Thursday, September 16, 2010

Socons Watch Out

I'm hanging over at Belmont Club and found a comment I rather liked.

121. sgi

If there is one thing and one thing only that will alienate other American voters from tea party candidates it is their social conservatism. Personal freedom must be extended to all Americans, even if their personal choices are offensive to social conservatives. Small government, freedom and responsibility are birds of a feather.
September 15, 2010 - 2:12 pm
It is the hubris that gets you. The "We Won" mentality. The Tea Party successes are not a call for Republican Socialism. What do I mean by that? The idea that you can eliminate vice by an act of Congress. What you really need is an Act of Congress AND a police state. I do not think the American people will stand for such a thing. One good example is the coming vote in California on the legalization of marijuana. Even five years ago such a vote was unthinkable. Win or lose in California - the tide is turning against pot prohibition. Eventually we will take the Swiss example to heart and legalize all drugs, for the simple reason that taking distribution out of the hands of criminals will make our streets safer and better protect our children.

So my socon friends, if you are really interested in smaller government and wish to stem the drift into an American police state you must consider the will of the people. Keep in mind:


Funny thing is that a contender for the Republican Presidential Nomination in 2012 agrees with me.
Gary Johnson, former two-term Republican governor of New Mexico, supports legalization of marijuana and argues that it will lead to a more effective fight against drugs. He blames the stalemate on the federal government and on both Republicans and Democrats.

"For the most part, politics is about following the herd as opposed to providing leadership," Johnson, who is speculated to be considering a run for the White House in 2012, told ABC News. "For me, it was a cost-benefit analysis, period. It's the fact that half of what we spend in law enforcement and the courts and the prisons is drug related, to what end?"

Johnson disagrees with the idea that dabbling in the politics of drugs would be harmful -- he cites his own approval rating as governor, saying it was steady even after he made his position known.

"It's a really good political issue because it's the truth. It's the emperor wears no clothes," he said.
One thing to keep in mind about the Swiss exaple so far is that they were against the legalization of pot. Why? Well you know - it is a REALLY dangerous drug. Still. The prohibition regime is breaking down. Socons can either get with the program or get drowned when the next tide of change rolls in. That would be unfortunate because we really do need smaller government.

But I do have another arrow in my quiver. Mexico. And Mexico is a disaster area and is getting worse.
It is wrecking the government of Mexico. It is financing the Taliban in Afghanistan. It is throwing 11,000 Britons into jail. It is corrupting democracy throughout Latin America. It is devastating the ghettoes of America and propagating Aids in urban Europe. Its turnover is some £200bn a year, on which it pays not a penny of tax. Thousands round the world die of it and millions are impoverished. It is the biggest man-made blight on the face of the earth.

No, it is not drugs. They are as old as humanity. Drugs will always be a challenge to individual and communal discipline, alongside alcohol and nicotine. The curse is different: the declaration by states that some drugs are illegal and that those who supply and use them are criminals. This is the root of the evil.

By outlawing products – poppy and coca – that are in massive global demand, governments merely hand huge untaxed profits to those outside the law and propagate anarchy. Repressive regimes, such as some Muslim ones, have managed to curb domestic alcohol consumption, but no one has been able to stop the global market in heroin and cocaine. It is too big and too lucrative, rivalling arms and oil on the international monetary exchanges. Forty years of "the war on drugs" have defeated all-comers, except political hypocrites.
Ah. Yes the hypocrites. That would be my socon friends who are all for smaller government except when it comes to their pet social engineering projects. Making people more moral at the point of a government gun.
Most western governments have turned a blind eye and decided to ride with the menace, since the chief price of their failure is paid by the poor. In Britain Tony Blair, Jack Straw and Gordon Brown felt tackling the drugs economy was not worth antagonising rightwing newspapers. Like most rich westerners they relied on regarding drugs as a menace among the poor but a youthful indiscretion among their own offspring.
Not to mention three American Presidents. So far. How is it that the elite are never subject (effectively) to their own laws? It is a mystery. None the less when there is one law for the common man and another for the aristocrats support for the rule of law breaks down.

