The Debate for Legalizing Marijuana

Just this morning, a column in the Florida Today by Chris Muro referenced the impact the so-called “pot vote” will have on Governor Scott’s bid for reelection.  With states like Colorado & Washington State giving in to the tide of people clamoring for legalization, it’s important to educate ourselves about the issue – & not just the political side of it.

First of all, what is pot?  Among many slang terms, marijuana, pot, weed, etc. are all call-names for cannabis, a literal weed that has a natural abundance of cannabinoids, which is, chemically speaking, what causes the “high”.  According to Ray & Ksir , there are over 400 chemicals in the cannabis plant, but only 61 of them are unique to it (2004).  Politically speaking, “the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, which first criminalized cannabis, predated widespread cannabis use in the United States & had clear political origins” (Reinarman, Cohen, & Kaahl, 2004).  So, we know that yes, pot gets you high, & yes, it has been politically charged in this country since before it was well-known as a recreational drug.  However, what’s so bad about pot?  Well, remember how pot has all those different compounds & chemicals in it?  According to the Mayo Clinic, marijuana also has “50 percent to 70 percent more carcinogenic hydrocarbons than does tobacco smoke and has the potential to cause cancer of the lungs and respiratory tract” (2006).  It’s also usually held in the lungs for longer than tobacco smoke, which ups the lungs’ exposure to carcinogens, which in turn cause lung cancer.  In addition, the second-hand smoke is just as, if not more dangerous, as cigarette smoke.  Hmm, so pot smoking is potentially more damaging than smoking regular ol’ death sticks.  Alright, you may say, but what if I responsibly smoke, away from people, in my own home?  I’m only responsible for my own health.  You’d be correct, but there’s a catch: Reinarman, et al. said in their study that seasoned users regulate their pot usage to fit in with social norms of their culture or co-culture (2004).  So, you essentially have an addiction, that is managed.  However, that raises the question of productivity. 

Let’s say you have someone who is an alcohol addict.  This person works a regular 9-5 job, but drinks outside of work hours.  His compulsion to drink soon becomes strong enough that it’s difficult to reign in, & he starts to sneak a drink or two while on the job.  Eventually, he’s caught by his boss after he makes a mistake in his duties, & is sent to mandatory rehab, during which time, he’s not being productive in his profession.  This same scenario could just as easily apply to one who smokes pot.  The proponents of legalizing pot say that alcohol is just as damaging, but what they fail to understand is that someone who drinks is not always a lush, but anyone who smokes marijuana has a greater chance of becoming addicted, because different chemical pathways are at work in the brain.  Addiction to alcohol, a depressant, is vastly different from THC, the active compound in pot that makes it so addicting.

The other factor that you can use to draw a parallel between alcohol & marijuana is the social rituals surrounding both.  For wine, beer, whiskey, vodka, etc. there are deeply-ingrained traditions, many of them cultural.  For cannabis, the earliest record of recreational or other use dates back to ancient China, where it was used medicinally.  However, just because something has been around for a very long time does not mean that it is without dangers, or even particularly helpful.  Even early users of the potent weed noted its negative aftereffects & side effects, notably lethargy & a lack of interest in basic biological urges (in Roman times, it was used to “suppress sexual longing” (Booth, 2005).  It’s also helpful to note that before regulations & laws, substances as varied as opium, cocaine, & chocolate were all considered to be “medicinal”.  Getting back to the social rituals aspect, modern medicine has succeeded in teasing out the chemical compounds in cannabis that could potentially be used as analgesics or pain-relievers for chronic or terminal illness.  This synthetic version of pot, carefully made to only be medicinal, without all the carcinogens & harmful chemicals, is, in many proposed forms, a small pill to be taken orally.  However, if you ask the average pot-smoker, they would much rather smoke the weed for the high than take a pill.  It would be the equivalent of inventing a pill that, when it hits your stomach, immediately causes inebriation.  Not as fun as sitting & drinking, or sitting & smoking, with the buzz or the high acting as the reward.  So, the problem we mainly face with pot is a social one, more related to human behavior than simple addiction.

