As a Libertarian I have been very gratified by the impact of libertarian ideas over the last few decades. Libertarian think-tanks like the Cato Institute are very influential in “real world” politics. One reason for this is that politicians who would never be mistaken for intellectuals tend to treat them like intellectual buffets, where they can pick the ideas they like and ignore the ones that don’t fit their preconceived notions.
As the non-libertarian Lord Keynes once observed: “Practical men, who believe themselves to be quite exempt from any intellectual influences are usually the slaves of some defunct economist.”
Happily, they can also be influenced by non-defunct economists like Milton Friedman, who has once again called for the legalization of cannabis. Indeed, the libertarian intellectuals and think tanks have never hidden their opposition to the drugwar, and they have never suffered from it.
Consequently, I have been very disappointed that the Libertarian Party has not been more successful in presenting libertarian ideas to the voters.
It is true that the Republicans have stolen their thunder on taxes and the Second Amendment (gun rights). Indeed, the Republicans have become the NRA at prayer, but, sadly, the Democrats are merely the ACLU at rest.
Consequently, the Libertarian Party has been a victim of the success of SOME of the libertarian ideas. However, it has missed a major opportunity, because both the Democrats and Republicans have been strong supporters of the drugwar – including the war on medical cannabis, despite overwhelming public skepticism about the former and support for the latter.
Although the Libertarian Party platform has always made clear its opposition to prohibition, it has largely failed to take advantage of this opportunity created by the timidity and/or stupidity of the two main parties.
From October of 2000,
At Least the Libertarians Are Noting the Record Marijuana Arrests and Offer an Interesting Perspective. The Media Continue to be the Watchdog that Never Barks.
and from February of 2000
Libertarian Party Press Release Gives Data On Prison Population As It Passes 2 Million.
Nowhere has this failure been more tragically obvious than in its failure to take the lead in supporting its own drugwar opponents who were on the frontlines. The late Peter McWilliams’ book, It Ain’t Nobody’s Business If You Do, is a civil libertarian Bible, but when Peter was held on $250,000 bail, where was the Party? Oh, of course, they did issue a press release.
Libertarian Party Says Peter McWilliams Is Victim of Efforts To Discredit Medical Marijuana
And they invited him to speak at their convention. My point is not that they did nothing, but that they did not do enough. There was no national drive to free him. Here was a sympathetic victim of an outrageous abuse of the Constitutional ban on “Excessive Bail” – in addition to everything else, but Peter languished in jail for over a month before he was finally freed by his mother having to pledge her home to the Federal government. Then he was on his own.
A Plea From Peter McWilliams
Peter died much sooner than he would have otherwise because of his imprisonment.
The Murder of Peter McWilliams — An Indictment, Not an Obituary – by Richard Cowan
As I recall, the Party issued another press release.
Similarly, the Party issued a number of press releases when Steve Kubby was arrested.
State and National Libertarian Party Organizations Denounce Arrest
Of Medical Marijuana Activist Steve Kubby, Request Help For Legal Defense Fund
But when he was almost nominated to be the Party’s Vice Presidential candidate in 2000, the Party missed the chance to get out front on the medical cannabis issue.
Kubby Finishes Second in Close Race for Libertarian VP Nomination. Convention Speakers and Nominees Make Clear Libertarians Are The Anti-Prohibitionist Party. Special to MarijuanaNews
In all fairness, the Party did do more for the Kubbys than for McWilliams, but Steve was, after all, the Libertarian Party candidate for governor in California. However, that was then; this is now.
The Kubbys are in exile and it would appear “out of sight, out of mind” is the rule of the day. The Party has largely ignored the outrageous recent developments in their case. Basically, they have proven that their arrest was the result of fraud on the court, and it would appear that the court is in collusion with the prosecution and even the Federal government to cover-up this fraud. That is about as juicy as a scandal can get.
This is an opportunity that should be welcomed by any political party, especially one that needs to catch the public’s attention as badly as the libertarians. Its failure is glaringly obvious now that the medical cannabis issue is in the headlines. And as Steve Kubby himself has said, “If you want to be in the headlines, you need to be on the frontlines.” But the Libertarian Party is literally “missing in action.”
Let’s review the facts:
Steve Kubby was a very effective Libertarian Party candidate for governor of the most populous state. Indeed, he was targeted precisely because he was the Party’s candidate.
Court cases may or may not succeed in advancing individual rights, but they are an effective way to get media attention. They are “real” – not just “theory,” and that means news.
The narks in Placer County, California, are in serious trouble because of their behavior in other cases, so this is not “an isolated case” – and it involves issues that go far beyond the medical cannabis itself.
Placer County: Still Crazy After All These Years. Kubby Hearings Offer New Evidence California Law Enforcement Still Fighting Medical Cannabis Law. Special Report to MarijuanaNews.com
The medical cannabis issue is not only on the public agenda, it is in the headlines, and there are far more cannabis users – indeed far more medical cannabis users – than there are Libertarians.
The public overwhelmingly supports medical cannabis and – at least – the “decriminalization” of cannabis possession for “non-medical” use.
Leakin’ ‘Bout My G-G-Generation. Leak of AARP Poll On Medical Cannabis Assures Story Will Have Long Legs. Mainstreaming Real Threat To Prohibitionist Party Line.
The public is very skeptical about the drugwar, but neither of the major parties will criticize it.
“Putting the human face” on an issue is recognized as being one of the most effective political tools.
Understanding The Cultural War Against Medical Marijuana by Steve & Michele Kubby
The Kubby case “has it all.” Steve needs cannabis to live. He and his family have been forced into exile. He has a beautiful wife and children. His arrest and prosecution involved major violations of due process. He has a permit from Canada to grow a large amount of cannabis. These are all things that the media would “eat up” – if someone would get their attention.
If Cannabis Could Cure Cancer, They Would Tell Us, Right? No. Very Simply, It Would Undermine Cannabis Prohibition. Steve Kubby Is The Living Proof.
The Libertarian Party has sunk at the polls even as (many) libertarian ideas have become more successful, so clearly the Party needs an issue. In fact, it needs all the help it can get.
Oh, yes, it is the right thing to do. There would seem to be a moral obligation to stand up for its own, especially when they have been targeted precisely because of their activism on behalf of the Party.
DEAland On Trial At Kubby Refugee Hearings. Damning Testimony From A Patient, A Judge and Ed Rosenthal. Meanwhile, Congress Was Busy Making It Even Worse. Special Report to MarijuanaNews.com
Prosecutor Demands That Kubby Be Jailed to Die Without Medical Marijuana; Judge Agrees, But Jailer Refuses to Commit Murder. Just When You Thought They Couldn’t Get Any Crazier…
I hope that the Libertarian Party will not only be more forthcoming in its support for the Kubbys, but will make their case and medical cannabis a major issue for the Party and the libertarian movement. In fact, this case could be the foundation on which Libertarians could turn the Party into a true activist movement. If they do not, they risk irrelevance and may even deserve it.