But things get funnier. Much funnier. And not in a good way.
In countries such as Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iran, drugs are so endemic that criminalising them merely fuels a colossal corruption. It is rendering futile Nato's Afghan war effort, which requires the retraining of an army and police too addicted either to cure or to sack. Poppies are the chief source of cash for farmers whose hearts and minds Nato needs to win, yet whose poppy crop (ultimately for Nato nations) finances the Taliban. It is crazy.

The worst impact of criminalisation is on Latin America. Here the slow emergence of democratic governments – from Bolivia through Peru and Columbia to Mexico – is being jeopardised by America's "counter-narcotics" diplomacy through the US Drug Enforcement Agency. Rather than try to stem its own voracious appetite for drugs, rich America shifts guilt on to poor supplier countries. Never was the law of economics – demand always evokes supply – so traduced as in Washington's drugs policy. America spends $40bn a year on narcotics policy, imprisoning a staggering 1.5m of its citizens under it.

Cocaine supplies routed through Mexico have made that country the drugs equivalent of a Gulf oil state. An estimated 500,000 people are employed in the trade, all at risk of their lives, with 45,000 soldiers deployed against them. Border provinces are largely in the hands of drug barons and their private armies. In the past four years 28,000 Mexicans have died in drug wars, a slaughter that would outrage the world if caused by any other industry (such as oil). Mexico's experience puts in the shade the gangsterism of America's last failed experiment in prohibition, the prewar alcohol ban.
Just like alcohol prohibition the effort to stamp out vice (harming one's self) has corrupted institutions and individuals.

I think we ought to put an end to this foolishness before America winds up like Mexico and socons get a semi-permanent black eye (nothing is permanent in American politics - after all socons have come back despite the failure of one of their pet projects - alcohol prohibition).

Cross Posted at Classical Values


Tom Cuddihy said...

Simon you are a one-man-band in conflating Social conservatives with drug prohibitionists.

But you're way off base.

Social conservatives are largely concerned about one thing and one thing only: sex and its consequences.

This is basic stuff. The same thing drives both Christian and Jewish social conservatives -- their religion's teachings on sexuality.

There is broad agreement among the many Christian and Jewish variations on the nature and consequences of sex (cf The Manhatten Declaration).

There is neither consensus nor general agreement among those groups on what government policy ought to be about drugs. None. Nada. Zip.

You're just off base in conflating the two, perhaps because you oppose both issues. But don't think just because you're an enemy of both that they are friends.

Will Brown said...

Alcohol prohibition here in the US was very much a project of the early 20th Century political Progressives (predecessors of today's self-proclaimed liberals). All part and parcel of the race purity/social engineering/eugenics beliefs they championed then (alcohol being a tool of the "Ruling Class" to further marginalize the working class and poor don'cha know) and furiously hand wave away today.

Thought project; which political party* was the better positioned to financially profit from the machinations of the "criminal class" newly created by Prohibition?

*Most honest answer: all of them, but alcohol prohibition was a Progressive/Democrat failure so it's only natural that present day Republicans so stubbornly refuse to acknowledge being no better, isn't it?

M. Simon said...


You must have missed Billy Sunday. It was a coalition of Progressives and Socons.


I no more want to be ruled by the socialists of the left than those of the right.

You know the type: "Once we have government power we can cure....."

I hate social engineers.

Now if the right was content to really mean small government I would have no problem with their beliefs. But I worry about their thirst for power. It is as ugly as the left's.

And I don't want government in my bedroom any more than I want them in my smoking room.

Personal responsibility Tom. On everything.

But some on the Right Are Getting It. At the last Tea Party event I went to there was an anti-abortion group that DID NOT WANT TO PASS A LAW. I blogged them. Favorably. And what do you know? Some of the members were friends of my family. Their kids and my kids went to school together.

I'm all for improving our culture. Provided it is not done at the point of a gun.

As to the drug laws. I read the surveys. Democrats favor an end to prohibition roughly 60 to 70%. Independents are split 50/50 and Republicans are 60% to 70% in favor of the status quo. (all the figures are very rough but they do correspond more or less with reality) Now are the Rs identical with socons? No. But the overlap is enough to get SOME idea of what is going on. In general.

And BTW I have a socon friend over at Classical Values (Oregon Guy) who is rabidly anti-drug war. But he is an outlier. He is also quite libertarian on most issues. Rather unusual. He is an engineer at a religious broadcast station. And since engineering is a hot bed of libertarianism maybe he is not so unusual after all.