The other argument pot advocates often put forth is that marijuana is harmless, at least compared to “harder” drugs.  According to a study by Krakauer & Hannah, a lower IQ & persistent memory problems are risk factors for anyone smoking pot who is not fully-developed.  So, if you’re under 18, the plasticity of your brain will be adversely affected by getting high (2012).  This is the same argument, incidentally, why you shouldn’t smoke or drink in excess as a child or teenager.  Common sense says that until your brain stops rearranging & pruning its neurons, any outside factors, especially chemical ones, will hurt you in the long run.  The biggest problem with exclusivity (that is, banning the sales of drugs & alcohol to minors) is that it makes these items a social taboo, & thus, tantalizingly irresistible to rebellious kids & teens.  Without proper education & a sound family unit predicated on respect for elders & authorities, many young Americans succumb to addiction when they are most vulnerable.  So, in the end, it all comes down to discipline & using our uniquely human brains to parse out what decision best affects the whole society. 

What can we do to halt the tide of legislation that seeks to legalize marijuana?  In a word, education.  Separating the facts & myths from the scientific studies & empirical data will be key in the coming months, years, & far into the future when arguing against legalization of a harmful substance that is part of a rapidly-growing subculture, members of whom are mobilized to protest, rally, & vote.  If we become a society of wanton smokers, drinkers, & other classes of hedonists, then we will become trapped in an almost literal lotus-eater machine, not realizing our full potential, & not even caring about our mental & philosophical stagnation.  Unfortunately, with politics in the driver’s seat, & common sense thrown under the bus, it’s looking like marijuana will be just another brick laid in the road to oblivion as overly-zealous lawmakers & politicians seek to appease their uneducated bases.  They clamor for tolerance, open-mindedness, & individual freedom while ignoring the documented consequences of dumbing down the next generation & numbing the current one.

Questionnaire Results

Greetings readers!  It’s been a while, but we’ve all been busy – I’ve been hard at work trying to compile results for the survey mentioned in the last post!  Now, a quick note: while I strived to obtain a statistically significant sample size, this is not a scientific poll.  That being said, on to the results!

Most who took the survey were Republicans, but I did get some other respondents.  The results were split evenly between those who registered the party of their parents, and those who rebelled and went in the opposite direction.

Less people felt pressured by family, friends, and others to vote along a specific party line, and nobody polled had any reservations about revealing their party affiliation.  Most reported that they were not affected by the past 2-3 elections, in terms of telling people their affiliation.

The most common reason for not revealing one’s political affiliation was, unsurprisingly, fear of not finding or being turned down for a job.  The other prevalent reason was reticence in the face of alienation.  Most surveyed will disagree politely and drop the subject of politics in casual conversation, but a close second reported that they vehemently stand their ground and argue their positions.  Most felt that they can sufficiently argue their political point, though just as many felt it wasn’t an issue.

Of the people polled, respondents described the public’s view of the Republican Party as: rich, white, educated, and male, among the most common responses.  On the other side of the coin, they described their own views of the party as: upper middle class, all ages, all incomes, and all genders.  A staggering majority of those polled viewed themselves as outliers in the GOP.  Most were either very or somewhat involved with Republican activities, though I must clarify that this is a biased sample in that regard.  The distribution of activities those polled were involved in covered everything from making phone calls to precinct walking, and everything in between.  Interestingly, most felt that the GOP was severely out of touch with their age group/generation.

 

Now for the hard data.  Wherever the percentages do not add up to 100% for any given category, this indicates where some questions were left blank and thus, not answered.  I had 22 surveys that were completely filled, so that is my (admittedly small) sample size.

Question #1 asked for date of birth.  I found that, in this sample at least, we had a range from between 1972 and 2000, with a majority tie between people born in 1988, and those born in 1996.

Question #2 asked, “On your voter registration card, what is your political affiliation marked as?”  Of the responses, 19 (86.3%) identified as Republican, 0 (0%) as Democrat, 0 (0%) as Independent, and 3 (13.63%) identified as other.

Question #3 asked, “When you first registered to vote, did you automatically register the party of your parents?”  It was evenly split between those who did respond (some did not), with 45.5% Yes, and 45.5% No.

Question #4 asked, “When you first registered to vote, was there pressure (from family, peers, etc.) towards a specific affiliation?”  18.2% indicated yes, but an overwhelming 81.8% said no.

Question #5 asked, “Are you open about your affiliation?”  Interestingly, 100% of responses said “yes”, but in a more diverse (and possibly less politically active) sample, this probably would not be the case.

Question #6 asked, “How have the last 2-3 elections affected your openness about your political affiliation?”  The answer choices were:

  • Greatly affected; I don’t reveal my party at all to strangers, peers, etc.  9.1%
  • Somewhat affected; I don’t reveal my party as much to strangers/peers  13.6%
  • Not affected at all; I have not changed my habits  36.4%
  • Somewhat affected; I’m a bit more outspoken about my party ideology to friends, peers, etc.  18.2%
  • Greatly affected; I am very outspoken in defense of my party to friends, peers, and strangers  22.7%

This result shows that, while the majority noticed no change in their behavior, a significant number became more outspoken about their beliefs.

