Tea Partiers: Please Don’t Disrespect Gary Johnson

Yesterday, I was in Santa Fe for the start of the legislative session and the Tea Party rally. Overall, the rally was very good and I commend them for bringing people from all over the state to make their voices heard before the Legislature and Governor.

Among the speakers at the rally was former New Mexico Gov. Gary Johnson. Among other things like fiscal restraint etc., he talked about his position on legalizing drugs. This drew some derisive hisses and catcalls from the crowd that I think were unfortunate. And, while 95% of the crowd either cheered or were at least respectful, some in the crowd made for an awkward scene. This is not the first time Johnson has received a mixed reaction for his legalization message from Tea Partiers.

I just don’t understand this. Gary Johnson — with the possible exception of Ron Paul — is the single most fiscally-conservative candidate likely to run for president in 2012. He SHOULD be a tea party rock star regardless of what you think about the drug issue.

More importantly. Under the Tea Party’s professed (and my actual) reading of the Constitution, the drug war as is now being fought by the Federal Government is blatantly unconstitutional. This is because drugs are not mentioned in the document, so this is rightfully the province of the states. Also, there is the precedent of alcohol prohibition which required an amendment to the Constitution. Shouldn’t the same be done if the feds are going to ban all drugs?

Lastly, and perhaps most ironically, the issues of marijuana and ObamaCare are inextricably linked now due to the Raich case which was decided a few years ago by the Supreme Court. When the anti-ObamaCare lawsuits hit the Court, one of the biggest arrows in the Administration’s quiver is bound to be this case which clearly gives the federal government control of what medicine Americans have access to.

Anyway, regardless of your views on drug prohibition, next time Gary Johnson speaks, don’t give him a hard time.

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25 Replies to “Tea Partiers: Please Don’t Disrespect Gary Johnson”

  1. This is why I won’t have anything to do with the Tea Party. They’re just another group of big government conservatives who love to talk about small government. But when you get down to specifics about what that really means (i.e. that it’s not a legitimate role for government to tell adults what intoxicants they can and cannot consume), you find they are just like any group of big government liberals. They just want government to enforce a different set of values.

  2. Hi Paul – I agree that Gary Johnson has earned our respect and goodwill. But drug use can cause so much personal damage that I am not willing to support legalization at this point in time. Politics can be rough, and conservatives may feel pretty strongly about this issue. I wish Gary Johnson would drop it.

    1. I’m not saying that you have to support legalization, but I do think it is hypocritical and dangerous for tea partiers (and conservatives) to use the cloak of the Constitution when it fits them (against the health care bill), but ignore it when it does not. Regardless of your view on the drug war, can we all agree that it is not in the Constitution and should be a state issue unless an amendment is passed?

    2. Woody, what personal damage do drugs cause unless you, yourself, heavily abuse drugs? If that’s the case, then you would be sowing your own demise. Do you really need big brother to protect you from yourself? My rights end where yours begin, and that includes my right to ingest anything I see fit.

  3. Gary Johnson makes a great case for legalizing pot. Marijuana prohibition is a failed government policy and at this point it’s causing more harm than good. Many of my conservative friends agree with him on this… but they’re not the folks you find hooting at rallies.

    This is a great example of what I like about Gary — he really cuts through the partisan noise to look at issues objectively… And then there’s his veto record as Governor. 🙂

    1. agreed! gary was fiscally prudent LONG before being fiscally prudent was “cool” and he wasn’t even faced with a flood of red ink! he did it because it was the right thing to do…in fact, he’s been right about so many issues that i have to think there’s a good chance he’s right about drug policy too.

  4. I spoke with a Santa Fe rally participant who opposes drug legalization. She informed me the local Tea Party’s would study the issue before providing a unified opinion. They are willing to analyze the pros and cons despite the catcalls and hisses.

  5. The Drug War liberals (pro big government) have existed in the Republican Party for quite some, just like those who support the liberal view on war. Keeping them in the Republican Party instead of where they belong (in the Democrat or Progressive Party) requires that we put up with their big government cat calls once in a while.

