Rightwing politicos and leftwing politicos don’t usually agree on specifics, but they do often agree on principle: namely, that government’s proper sphere of authority does extend beyond protection against the initiation of force.
Like most politicians, today’s politicians, both right and left, believe that human beings are not capable of flourishing without the aid of bureaucrats; these bureaucrats therefore believe they must help us live our lives for us. And nowhere is this unquestioned conviction made clearer than in the issue of drugs.
Drugs, like prostitution, provide us with an excellent example of how the rightwing and the left are not fundamentally opposed but merely disagree on superficialities, insofar as both sides agree that not all drugs should be legal.
This notion is so entrenched in the mind’s of Americans that to question its legitimacy at all is considered lunatic-fringe thinking.
True, there are representatives on both sides of the political spectrum who support legalizing marijuana and perhaps a few other drugs. But start talking about legalizing all drugs on principle, or mention doing away with all drinking-age laws on principle, and all liquor laws on principle, or speak of legalizing gambling and prostitution in all states and cities — and then you really begin to sort out the men from the boys.
The principle I’m speaking of is of course the principle that it is not within the proper sphere of government to be involved in these aspects of human lives.
If we each possess the right to our own life and only our own life — and we do — then drug usage is obviously the right of each individual. The fact that it has become unquestionable to the majority that we do not possess the right to use drugs is we choose is a sad testament to the power of entrenchment.
It is a sad testament to how people get so used to thinking about something in one way that changing minds becomes absolutely out of the question. Yet if you truly believe in freedom, which the overwhelming majority of people don’t, you not only should but must believe in the legalization of all drugs. If you do not, then you do not believe in freedom, and you must choose: freedom or statism.
This point can be made on principle alone, and it is a foolproof argument, the first and strongest line of defense. But it will not satisfy those who believe the proper scope of government does extend into telling us how we may and may not live.
This point was very recently hammered home to a UC Hastings law professor named Clark Freshman, who, in his own words, had “been on the fence for years about the legalization of drugs … and now I’m a victim of this crazy war on drugs.”
So we have another convert. The only question I have is for Mr. Freshman is this: what the hell took you so long?
(Hat tip Timothy Sandefur.)