Question #7 asked, “If applicable, check any of the following boxes for reasons why you don’t reveal your ideology as much.”  The answer choices were:

♦       I’m afraid of being turned down for a job by an employer with a different ideology from mine  31.8%

♦       I’m afraid of losing/alienating friends/business associates  18.1%

♦       My ideology is opposite of/very different from my parents’  13.6%

♦      My ideology is opposite of/very different from my significant other  0%

♦       I live in a community/neighborhood/building where my ideology is not the dominant majority  4.5%

♦      I don’t want my children/younger siblings/ etc. to be alienated or bullied for my beliefs  0%

♦       I am worried about retaliation on social media sites, blogs, and other websites I frequent  9.1%

♦       The dominant ideologies of my church/faith/beliefs are at odds with my political ideology  0%

♦       Other:_______________________  9.1%

Jobs are, again, the greatest source of trepidation for young conservatives.

Question #8 asked, “When with friends, colleagues, etc., if the conversation turns to political views that you do NOT hold, do you:” The answer choices were:

  • Agree enthusiastically, even if it means lying  4.5%
  • Agree briefly to avoid making waves  4.5%
  • Ask to change to a different, non-political topic of discussion/Change the subject  9.1%
  • Disagree, politely, then drop it  45.5%
  • Disagree, vehemently, and continue to argue your viewpoint  36.4%

This was an interesting result, showing that while most of us don’t like to make waves and preserve social connections, almost as many would rather uphold their political and moral views at any social cost.

Question #9 asked, “If you don’t reveal your ideology openly, is it because you feel that you cannot adequately defend your position?”  13.6% answered yes; 40.9% answered no; and 40.9% answered N/A.

We obviously don’t have a problem with confidence and debating skills, as per the results of the last question.

Question #10 asked, “How would you describe the general public’s view of the Republican Party, in terms of age, gender, income bracket, and education level?”  This was an open-ended question, but there were some overlaps in individual answers given.  50% of respondents described the GOP as “rich, white, men”.  27.2% said they were “older, male”.  13.6% thought the public sees members of the GOP as “poor, uneducated”.

Question #11 asked, “How would you describe your personal, observed view of the Republican Party, in terms of age, gender, income bracket, and education level?”  Again, an open-ended question, yet here too, there was some consensus.  18.2% thought that the GOP is “upper middle class”.  18.2% felt they were “all ages, races, etc.”  9.1% said they were “a variety of income levels”.  9.1% reported that they were “out of touch, out of date”.  9.1% thought they were “middle-aged seniors”.

Question #12 asked, “Do you feel that you are a typical representative of the party?  Or are you an outlier?”  Interestingly, 22.7% thought they were typical, but 68.2% think of themselves as outliers.

The last three questions are linked, so the responses show a distinct pattern: young people are aware of the societal stereotype of Republicans, they reject that stereotype with their own experience, but they still don’t feel fully a member of the party.

Question #13 asked, “How involved are you with the Republican Party?  (Joining groups, organizations, collecting signatures, participating in campaigns/fundraisers, etc.)”  The answer choices were:

  • Very involved 36.4%
  • Somewhat involved 31.8%
  • Occasionally involved 9.1%
  • Rarely involved 4.5%
  • Not involved at all 9.1%

This was a great result, and I’m pleased that so many young people are so involved!

Question #14 asked, “Please list examples of what activities you have been involved in.”  The following are the most frequent answers given: Phone calls –13.6%, Tea Party – 13.6%, Campaigns – 22.7%, Volunteering – 13.6%, UCF/YR – 9.1%, BREC – 9.1%, Brevard YR’s – 13.6%, T.A.R.S. – 9.1%, Yard signs – 13.6%, Contributions – 18.2%, Bumper stickers – 13.2%, Voting – 13.6%, Precinct walking – 9.1%.

Question #15 asked, “Do you feel that you are alienated from the Republican Party, either due to your beliefs, your age, or some other factor (such as the party not directly targeting your demographic, or openly disparaging it)?”  9.1% said, “Yes, they don’t consider me a Republican”.  59.1% said, “Yes, they’re out of touch”.  9.1% said, “I’m neutral on this”.  9.1% said, “No, there are some communication issues, but I feel included”.  9.1% said, “No, I’m fully a part of the GOP”.

