Today I’m in Denver (actually one of the half dozen interchangeable suburbs that surround Denver proper). I’ve been here before. On the scale of interesting, with one being Des Moines and ten being Shanghai, I rate Denver a solid -4.
Denver is uninspiring extruded plastic “generica” parked midway between Kansas’ righteous corn and nouveau riche vegans clinging to the prettiest parts of the Rockies. The core is a cluster of interchangeable offices, the donut is a sea of covenant controlled mortgages, and the middle is a marching army of chain stores. It’s as corporate as Wal-mart, as efficient as boredom, and as exciting as an audit.
Therefore, Denver is the perfect place for legalized pot. Legalized marijuana won’t bring chaos to Denver because Denver isn’t primed for it. If Denver got royally wasted and went off the rails it would wake up the next morning fully clothed and lying on the couch. It would be embarrassed and hungover. It would anxiously slink off to its carefully parked minivan and promise to never ever act so stupid again. Meanwhile Portland and San Fransisco would be having sex on the kitchen table in the front lawn.
Legalized pot in Colorado won’t get weird. Because Denver, even stoned en masse, can’t become Portland. America is, on average, Denver-ish too. In fact, Denver with legalized pot is exactly like Denver when pot was illegal. The main difference being that it’s a little more honest. Bullshit “dispensaries” treating “medical maladies” was a sham and everyone knew it. Shams are pathetic and should be avoided.
Which brings me to today’s Curmudgeonly political message:
Conservatives. I’m ashamed of you. Grow a pair and call it fucking over.
Of the two craptacular parties in America, it’s the theoretically conservative side that’s unhappy with legalized pot. To quote Chong, “Uncool man”.
In theory, conservatives pride themselves on making rational decisions. They endeavor to avoid erratic behavior. They don’t like extreme change. They try to avoid getting in trouble, causing trouble, making trouble, and being troublesome. I respect conservatives for trying to make wise choices.
When it came to drugs the party that claimed to be conservative stepped on its own balls. Repeatedly. It was a forgivable mistake when “Reefer Madness” was all the rage. It is unforgivable to stick with it to the bitter end.
“Don’t do drugs ’cause being stupid sucks” sounds pretty conservative. “We’re going to militarize the police, imprison thousands, and rework the policing of society” doesn’t sound conservative at all. It’s a sea change with tremendous consequences. Conservatives are supposed to avoid big and poorly thought out shifts. They’re supposed to avoid stepping into bear traps. Prohibition doesn’t work. Look it up. Religious fervor and the temperance movement created Al Capone. It is not conservative to think “this time we’ll do the same thing and get different results”. By the way, the first prohibition was rectified in 13 years but Americans of the 1930’s, apparently, were quicker to learn from bad outcomes.
Forget party affiliation and think about the dictionary definition of “conservative”. Regardless of politics and slogans, a conservative mind is supposed to use that big monkey brain to avoid getting in trouble in the first place. Conservative minds are supposed to feel smug when someone comments that “fools rush in where angels fear to tread”. A conservative thinker isn’t supposed to be “rushing in” ever. When something has manifestly turned into a mess, conservative thinking is supposed to avoid making a bad situation worse. Flailing around wishing things were different is supposedly anathema. When things have truly gone south it’s conservative to ponder a bit, figure out what went wrong, and then get busy trying to do things right. Living conservatively is supposed to be boring, predictable, and wise.
With drugs, the political movement theoretically associated with the word “conservative” went ape. They caused big changes. They authored reams of laws. Traditional and sound precedents were dropped. They were replaced by new stupid, spur of the moment, made up on the fly, precedents.
They dropped the ball. Screwed the pooch. Blew it big time. They set the bar high and inexplicably ran their face into it. I expect flaky morons to run the nation into a ditch but not the uptight party of geezers that should have known better.
Then they doubled down! When prohibition obviously wasn’t working (again!) they kept at it but did everything more and harder. Unwise. Poorly thought out. Badly executed. Flawed in concept, execution, and reasoning.
Power corrupts. It’s not a new idea. We’re supposed to know this. All that raw unfettered stupid power led (predictably!) to militarized cops. Also predictably, they got in the habit of killing innocents; Baptist Ministers, bedridden octogenarians, optometrists, teenage boys, 92 year old women, Methodist Ministers, and many others. (Here’s a map of four dozen dead innocents. How many does a conservative mind need to establish in their own understanding, a pattern?)
A system that encourages problems is, by definition, problematic. Conservatives theoretically pride themselves in avoiding such nonsense. Forget the parties and look at the dictionary. It is not conservative in thought to look at Andy Griffith and say “what that guy needs is a SWAT van and stun grenades”. It is liberal in thought to look at Mayberry and think “I wonder what would happen if the cops had a tank”.
I’m not saying drugs are good. People on drugs do damage. We’ve had three consecutive presidents with a history of drug use; boy have they fucked up! I’m saying prohibition has done more damage than any number of stoners could. It is not conservative thinking (in the sense of the dictionary definition) to take a problem and make it worse.
Now that Denver, a city as exciting as spackle, has paved the way perhaps things can get better. Maybe drug warriors can calm down. Possibly they can find honest work that doesn’t corrode society. We need florists, dentists, painters, and garbage men a whole lot more than we need militarized police enforcing a lucrative criminal market. Ideally both parties can do the conservative thing; think carefully about decisions that were made, where the good impulse went wrong, why it’s still going on today, and then act accordingly. It is time for the bullshit to fade. Let it go.
P.S. Incidentally, I don’t do drugs. I can favor legalization without being a stoner just like I can dislike our president without being racist.