While cannabis law reform advocates and Drug War reformers on the progressive side of the political spectrum have largely flocked to support Bernie Sanders, many conservatives and libertarians have stood by the candidacy of Rand Paul. Senator Paul started off the race for the Republican nomination as one of the front-runners, but his polling numbers declined dramatically, although his campaign has been touting a bit of an uptick as of late.
Donald Trump has soared to the top of the polls and has rather amazingly shown an ability to maintain his front-runner status, despite many controversial statements that would normally sink any presidential candidate. Thus far, a large percentage of 2016 presidential primary voters have shown a desire to support outsider, anti-establishment candidates, helping fuel the candidacies of Trump and former neurosurgeon Ben Carson over the likes of Jeb Bush.
Since the 2016 presidential election has favored outsiders, Senator Paul made a grave mistake, in my opinion, challenging Trump about his status as a “true” Republican during the first GOP debate after the real estate developer wouldn’t pledge to support the eventual GOP nominee. The party outsider has been a great place to be for candidates on the Republican side and Paul aligned himself too closely with the establishment by going after Trump. Additionally, Paul’s attack put him in the crosshairs of Trump and it has proven very difficult to be in a war of words with someone who seemingly doesn’t have to worry about sounding “presidential”.
Apparently, Senator Paul has had enough and he has decided to forcefully take on Donald’s Trump candidacy. In an interview with Newsmax, he states that nominating Trump would be a “disaster for our party and the country” and that he would “probably be the largest loser of any candidate in the history of our country.” When speaking about the Democrats, Paul goes after Bernie Sanders democratic socialist ideas, declaring that the use of force could be utilized, invoking Communist dictators like Mao Tse Tung and Joseph Stalin.
I certainly don’t agree with Senator Paul lumping the policy proposals of Bernie Sanders with Mao and Stalin. Paul claims that socialist countries utilize violence to achieve its goals, but Sanders’ policies are intended to put fewer people in jail as reforming the Drug War and our criminal justice system have become top priorities of Sanders’ campaign. Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal policies and the government programs in Denmark, Sweden and Norway didn’t require violence by the state. Despite my political disagreements regarding democratic socialism, I do appreciate that Senator Paul has challenged the Republican status quo on the War on Drugs.
We are seeing a significant shift in our political discussions around ending cannabis prohibition and the greater Drug War. Rand Paul (and his father Ron) deserve a great deal of credit for criticizing the War on Drugs within the GOP. With Bernie Sanders strongly advocating for reform on the Democratic side and Justin Trudeau and the Canadian Liberal Party calling for marijuana legalization as well, we are seeing unprecedented momentum for sensible drug law reforms.
To his credit, Donald Trump is relatively sensible on marijuana policy, supporting medical marijuana and seemingly sticking to a states’ rights position on adult use. Actually, only a few major Republican candidates are adhering to Reefer Madness propaganda and policies. On drug policy, I don’t think that Trump would be a disaster, but on other policies facing our nation, Rand Paul may be right.
(Featured photo credit: Getty Images)