 

Based on the results, there were some hypotheses that I had which were confirmed, such as many young people feeling slightly or even severely alienated from the GOP.  There were other results however, that I did not expect, such as young peoples’ openness about their affiliation.  All in all, it was an interesting study, one that I hope to repeat again someday with a larger sample size.

Young Republicans Questionnaire

Greetings to my readers! It’s been a while, but I’m a big believer in quality over quantity, plus I promised you all something interesting for this post. Behold! In an attempt to pin down just why liberalism is so widespread, & conservatives are so timid these days, I’ve formulated a questionnaire to get to the bottom of young voters’ feelings on the current political state.

If you are between the ages of 18 & 40 years old, I encourage you to fill out this survey, & return it to brevardyoungrepublicans@gmail.com to contribute to the COMPLETELY CONFIDENTIAL results that will be tabulated in my next post. If you’d like, you may also send an e-mail requesting the original Microsoft Word document, if you’d find that easier to fill out.

The following is a series of questions regarding your thoughts and opinions on various aspects of YOUR political ideology. Please answer honestly and openly (questionnaire is confidential).

1. Please clearly write or type your date of birth in the MM/DD/YYYY format: __________________________

2. On your voter registration card, what is your political affiliation marked as?
o Democrat
o Independent
o Republican
o Other ___________________________________

3. When you first registered to vote, did you automatically register the party of your parents?
o Yes
o No

4. When you first registered to vote, was there pressure (from family, peers, etc.) towards a specific affiliation?
o Yes
o No

5. Are you open about your affiliation?
o Yes
o No

6. How have the last 2-3 elections affected your openness about your political affiliation?
o Greatly affected; I don’t reveal my party at all to strangers, peers, etc.
o Somewhat affected; I don’t reveal my party as much to strangers/peers
o Not affected at all; I have not changed my habits
o Somewhat affected; I’m a bit more outspoken about my party ideology to friends, peers, etc.
o Greatly affected; I am very outspoken in defense of my party to friends, peers, and strangers

7. If applicable, check any of the following boxes for reasons why you don’t reveal your ideology as much.
□ I’m afraid of being turned down for a job by an employer with a different ideology from mine
□ I’m afraid of losing/alienating friends/business associates
□ My ideology is opposite of/very different from my parents’
□ My ideology is opposite of/very different from my significant other
□ I live in a community/neighborhood/building where my ideology is not the dominant majority
□ I don’t want my children/younger siblings/ etc. to be alienated or bullied for my beliefs
□ I am worried about retaliation on social media sites, blogs, and other websites I frequent
□ The dominant ideologies of my church/faith/beliefs are at odds with my political ideology
□ Other: ______________________________________________________________________

8. When with friends, colleagues, etc., if the conversation turns to political views that you do NOT hold, do you:
o Agree enthusiastically, even if it means lying
o Agree briefly to avoid making waves
o Ask to change to a different, non-political topic of discussion/Change the subject
o Disagree, politely, then drop it
o Disagree, vehemently, and continue to argue your viewpoint

9. If you don’t reveal your ideology openly, is it because you feel that you cannot adequately defend your position?
o Yes
o No
o N/A
The next section deals with your opinions of and feelings towards the Republican Party; if you are not a registered Republican, you may optionally skip this section.

10. How would you describe the general public’s view of the Republican Party, in terms of age, gender, income bracket, and education level?
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________

11. How would you describe the your personal, observed view of the Republican Party, in terms of age, gender, income bracket, and education level?
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________

12. Do you feel that you are a typical representative of the party? Or are you an outlier?
o Typical
o Outlier

13. How involved are you with the Republican Party? (Joining groups, organizations, collecting signatures, participating in campaigns/fundraisers, etc.)
o Very involved
o Somewhat involved
o Occasionally involved
o Rarely involved
o Not involved at all

14. Please list examples of what activities you have been involved in.
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________
_____________________________________________________________________________________

15. Do you feel that you are alienated from the Republican Party, either due to your beliefs, your age, or some other factor (such as the party not directly targeting your demographic, or openly disparaging it)?
o Yes, I feel like they don’t consider me a true Republican
o Yes, they’re a little out of touch with my generation
o Neutral/No opinion
o No, I think they have a few communication issues, but otherwise I feel included
o No, I feel as though I am fully a part of the GOP

Thank you for filling out this questionnaire!

