Let’s be clear – Donald Trump will not become American President this week because he out-thought the Democratic campaign during the election (although he did). He will become President because the Democrats and Hillary Clinton threw away a winning position out of sheer arrogance and hubris. One of the prime reasons for the Democrats squandering a sure-fire win was their refusal to promote a humane cannabis policy.
Cannabis became medicinally legal in California 1996, and many supporters of cannabis freedom were frustrated by George W. Bush’s refusal to countenance so much as a discussion about the subject between 2000 and 2008. When the Bush Presidency ended in 2008 and the Democrat Barack Obama became the President, it seemed like occasion for hope.
Indeed, Obama campaigned as the hope and change candidate. Part of this campaign was to distance himself from the haughty arrogance of the Dubya years. This manifested as a website – ‘We The People’ – where the American people could have their say on the issues important to them.
The top two subjects on this new website both related to repealing cannabis prohibition.
Cannabis users finally thought they had someone who would listen. Obama, infamously part of the “Choom Gang,” was sure to legalise cannabis. He had all the right rhetoric, admitting that he “smoked pot as a kid” and that cannabis is not more dangerous than alcohol.
So it isn’t as if Obama could claim to have been unaware of the strength of the sentiment of Americans in favour of legalising cannabis when he became President. By 2008, pretty much the entirety of Generation X believed that cannabis ought to be legal.
However, it turned out that neither Obama nor the Democrats had the guts to do anything about this generation’s foremost moral issue. This blog piece from 2009 provides an eerie premonition of the argument of this essay.
Obama, like the Green Party of New Zealand and almost everyone else, sold cannabis users down the river as soon as he got into power.
In fact, in 2009 Obama was even recorded laughing at the plight of the cannabis users who had just put him into power, as if putting tens of thousands of people in cages for their choice of medicine was an absurdly trivial matter.
Come 2016, and even a country with the socioeconomic challenges of Uruguay has managed to legalise cannabis fully – and still nothing from Obama or the Democrats, apart from a sense that they expect credit and gratitude for not sending the federal police to attack cannabis users in states like Colorado that expressed a democratic will to have legal cannabis.
So when the 2016 Presidential Election came around – and Democratic voters were asked to support a candidate who was known to not support cannabis legalisation – of course they simply refused and did not vote.
Despite a growing population and many large demographic advantages, Hillary Clinton got 4,000,000 fewer votes in 2016 than Obama got in 2008, and a large number of those will have been cannabis users. After being lied to by Obama, and then being presented in 2016 with a crusty old Boomer with no appreciation of medicinal cannabis at all, why vote?
It could be argued that the Democrats’ obstinate refusal to accept what all of their constituencies know – that cannabis prohibition ought to be repealed – cost them the Presidential Election. It showed them to be a party completely out of touch with the people they claimed to represent.
The New Zealand Labour Party looks set to ignore the lesson – Andrew ‘The Ditherer’ Little believes that cannabis causes “brain damage,” which means that there is no reason for medicinal cannabis users to vote Labour either.
Medicinal cannabis users will have to wait for him to run his course as Prime Minister, and then to wait for the next National Prime Minister to sit on their arse for nine years like Key and Clark did, which means possibly waiting until the year 2036 to get what Californians have had since 1996.
With a much more sophisticated appreciation for the national sentiment than the Paedophiles of Wellington, this column stands by the following prediction: the New Zealand centre-left will not win the 2017 General Election without the humane cannabis law reform policy that young people, Maori people, and both physically and mentally ill people are now expecting by right of natural justice.