cliche: The War on Drugs’ illicit drug front (including everything from punishing users to opposition to rational and human harm reduction approaches) is driven by those on the political “right”, motivated by punishing or preventing what they consider to be sin, while the War’s tobacco front is driven by the “left” who want to improve public health, whether the public likes it or not.
The New York Times’ Charles M. Blow recently argued that contrary to perception, the entire War on Drugs has been a project of the Democrats (the ostensible left) for more than a decade. He starts with a recent Drug Policy Alliance report about the association of race and punishment for drug offenses, but takes it in a rather surprising direction, documenting the Democratic fingerprints on the arguably racist anti-drug policies.
Those of us working on THR know that the second half of the cliche gives the Democrats a bit too much credit because they are not actually on the side of public health, and so are either clearly pursuing an agenda of attacking sin as they define it or have been duped by the anti-tobacco extremists. Blow’s argument suggests that the first half of the cliche perhaps also gives Democrats too little blame.
So to my American readers, enjoy voting for either the party whose primary platforms are to give money to the rich and not reform health care financing, or to the party of not standing up strong for any of the most pressing issues and being happy to continue all the wars, shooting, tobacco, and drug. As for me, I cannot accept even the lesser of these evils and have voluntarily disenfranchised myself this year.
– Carl V. Phillips