Different Types of Conservatives

 

This generation has no world war, and nothing on par with the Great Depression.  Instead, we have a creeping, insidious social upheaval threatening America.  How we deal with this issue of our generation will prove how mature we are, and whether our young people deserve to carry the mantle of responsibility into the future.

To that end, we need to examine the sociopolitical status of the most important core group of voters; the ones who will turn the tides come election time: young people.  More specifically, we need to look at the difference between young democrats and young conservatives.  The former are in general more open about their beliefs, who they support, etc.  The latter are just the opposite in a disproportionate number of cases: they are timid, unwilling to voice opinions in public for fear of ridicule, and they may not openly identify as conservatives, much less Republicans-with-a-capital-R.  Now, a distinction must be made before we move any further.  I said that a disproportionate number of cases do not openly exclaim that they are Republicans, which leaves several subcategories of what I call the “covert conservative”.

First, there is the level above the classes of covert conservative – those who are as open about their political stance as they are about their eye color – we’ll call them “conspicuous conservatives”.  These are the young people who bravely start conservative clubs on their college campuses, who hand out literature, and who actively participate in the sociopolitical scene.  They are not my main focus, because they are already doers – I would be preaching to the choir if I addressed them, visible as they already are.  So, let’s discuss the next tier: those who are not socially open about their views, but are active in them.

“Closet conservatives”, as we’ll call them, are more numerous than society gives them credit for – and that is exactly the point.  They may furtively wear an elephant-shaped lapel pin, or subtly display a miniscule, gold dollar sign on their car’s bumper, but unless pressured or directly questioned, will never admit to their acquaintances and colleagues their political state.  This social camouflage has its advantages, as I can personally attest.  Especially in certain work environments, where liberalism is the norm, and any deviation is seen as grounds for discouragement and even punishment, such blatant actions as the conspicuous conservatives are wont to display may be unwarranted, even dangerous to one’s career.  So, the closet conservative becomes passive-aggressive, cunning, a master of subterfuge.  One example of a closet conservative’s modus operandi is to use anonymous means to spread conservative thought.  In the last election, everyone from visitors to bathrooms on college campuses to grocery store shoppers would sometimes find sticky notes pasted proclaiming, “$5.79 a gallon?  Obama’s gotta go!”, and similar messages (Sources:http://www.theblaze.com/blog/2011/04/29/update-sticky-note-campaign-gains-momentum/; http://tampa.cbslocal.com/2012/02/22/florida-drivers-shelling-out-nearly-6-a-gallon-at-some-gas-stations/).  That’s all well and good, if you’re a savvy conservative trying to wear a social mask, but what if the liberal machine has truly invaded your sense of value?

Then, you become a “clinical conservative”.  Clinical in this sense means detached, and that is the characteristic of this group.  They may have an “R” on their voter registration card, but you wouldn’t know it by meeting them in person, talking with them, or looking at their social circles.  In short: they only vote Republican, if they can be bothered to vote at all, and do little to nothing beyond that.  They are the final goal of the liberal establishment machine, the faithful acolytes to Saul Alynski’s Rules for Radicals.  They have been cowed, tamped down by social forces all around them, so that they are compliant, afraid of expressing their beliefs for fear of becoming pariahs.

Now, for those of you reading and evaluating, putting yourselves into neat little mental boxes based on the subjective categories I have described, please do not think that I am berating or condemning those who I deem clinical conservatives – everyone can change, and the goal is not to remain in your box, but to have your pick of boxes.  Someone who is a closet conservative at work may be a conspicuous conservative outside the workplace, or vice-versa, or any other number of combinations.  With that in mind, clinical conservatives, especially those who are Millennials (anyone under 40), are a growing liability to the Republican Party.  Why?  Simply put, they contribute little to nothing to the Republican agenda.  The sad fact is that the Democrats are better at mobilizing, getting out the vote, and winning elections than we are.  They’re smarter, less scrupulous, and willing to claw their way to victory any way they can.  I’m not publicly advocating abandoning all of our morals and willingly taking up the banner of Whatever-It-Takes, but I do recommend taking pages, heck, even whole chapters, from the Democrats’ playbook.  The only reason their tactics work is because we let them work.

My next entry will delve deeper into the mindset of the younger generation of republicans, conservatives, and libertarians, so we can learn a little more about their viewpoints and opinions.  If you would like to contribute your perspective, please comment and/or contact me.

“Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.”
Anonymous

First inaugural post of my blog – always good to start with some sharp wit, even if it is borrowed. ;^)

“Politicians ar…