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Arthur Schaper: RI GOP Should Get High…Really

Friday, August 16, 2013


Decriminalizing marijuana could help the RI GOP make a comeback, believes Arthur Schaper.

Before leaving office, former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy (D-of course!) took a stand against the decriminalization of marijuana. This guy left office for "took too many pills" so to speak, yet he has a growing fear of "reefer madness" in the Ocean State and throughout the nation? From "Chappaquiddick" to "Smoking-joints-ain't-chic", the Ted Kennedy–Pat Kennedy double-standard (public officials intent on micromanaging our private lives) is funny, sad, and just plain scary all in one throw, or blow, or one drive off of Martha's Vineyard. That any political dynasty gets away with such crass, two-faced grandstanding should be enough for Rhode Island voters to rethink one-party Democratic rule in Providence.

Sadly, out went Patrick Kennedy and in came David Cicilline, who has been indicted for…well, there's only so much that a website can show. Because of his marred mayoralty, Providence needs providence now more than ever, and the current Angel has fallen, like a certain son of the morning. Good news, GOP: Cicilline barely won his seat in 2010, and he remains unpopular. Brian Newberry for Congress, maybe?

If Democrats in the Northeast keeping pushing this perverse line of "nanny-state" micromanaging, then they will hand off to Northeastern Republicans like the Ocean State GOP the perfect wedge issue in future elections. The Rhode Island GOP can adopt libertarian defederalization and decriminalization policies and make the "stick-in-the-mud" Democrats look like the out-of-touch, welfare-state reactionaries that they are. Already, Rhode Island voters should blame the 3-to-1 Democratic political elite hegemony for the pension crisis buffeting the state (Central Falls has fallen, and Woonsocket has its you-know-what in a socket). A plurality of voters elected RINO, then INNO, now a DINO Governor Lincoln Chafee. Rhode Island voters ought to help themselves out with a little more of the Republican opposition in your statehouse. Voters should give the Republicans a shot at leadership. Twenty-six seats will put an end to the hyped-up anti-Democratic hypermajority Juggernaut, and a Chafee-Raimondo-Taveras tussle will give the GOP the opportunity to coalesce behind one candidate and win the Governor's seat.

Everybody's doing it

Decriminalization already has a slight precedent in other states. In 1996, California voters initiatived medical marijuana. Colorado and Washington State decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana last year. Republican US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has pressed for defederalization of marijuana and other controlled substances. Paul has also signaled that a more libertarian-leaning Republican Party can advance competitive candidates at the federal level to win the West and the Northeast. Rhode Island can help make it happen. Even Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg has argued that advocacy for "Big Government" at the state level or the city level would permit the National GOP to wage war against the Obama Welfare-warfare state without stepping on the toes of more liberal constituencies, like New England.

President Obama, and by extension every Kennedy except JFK have made the government so big, that even Big Government types are getting a-typically concerned (Rhode Island GOP: How about "The Government is Too Damn Big!" as a mantra?)

Rhode Island GOP: the grass (and grassroots) await you. Take a lead on decriminalizing, or better yet "defederalizing" controlled substances to the state level. Instead of the failed yet overly bailed Drug Enforcement Agency (their mascot is Patrick Kennedy, since he keeps them employed) taking stock of who smokes what, let every state decide and enforce the criminalization of controlled substances.

Light up

If New England conservative William F. Buckley (from Connecticut, and he always spoke with his teeth clenched!) endorsed decriminalization, if former Ways and Means Committee Chairman David Dreier (R-My home state of CA) suggested that this country rethink the drug laws, if even former RINO (yes, we have them too in CA) Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was willing to discuss the issue, then the Rhode Island Republicans should take the lead on pushing this policy statewide and nationwide. Rekindle among your ranks the complaisant tolerance of your founder Roger Williams. Lighten up and tell the people that they can "light up" without fear of incarceration or ostracization.

But if we let people get high, then won't they stay there?

Not a chance. The Netherlands decriminalized, and the police rejoiced that they had made pot "boring." In 2001, Portugal, a nation with pension crises which would make Rhode Island's budget issues look like mere rounding errors, pushed for administrative instead of criminal penalties. What happened? Drug use declined. Even tourist use diminished, and Portugal saved money, too. (Read all about it here)

Perhaps the decriminalization of controlled substances will keep former Congressman Patrick Kennedy calm and quiet, out of jail as well as away from the private lives of Rhode Island voters. Better yet, this stirring issue could fire up the Rhode Island GOP and bring back two-party conflict and compromise to a state which for too long has teetered under unchecked Democratic mismanagement. With a libertarian strand of bringing power back to the states, Rhode Island can rebound with Republican numbers rising up in the General Assembly, and the general welfare of all Rhode Islanders on the high and higher.


Arthur Christopher Schaper is a teacher-turned-writer on topics both timeless and timely; political, cultural, and eternal. A life-long Southern California resident, Arthur currently lives in Torrance. Follow him on Twitter @ArthurCSchaper, reach him at [email protected], and read more at Schaper's Corner and As He Is, So Are We Ministries.


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