In the aftermath of Tuesdays defeat, republicans are awakening to the fact that there are just not enough angry white men to win a national election. They lost among every other identifiable demographic group most notably among the young. Their prime constituency is aging and as a natural consequence dying off. They must find a way to increase their appeal to young people and I have a suggestion guaranteed to help.
Within hours of their victory, surrogates of the Obama administration began appearing on various news venues to disparage the results of the marijuana legalization referendums in Colorado and Washington. They emphasized that marijuana remains illegal at the Federal level and that federal law enforcement agencies would continue to enforce the law.
Conservatives have long embraced the concept of Federalism as embodied in the 10th amendment;
“The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.”.
The implications of this were once articulated very eloquently by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis when he wrote that
“It is one of the happy incidents of the federal system that a single courageous State may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”
Surely this notion applies to the actions of the citizens of Colorado and Washington. It would be a manifestation of the very essence of constitutional conservatism if republicans were to embrace the “laboratory of the states” doctrine as it applies to the marijuana referendums. Obviously, I would love to see the Democrats take this position but the Obama administration is already signaling that they will not allow it.
Those of the progressive persuasion not star struck by Obama and his corporate democratic minions have an issue where they can make common cause with the libertarian wing of the Republican Party. The republicans would have a perfect issue to exemplify the evils of federal government overreach and split off, engage and perhaps capture some young voters.
Rest assured that whatever ideological gains Republicans may make among young people with this issue will be short lived as the old white men running the party will not be able to restrain their penchant for uttering stupid remarks about other constituencies of the democratic coalition.
Fearing the loss of some of their young voter’s, this gambit could be threatening enough to democrats to pressure Obama to back off long enough for the referendums to take effect and take hold. Once the benefits start to accrue there will be no going back.