But take the commenter I posted to heart. If the socons behind the Tea Party Express (socons with a mild libertarian orientation) over reach they will get bounced. I'd hate to see that because we really need to kill off the socialist idea until they are as unusual in America as Nazis.

Now if you are not one of the "There ought to be a law" crowd you have nothing to fear from me. My religious beliefs are as strange as any. I am a mild adherent of the Michael Valentine Smith Rasta Jedi Benjamin Franklin Timothy Leary Aleister Crowley School of religion. Nominally Jewish - at least culturally. Talk about fringe.


Now you will forgive me if I overstep here. I live in a Christian culture, but am not a Christian. And my understanding is that in his actions Jesus favored a separation of church and state. If his adherents took that message to heart there would be no religious wars in America. Our founders were much closer to the religious wars of Europe and I think they did not want to repeat that error. Neither do I.

M. Simon said...

And Will,

Don't forget that socons of the Protestant variety were behind the push for public schools. As a way to indoctrinate the Catholics and Jews coming over from Europe into "American" (read Protestant) beliefs.

That one kind of got away from them. So you see the danger? Evil done for the purpose of doing good has turned evil.

Very limited government is the only cure. No more social engineering. For any reason.

Neil said...

A quibble, from someone whose great-great-grandfather was very involved in the Chautauqua movement and other Progressive activities of the Republican variety:

The Progressive movement of the early 1900's was Republican at first--T.R. was one of them. It had an overtly Christian Protestant outlook on things, thus the YMCA/YWCA and the Women's Christian Temperance Union. They had an uneasy alliance with the industrialist wing of the Republican party, premised on the idea that all those social "improvements" would lead to better workers.

But those Progressives jumped ship and largely allied with FDR's New Deal Democrats, forming the basis of his new coalition. They gradually lost their social conservatism, and today's social conservatives do not have any real straight-line relationship with the old Progressive movement.

That's why the old mainstream Protestant denominations (which were dominant in the Midwest and Great Plains) are considered to be "liberal", and conservatism finds its support among the evangelical churches that sprang up as the Baby Boomers began looking for their spiritual homes. They are something new and different.

M. Simon said...


Thanks for that.

The lineage may not be direct but the impulse is the same. Improving society at the point of a government gun. i.e. the very social engineering that the "conservatives" decry.

M. Simon said...

My latest: Leftist Dogma shows just how aligned with leftist thought our current batch of "conservatives" are.

Neil said...

That's true, but the differences are instructive, too.

The old social Progressives (and the new ones) were the inheritors, roughly, of the Puritan tradition from New England. The new social conservatives come, again roughly, from the Scots-Irish Calvinists. That makes them culturally much more likely to accept a "leave us alone" government, as long as they can live as they wish. (Scots being Scots and all.)

In other words, they are likely to accept a bargain with libertarians in order to defeat the Progressives. I think this is clear from the way the Tea Parties have acted so far--they've made it clear that their concern is fiscal conservatism, not social conservatism. Eventually, I assume they will need to be reminded of the consequences of breaking that bargain, but for now it's working.

M. Simon said...


You are quite correct about Tea Party Conservatives.

Christine O'Donnell went to a frickin Libertarian Party meeting this last summer to discuss her position on the Drug War (it's a states rights issue).

Palin has made noises about maybe medpot is a good idea. Of course her husband Todd is a flaming libertarian.

I think we are seeing the rise of "Government can't..." social conservatives and I count them among my allies and they can count me as theirs.

BTW let me say that you are one of the very few I have "seen" who has a clear idea of the emerging landscape.

Neil said...

Thanks for the kind words. It helps that my career has caused me to travel the U.S. extensively--sometimes to fashionable places, more often to very unfashionable spots. Opens the eyes a bit, on both ends of the scale.

One of the things I find interesting, and still puzzles me, is precisely where the libertarian streak in our society comes from. It pops up seemingly randomly in all the various threads of our culture. Maybe it's just the lowest common denominator, the one thing that everybody can agree on to some extent or another. So when all the dominant cultural types bump up against each other for long enough in one person, they chip away all the disagreements (like a pair of flints struck together), and what's left are the few remaining core beliefs that don't cause dissonance. Perhaps that's why immigrant societies tend to be limited-government Republics....