  6. Paul, you have certainly made a good point! I think we get so focused on what we KNOW to be unconstitutional that we often forget to stop and think about issues that are really issues of our own mores and/or upbringing.

    I knew that as soon as Gov. Johnson began to speak on this issue that the crowd would react negatively. This is a traditional group where most were brought up and have raised/are raising their families to work hard and shun recreational drug use. It is ingrained in us to believe that drug use is wrong. But I do appreciate you pointing our the pick and choosing of our constitutional views.

    That said, I somehow like the phrase “de-criminalize” much better than legalize. I don’t really know the extent of Gov. Johnson’s proposals but have listened to those who propose to de-criminalize marajauna, which makes economic sense.

  7. Your right disrespecting anyone is inappropriate. Telling the Tea Party as a group what to do is a dangerous thing. Each and every member has a different view. Those who liked who liked what he had to stay stayed and listened those who did not left. There are a lot of things in society and the constitution that are good; we as individuals have to decide for ourselves the good and the bad. Governor Johnson’s case for legalizing pot is purely an economical and taxation issue as almost all of his stances. I for one like his fiscal stance but when he takes his “business case” view into determining legality for pot I do not agree. When I disagree I have the right to walk away from the discussion and should not be forced to continue the exchange. We all do that from time to time don’t we.

    Jerry Clark

    1. I agree with you Jerry. Walking away (or remaining quiet) is far superior to acting out and booing. Regarding telling the tea party what to do, I think that is a tricky one. They are independent minded libertarians and conservatives and that means they don’t take directions well, but on the other hand, having a coherent and specific agenda moving forward would certainly be helpful (even if it costs them a few supporters).

  8. I am yet to hear an argument against legalization of drugs that is not based on pure emotion. You can’t demand that government get our of your life while simultaneously demanding that they intrude into the lives of others. Worrying about whether or not your neighbor is smoking marijuana, gambling, or engaged in sexual behavior that you don’t personally approve of is not limited government and is in no way “conservative”.

    1. exactly!!! isn’t it a matter of FREEDOM and isn’t that what the tea party is all about? we lock up a larger percentage of our population than any other country IN THE WORLD…largely due to our insistence upon making victimless “crimes” criminal…that alone made me take pause 15 years or so ago…i attended a drug policy reform forum that i believe then governor johnson sponsored…a true eye opener…i went from apathy to activist overnight…in my opinion, the penalty for using a drug should not be more harmful than the use of the drug itself…that is not the case today…gary johnson is absolutely right, we MUST change current drug policy!

  9. Gary and I are friends. We have long agreed to not talk about those issues we don’t agree on and he and I both know what those issues are. I warned our local Tea Party last week that Gary is great on fiscal matters but differs like night and day on social issues. I would hope that Gary would do what I hate most, tailor his message to his audience. Although I disagree with him on that issue, I would not have “acted out” in public. As for drugs, think we have problems with DWI, what is it going to be like when we add in something you can’t smell, like meth. In reading history, read up on the Ming Dynasty.

    1. Can you be more specific regarding your comment about the Ming Dynasty. What or how did drugs have anything to do with Ming? I thought climate change was the reason for their downfall, not to forget how the global economy of that time screwed them.

  10. A couple of points from my perspective: First of all, I am a Tea Partier. Second, I was at the Santa Fe rally. I support the Constitutional right of the States to make their own laws about drug legalization issues(and many other things). Drug legalization is a hot button issue for many Americans, largely because of the hundreds of thousands of individuals and families that have been destroyed by drugs, legal or illegal and alcohol. Some of these fears may be irrational but they are there nonetheless as are many other irrational fears in our society and they must be dealt with.

    I respect Gov. Gary Johnson but I believe that if he has any hopes of being elected president this one issue will sink his campaign.

    On the issue of drug legalization itself, I believe the following: Legalization of marijuana will do nothing to curb violence from, or black marketeering of, cocaine, heroin, meth, crack or designer drugs. Furthermore, the drug cartels will view legalization of marijuana as a direct threat to one of their biggest income streams and they will do what they have always done to competition-put a bullet in the back of its head, bringing more violence to our country, not less.

