Monday, January 08, 2018

Green Wave Democrats-- Standing Up To Jeff Sessions On Marijuana Re-Criminalization


-by Jasper Ward

"It’s funny-- but not actually funny-- that states’ rights matter to the Trump Administration and Republicans only when it’s politically expedient. AG Session’s vendetta against democratically legalized marijuana is a humongous waste of federal resources and has proven to be unpopular at the state and national level."
-Rep. Ted Lieu (D-CA)
Campaigns are what candidates make them about. The double edged sword for Democratic candidates in 2018 is that there are so, so many awful things going on that there are too many things campaigns can be about. The common denominator, of course, is Trump and the Republicans have set the train ablaze and aimed it right at the 99% of Americans tied to the tracks. Trump is insanely and angrily opening the throttle to full speed, and the GOP is standing off safely to the side counting their money and watching it happen. Democratic elected officials have only half-heartedly and occasionally thrown themselves in front of the train (the Senate confirmed Christopher Wray as FBI Director overwhelmingly after Trump admitted he fired Comey to stop the Russia investigation!!) and have repeatedly helped the GOP fund the government in exchange for saving some (hugely important) hostages, but still only a few.

The people who are really going to save America (and maybe the world?) are the challengers out there in red districts and against horrible Democrats like Dan Lipinski and Debbie Wassermann Schultz. They are the ones who are not only going to rush the cabin and stop the train, but because they are not infected by the last two decades of greyscale that has touched everyone in Washington-- including Democrats-- they are going to chart a new path forward for the 2020s.

This week gave us a perfect example of the dichotomy of Establishment DC Dems not doing enough to save the country and Progressive Challenger Dems stepping up to chart the new way forward. When Jeff Sessions announced he was suspending the Justice Department memo that prevented US Attorneys from going after the marijuana industry in legal states, the reactions of most Establishment DC Dems showed why Democrats are in the mess we are in.

Sure, there were a few progressive stalwarts like Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-TX) who were willing to take Sessions on directly. Beto: "After our country has spent more than $1 trillion on the war on drugs, leading the world in the size of our prison population and seeing marijuana just as available today as it was at the start of the war on drugs-- and just as the majority of Americans have come to the conclusion that we must end the federal prohibition on marijuana, and most states have followed suit-- I can't understand how the Trump administration would take us back to the dark ages of the drug war. Attorney General Jeff Sessions' decision yesterday to stop states from being able to set more humane and rational policies around marijuana is a big step in the wrong direction. Called ‘The New Jim Crow’ for the disparity in arrests and sentencing that disproportionately affect communities of color, the war on drugs has become a war on people. And from the front lines of this war, I co-authored a book that describes the carnage and wasted potential that are a result of our failed drug policies. Who will be the last kid in Ciudad Juarez to die for the privilege of crossing marijuana into a country where more than half the states have already legalized or decriminalized it? Who will be the last Texan to rot in prison for a non-violent marijuana possession? I am a co-sponsor of a bipartisan bill, introduced by a Republican colleague who is a former prosecutor, to end the federal prohibition on marijuana. That bill, once it becomes law, will do more than anything else to keep marijuana out of the hands of kids, marijuana proceeds out of the hands of criminals and cartels, and allow us to focus on real threats like the growing opioid crisis in this country."

And Barbara Lee, who represents Oakland and Berkley: "By now you may have heard that Attorney General Jeff Sessions announced his plan to reverse Obama-era rules that allow states to implement marijuana laws without the federal government interfering. Let me be perfectly clear: Jeff Sessions and the entire Trump administration are on the wrong side of history. The war on drugs has failed on almost every measure while causing irreparable damage to communities of color who bear the burden of overzealous policing and mass incarceration. Jeff Sessions is ignoring the facts to promote Trump’s misguided "law and order" agenda, but it won't work. My colleagues and I are going to continue to fight back and do our jobs, and we're going to need your support to keep the Trump administration from reviving the failed, racist war on drugs.

"No. We are not going to let Jeff Sessions use the Justice Department as a tool to promote racial and economic control over communities of color. No. We are not going to let the Trump administration revive a policy that directly contributed to the tragic mass incarceration crisis we have in this country. No. We are not going to let Jeff Sessions and Donald Trump roll back the progress we’ve made to end the failed war on drugs." But most Democrats in Congress... crickets. From Huffington Post
But criticizing Sessions’ move is one thing. Turning his marijuana crackdown into an election-year political cudgel-- in stump speeches, campaign literature and ads-- is something else entirely.

And when asked whether Democrats planned to use the marijuana crackdown against Republicans in the November elections, some of the same Democrats keen to clobber Sessions were noncommittal.

“It’s way too early to predict that,” Warner said.

Van Hollen, chairman of the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee, the Democratic Senate campaign arm, said, “Every Democratic member of the Senate will have to decide what’s best in their states.”

Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), who also expressed her displeasure with Sessions’ decision, argued that Democrats ought to run on kitchen-table economic issues rather than marijuana.

“There are so many other things to run on, like the tax bill that just passed that does not help working families at all,” she said in an interview.

The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee did not respond to multiple email requests for comment on the political salience of Sessions’ move. The DSCC referred HuffPost back to Van Hollen’s remarks.

When asked about making marijuana an election issue, Democratic National Committee spokesman Michael Tyler provided a statement indicting Sessions’ “morally bankrupt and economically stupid” decision without commenting on the potential political effect.
Bleck! As we have posted again and again, this is an extremely popular political issue that is also good policy because of how many ways it would transform American life for the better for the 99% of Americans currently tied to the tracks. Talking about this a frame is something legitimately new and will help Democrats talk about jobs, opioids, civil rights, immigration, and every other issue relevant to voters in a way that voters won’t automatically tune out Democrats. Everyone knew Trump wanted to Make America Great Again, and that was enough for them to elect that madman President of the United States. If everyone knew Democrats wanted to legalize marijuana nationwide to create jobs, fight opioids and expand civil rights, that should be enough in a Congressional race. Let’s not overthink this.

