by Sam Pelletier
Tommy stumbles out of bed at 12:45 p.m. and retrieves his EBT card from atop his antique mahogany dresser. He walks down into the basement; past the golf clubs, past the snowboards, and into his spacious rec room, where he keeps The Device.
The Device arrived at his home in a cardboard box three months after the Large Hadron Collider begun appearing in the news. There was no return address, but there was an Obama 2012 bumper sticker (now affixed to Tommy’s Mercedes) included in the packaging, along with instructions.
The Device essentially uses complex particle physics to turn EBT funds directly into illegal drugs. This is a fantastic time-saver.
After materializing 3 grams of strawberry kush, Tommy feels his stomach rumble. Although The Device fulfills most of his basic needs, Tommy occasionally does need to spend his food stamps on actual food.
Before heading to the market, he takes a long, hardy rip from his gold-plated, state-funded bong.
Tommy costs Americans billions every year. Tommy hurts budgets because the pothead welfare-cheat stereotype keeps Democratic leaders from embracing legal marijuana despite the will of their supporters.
Gallup says 64% of people who lean towards or identify as Democratic support legalization, so something is holding the politicians back.
To be fair, the Maine Democrats put it in their platform in 2014, and leaders like Dianne Russell, Mark Dion, and Shenna Bellows have really stepped up on it. However, the most important candidates last year, Cain and Michaud, opposed legalization. Such opposition is found among Democrats in all levels of government, and there has to be a reason they’re going against their base.
I’m convinced that reason is welfare.
Democrats hate talking about welfare policies, especially when they’re right about them. It is difficult and time-consuming to explain how food stamps stimulate the economy, or why covering a Doctor’s visit saves money. Also, it prolongs conversation on the welfare topic itself, which is a loser for the left.
The Republican welfare argument is simple, passionate, and short enough to fit on a bumper sticker. I’d wager that’s why Lepage is trying to drug-test welfare recipients, even though those programs always hemorrhage money.
Testing proposals focus political attention where Republicans want it, and I can understand why marijuana’s perceived association with laziness leads Democrats to oppose, or at least avoid the issue. However, that avoidance comes with a price. The price is progressive unity and young voters, because there are groups out there that are much, much better on this issue than the Democrats.
Libertarians are using marijuana to lure liberal young people away from their parents. They’re already consistently anti-war, and drug-policy makes them that much more attractive.
Marijuana can be a gateway to fiscal conservatism, “free market solutions” and maybe believing in lizard people. I’ve personally experimented with libertarianism, and recovery is brutal.
In 20 years, today’s young people will be deciding whether or not to gut Medicare. It’s dangerous for them to even consider that Ron Paul might know what he’s talking about.
Another option for disillusioned young liberals is the Green Party. They’re quite active in Portland and deserve a big chunk of the credit for making marijuana (kind of) legal here in 2013. That said, studies show that long term Green Party membership can seriously decrease motivation to accomplish things.
When progressives opt-out of the party, they opt-out of primaries, which steers the agenda to the right, fostering further apathy and further desertion.
The most likely outcome of ignoring marijuana is youth not voting, which always hurts Democrats. This is often blamed on irresponsibility, but it’s a predictable outcome of not addressing their prominent issues, one of which is marijuana.
Even a small increase in youth engagement is a major boon to campaigns, because it means more volunteers and more social media presence. Both are a must for winning races.
I’m 24, a Democrat, and my party is in trouble. We lost to Bruce Poliquin last year, and beating Bruce Poliquin is the bunny slope of Maine elections.
Our messaging can seem uninteresting and uninspiring, both of which can be helped by weed.
It’s unavoidable that if we support legalization, we’ll get hit with welfare argument. It’s also unavoidable that this will come up in 2016, so we have a choice to make: we can stand up for something that almost two-thirds of our voters want and address the giant ball of wasteful racism that is the War on Drugs, or we can continue to lose out on unity and energy by running scared from a narrative that is provably false.
Lets dare to make the right decision.