  11. The Ming Dynasty “discovered” Opium as a medicinal product. It was used for mainly for treatment of diarrhea. But they saw fit to “edict” against the recreational use of opium, so one would conclude that this might have been a problem. The Ming fell in 1644 and in came the Qing Dynasty. The British imported mass quantities of the product by 1781, still was illegal by edict, but flourishing. It became a major export for them and eventually led to to The Opium Wars and the British “acquired” Hong Kong on lease. Seems to me that availability and usage increases. Governments don’t like the competition and they fight wars over it. The Swiss legalized drug use in the 1990’s in certain locations and even with drug availability theft was necessary to “afford” purchase. Crime abounded in the areas surrounding the usage location. Seems the solution would be to change men’s collective hearts, not encourage usage by quasi legitimization.

  12. Go Gary, more power to you. Drugs are not the problem, government is. The problem of drugs will almost disappear when they are legalized and people can get help without fear of government interference or reprisal as they realize their addiction. And, they who are addicted will make that realization. The so called ‘War on Drugs’ is totalitarian, unconstitutional and therefore criminal even if passed into law. Free men do not have to obey any unconstitutional law. The war has caused unintended circumstances such as $100 billion a year cost with no visible change in the use and abuse of drug use. Money down a black hole. Constitutionally, the limitations on drug use is not a federal jurisdiction and has been perverted by socialism as have many other federal initiatives through the abuse of the Commerce Clause.

    Go Gary

  13. Oh and Paul, you know I love you man! But free speech includes that speech which we find to be caustic, abusive, abrasive, insulting, degrading, etc etc etc

    I find almost all of the things spoken and printed from the left to be offensive but would never want them silenced. Besides, I think we are all better served when radicals of any stripe “speak and remove all doubt”.

  14. The current war on drugs is not working and is hugely expensive. I don’t know the answer but we need to discuss and hear alternatives that preserve the rights of individuals and, yet, protect the society as a whole.

  15. If you support the Drug War then if you don’t want to be a hypocrite you should also support alcohol prohibition. You might end up being unpopular with that stance but at least you’ll be consistent. You should be shouting from the rooftops that you want what we had during prohibition.

  16. Tonight I think I found a candidate who I can not only vote for but support wholeheartedly. And I agree with the comments about many in the Tea Party being against drug decriminalization – they just can’t have it both ways. Federal enforcement of marijuana laws cannot be justified by any part of the constitution and is therefore reserved to the states and to the people by the 9th and 10th amendments. It’s the freaking Constitution, people, not a cafeteria where you pick and choose what you want.
    Good luck, Gary.

  17. To invite a former Governor to speak at our rally, then insult him with boos and hisses reflects badly on all of us. This man went out on a limb politicly aligning himself with the Tea Party. The powers that be in the Republican party would like us to just sit down and shut up as much as the left would. They walk all over the Constitution as much as the left, just differently with laws like the war on drugs and the patriot act.
    The only way I can see Gary gaining traction for the nomination is if true Constitutional Conservatives get behind him. Open you eyes people, either you support the limits placed on the Federal Government by the Constitution or you do not. And that includes the horribly flawed and failed war on drugs.
    Best Wishes Gary, I am with you.

  18. Ron Paul, Glen Beck, and Gary Johnson are all for legalization. Ummm aren’t those first two guys the ones who really got the whole Tea Party thing started? I would bet Sarah Palin feels the same way being from Alaska. Come on people if you want your freedom stop trying to take other peoples away. If HiPPI HOWARD can’t smoke pot in the privacy of his own home without government harrassment then who’s to say your children will be able to pray in theirs 50 years from now?

  19. I would like to point out that being against the massively expensive and utterly failed “war on drugs” is not the same as condoning drug use. I can be against the use of recreational drugs and teach my children the dangers of them. But just because I don’t find a particular behavior desirable doesn’t give me the right to choose for others. In a free country, each adult would be able to make his own choices about what substances he puts in his own body, particularly in the confines of his own home. The constitution does not give the federal government the authority to wage the war on drugs. Gary Johnson should be applauded for his courageous and thoughtful stand on this issue.

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