Bernie Sanders just said the one thing that could propel him into the White House. Pot is on the table. The comment was meek, and full of maybe’s, but it could bring a lot of voters out to cast a vote for Bernie who would have never done so in ordinary times. You see, the times we live in are far from ordinary.
In 1998, conservative South Carolina was a staunchly Republican state with a strong religious base. But no lottery tickets. You had to go to Georgia to buy one of those. To incumbent Governor David Beasley, this was a non-issue. Beasley was a bit of a dud, but there seemed to be no chance of his losing reelection. He was sitting pretty.
Democrat Jim Hodges was not sitting pretty. His battle was all uphill in the new south. He did not have much to offer the citizens, but when David Beasley came down hard on the question of a lottery in South Carolina, Hodges saw an opening. Hodges ran on lottery tickets. Every ad he ran was about how good South Carolinians were spending money that should be going to South Carolina schools, and sending it straight to Georgia schools. He made the idea of lottery a good thing. But there was more to this than school funding.
You can bear witness all you want, and we know that good Baptist folk don’t dance or gamble. To a lot of deeply conservative Christians, gambling required a card table and the deed to the family farm. A lottery ticket was as harmless as a raffle ticket at a church social. The other thing that Beasley did not realize was the demographics of the people in the south were changing. It was okay to dance occasionally, and as long as it was only a dollar, well, that’s not real gambling. That is an amusement. Hodges won.
Marijuana is the lottery ticket of this decade. Canada will soon legalize marijuana. Mexico, tired of fighting what amounts to a guerilla war against the suppliers of America’s insatiable appetite for all things mind-altering, is considering making some changes. Seems they are tired of fighting a war that the US cannot win on their side of the border. In fact, the floodgates on marijuana opened when Colorado said it was okay to buy pot for recreational purposes. Medical marijuana is everywhere. There is no going back.
And there is no stigma either. Too many kids tried pot in high school, or still smoke it now, decades later. Most of them now realize that alcohol is the real culprit that destroys lives. Their political stance is irrelevant. They want lottery tickets, and they want pot. The war is over. Pot won. Don’t tell Nancy Reagan.
Which puts Bernie Sanders in a very interesting position. No one on the right is going to advocate legalization, and a lot of good republicans would not mind buying a joint along with their lottery ticket. What the Hodges win in South Carolina showed us was that when a person enters the voting booth, and the decision is between them and their maker, many opt for what they want, regardless what their party tells them they want. This, combined with a lackluster stable of candidates on the right might just lure a lot of yellow-dog Republicans astray. Remember, the party of ‘law and order’ is also the party of ‘leave me alone’. Now, wouldn’t that be something? These are not ordinary times, my friends.