Luckily, we have Progressive Challenger Democrats who are not infected with Washington Greyscale and get it. First, Dan Canon (IN) and Kendra Fershee (WV) had been out front on this, releasing these ads weeks before the Sessions announcement,

Then, after the Sessions announcement, multiple candidates stepped up with personal, direct to camera appeals to legalize nationwide.
Dayna Steele (TX)
Kaniela Ing (HI)
Beto O'Rourke (TX)
There are more candidates who have come out in support, but we want to do our part to make sure candidates don’t just support this and move on.

Goal ThermometerThat’s why Howie has graciously agreed to put a Green Wave Democrats fundraising drive on the Blue America page (that thermometer on the right will take you to it). Show candidates that this issue moves donors across the country just as much as it helps them in their district to talk about jobs, opioids, civil rights and racial inequality, and not governing from a place of fear and rot like the DC Democratic party will likely do when we get back the majority.

I have done my part: I have pledged to max out (and have already maxed out) to any candidate who puts up an ad like Dan and Kendra’s ads above so that they can move these from beyond the web to television in their districts. I am working to secure other pledges from people who will do this.

But people don’t need to max out to get these candidates’ attention. The volume of small dollar contributors motived by Green Wave Democrats will leave an indelible mark, and will make the difference.

There is huge, huge value in the nomination of one of our two major political parties to any office. Just ask Senator Doug Jones and President Donald Trump about that. We have tons of qualified candidates across the country in primaries, and the candidates who realize that the primary is the ball game are the ones who are going to have an advantage. The power of this issue is that it appeals just as much to voters you need in November as you need in the primary, and there will be a huge first mover advantage over the next couple of months.

For example, the progressive candidate in the Illinois race to replace reactionary Republican incumbent Rodney Davis, Dr. David Gill, an emergency room physician told us that he’s “amazed by the gall of politicians like Jeff Sessions, who adhere to the concept of 'States' Rights' only when it suits their needs and desires. Mr. Sessions is a complete and utter hypocrite. The war on drugs has failed to decrease drug use and has cost taxpayers billions of dollars. Current policy also disproportionately impacts communities of color. It is finally time to legalize, tax, and regulate marijuana. Legalization of marijuana has proven to successfully stimulate the economy in Colorado. This policy will generate billions of dollars in tax revenue and reduce the huge financial burden posed by incarcerating non-violent offenders. As an emergency medicine physician, I rarely see adverse events related to marijuana; in contrast, trauma caused by legal alcohol always keeps my Emergency Room busy."

And Derrick Crowe is the progressive Democrat running in the Austin/San Antonio district where science denier Lamar Smith is retiring. "Marijuana should be legal," he told us, "and Jeff Sessions' obsession with destroying families and communities by jailing people for marijuana offenses is inhumane and puritanical. At the same time that Trump and the GOP are trying to cut people off from their health coverage under the ACA, Sessions is working to end folks' ability to use marijuana to alleviate terrible pain in states that allow medical marijuana. And, at a time when African Americans are almost four times as likely than Whites to be jailed for marijuana use despite similar usage rates, it's a racial justice and criminal justice reform issue. It's clear that there's no level of pain too great or injustice to deep to get in the way of Republicans' efforts to please their donors."

  Let’s provide positive reinforcement for these candidates. Let’s make sure the people driving the train are a new generation of leaders who are not afraid to take a principled stand that is contrary to DC Savvy Democrats who assure us this issue is meaningless (and therefore will not make it a priority when we take back the majority). Let’s support Green Wave Democrats.

Right now there are 15 co-sponsors on Virginia Republican Tom Garrett’s Ending Federal Marijuana Prohibition Act of 2017 (H.R. 1227):
Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI)
Scott Taylor (R-VA)
Jared Polis (D-CO)
Earl Blumenauer (D-OR)
Don Young (R-AK)
Justin Amash (R-MI)
Dana Rohrabacher (R-CA)
Raul Grijalva (D-AZ)
Steve Cohen (D-TN)
Jamie Raskin (D-MD)
Ed Perlmutter (D-CO)
Beto O’Rourke (D-TX)
Duncan Hunter (R-CA)
Pramila Jayapal (D-WA)
Ro Khanna (D-CA)
Trump crony and long-time advisor Roger Stone is running a TV ad unfriendly to Sessions’ attack on states’ marijuana policies:

And libertarian hero Ron Paul is calling for Trump to fire Sessions as Attorney General  something Trump already wants to do... although for reasons that are unrelated to marijuana. Trump wants Sessions gone so that the Department of Justice will end the Mueller Putin-Gate investigation.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,


At 6:34 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Terrific keep up the good work Howie.

At 6:53 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

'The people who are really going to save America (and maybe the world?) are the challengers out there in red districts and against horrible Democrats...'

You really think the Nazi demographic in gerrymandered Nazi districts and in Nazi states will really elect democrats or democraps instead of Nazis over pot?

You really think that voters will put pot atop their list of issues to elect someone on?

If pot is going to make a difference in the upcoming couple of elections, it will probably draw out opportunistic posers running on legalization but who are your boilerplate democrap corrupt liars who may make pot legal but won't fix banking, taxation, war, income inequality, voting, gerrymandering, the supreme court nor any other damn thing that is more important.

This plays right into the hands of the money, you know. Give the colossally stupid American voters something to distract them from the 40-year ass raping they've endured, and they'll focus on it instead of the chronic throbbing in their backside.


Post a Comment

<< Home