A Third Party Victory is Inevitable Part 1: ...So Why Not Now?
Part 2: I'm Outraged!
Part 3: How I Became a Green
Part 4: Comparing the Platforms
Part 5: An Open Letter to Al Gore
Part 6: Vote for Ralph! (Unless...)
By Andrew Looney

Part 4: Comparing the Platforms

Figuring out what a candidate thinks or even espouses about a given topic can be difficult when all we hear are soundbites from speeches. Fortunately, the web (All Hail the Internet) is making this easier... now you can just go to the web to get quotes from Every Presidential Candidate on Every Issue, including drugs.

Of course, politicians are notorious for flip-flopping on issues and changing their stories, so to find out the official party line on a specific issue, you have to read the actual party platforms. Just a few years ago this would have meant a lot of searching through documents and wading through legalese; but once again the net has changed everything, by providing easy access to all of their platforms, complete with hyper-links and search engines to make it easy to find out the written policy on any given issue. So let's take a look at what the top half-dozen party platforms actually have to say about the issue I'm outraged about the most, namely the drug war:

The Republican Party

Unfortunately, the Republican party hasn't discovered hyper-links or local search engines yet, so I can't be sure, but I don't think their current platform mentions illegal drugs at all. Isn't that interesting? They declared this war on drugs, and now they have nothing to say in support of it?

The Democratic Party

This isn't actually in their platform, but rather in an accompanying position paper:

"Crime / Illegal Drugs: The Democratic Party strongly believes that our government's primary responsibility is to promote law and order. We are committed to fighting crime and illegal drug use -- particularly among our nation's children -- by building a criminal justice system in which criminals are caught, the guilty are convicted, and the convicted serve their time. We agree with law enforcement officials, however, that the best way to reduce crime and illegal drug use is to prevent Americans from engaging in these activities in the first place."

I think it's appalling to lump addiction in with real crimes like theft, murder, rape, and assault...

The Libertarian Party

The Libertarians are still the best on this issue, which is right at the top of their list of main priorities:

"The so-called "War on Drugs" is in reality a war on the American people, our Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. We deplore the suffering that drug misuse has brought about; however, drug prohibition is more dangerous than drugs themselves. The War on Drugs is a grave threat to individual liberty, to domestic order and to peace in the world; furthermore, it has provided a rationale by which the power of the state has been expanded to restrict greatly our right to privacy and to be secure in our homes. We specifically condemn the use of "profiles" as sufficient to satisfy the probable cause requirement of the Fourth Amendment, the use of "civil asset forfeiture" to reduce the standard of proof historically borne by government in prosecutions, and the use of military forces for civilian law enforcement as an exception to the Posse Comitatus Act which forbids this practice. We call for the repeal of all laws establishing criminal or civil penalties for the use of drugs and of "anti-crime" measures restricting individual rights to be secure in our persons, homes, and property; limiting our rights to keep and bear arms; or vote."

The Green Party

On the other hand, you have to dig to find the Green Party's position:

"(20) We support decriminalization of "VICTIMLESS" CRIMES, for example, the possession of small amounts of marijuana.
(21) We call for legalization of industrial hemp and all its many uses.
(22) We oppose the illicit activities of the international drug trade and the illicit money laundering that often accompanies the drug cartels. We call for a revised view of the "drug problem" and an end to the "war on drugs," recognizing that after over a decade of strident law-and-order posturing, the problems with hard drugs have only worsened."

The Constitution Party

Now, you'd think that a party called the Constitution Party would recognize the unconstitutionality of prohibition, right? Let's see:

"The Constitution Party will uphold the right of states and localities to restrict access to drugs and to enforce such restrictions in appropriate cases with application of the death penalty."

Whoa! But wait, at least they also say this:

"At the same time, we will take care to prevent violations of the Constitutional and civil rights of American citizens. Searches without probable cause and seizures without due process must be prohibited, and the presumption of innocence must be preserved."

Also, I was pleased and surprised to note that Howard Phillips opposes Plan Colombia...

The Buchanan-Reform Party and the Natural Law-Reform Party

I'm still waiting for the dust to settle...


Next, in Part 5: An Open Letter to Al Gore

Copyright © 2000 by Andrew Looney.

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