If I were a conservative congressman ...
faced with the Barney Frank/Ron Paul bill repealing the federal ban on marijuana, how would I respond?
On the one hand, it's hard to deny that the war on drugs has been a massive failure. And part of my political base would be sympathetic to repeal; I might remember that in 2004 the state of Montana voted for George Bush 59/39 and for medical marijuana 62/38. But another part of my base would regard the proposal as anathema. How to straddle that divide?
For the benefit of any politician in that situation, here is a rough draft of a speech or press release:
I have been asked for my view on the bill representatives Frank and Paul have introduced to repeal the federal ban on marijuana. I think the first thing one must concede is that the War on Drugs, as it has actually been fought, has been a failure. For forty years it has spent large amounts of money, imprisoned large numbers of people, helped turn our inner cities into free fire zones, and imposed on the police enforcement obligations difficult or impossible to fulfill. The one thing we have not done, despite repeated promises and predictions, is to succeed in preventing Americans from using illegal drugs.
By that measure, surely the essential one, the project has been a failure. Part of being an adult is being willing to recognize one's mistakes. What is not clear is whether the mistake is the war itself or how it has been conducted. I would like to hope that we can come up with some approach to the problem that will achieve the objective and will not do enormous damage in the process. But I think we must be open to the possibility that, given our circumstances and our society, no such solution is possible, that the overuse of recreational drugs is simply one of those evils that must be endured because there is no practical way of curing it.
I therefor intend to vote to bring the Frank/Paul bill to the floor, to encourage an active and extended discussion, and either to vote for it or to propose some alternative to the failed approach of the past forty years. And I would like to thank representatives Frank and Paul for taking the first step in that process.
I'm curious as to what my readers think of this effort in rhetorical role playing. Would it work—appeal sufficiently to both sides? Should I look into a future career in speech writing?
I think I'll probably keep my day job.