I recently published a piece about I believe that the Right is correct when it says that there is a culture war. Conservatives have been on the wrong side of history when it comes to many social issues, most specifically race relations, women’s rights, and the rights of the LGBT community. However its one thing to say that the culture war has existed, and a totally new thing to talk about what will be the next social dominoes to fall. This piece is about what I believe will be the next things that people will demand to be changed.
On January 16th 1920 the Eighteenth Amendment came into effect. In 1933 this amendment was repealed, making it the only constitutional amendment to be done so in US history. The Eighteenth Amendment brought in the prohibition of alcohol and for the following thirteen years the United States enforced this inane law. We still live in a time of prohibition but it is not alcohol that is the subject of these laws. It is drugs.
The next thing that the culture war should look to get rid of is the prohibition of drugs. The United States should look to decriminalise and legalise all drugs. We have already seen movement on the issue of marijuana with a number of states decriminalising possession of the drug and four (Oregon, Alaska, Colorado & Washington) have legalised the recreational use of cannabis.
As well as being financially beneficial to the individual states themselves, simple economics tells us that this will make the cartels less powerful. If the supply of marijuana inside the US is dramatically increased, the demand for weed smuggled in from Mexico will go through the floor. Similarly, a greater supply will result in the price going down and therefore if drug cartels still smuggle drugs over the border, the money they will get for it will have significantly declined. Indeed don’t take my for it, a report by Deborah Bonello for the LA Times says: “the loosening of marijuana laws across much of the United States has increased competition from growers north of the border” and that “the amount they receive per kilogram has fallen from $100 to $30”.
If the US stops at marijuana but continues the prohibition of meth, cocaine, heroin etc. these cartels will shift their focus and produce these drugs as well. If the US were to legalise all these substances and regulate their production, these drug cartels would have no unique selling point any more. The only reason these cartels have any power or money is that they are selling a product that cannot be gotten anywhere else. If it is possible to get the same products without having to go to the cartels, they are the ones who lose.
Don’t get me wrong I’m not endorsing the usage of meth, cocaine or heroin etc. but the money generated from these trades can be used to discourage people from doing it in the first place. People will do these drugs whether they are legal or not; it is better that the government taxes and regulates these drugs than they are left in the hands of cartels that ruin the lives of people across Latin America.
The momentum behind ending the Drug War is greater than the second area which I believe the culture war should take on. Racism, discrimination against women, and the suppression of LGBT rights have all been justified by one thing: religion. Religion is on the decline on the United States and it is important that this taboo is exorcised (irony intended) from its currently dominant position in American public life. There have been a number of reasons why religion has become so integral to the political arena but it is now imperative that we do as much as possible to get it out.
Politicians being religious is nothing new in American history, for example all presidents have believed in a God in some form. However in the past forty years that has been a movement from a politicians’ faith being a part of their personality, to being a justification for all policy positions. So much so that it has become an important part of a politicians’ appeal to sound like they take religion seriously, as Obama has done by saying that he get’s scripture on his Blackberry every morning. Even if that isn’t true it still shows how religion is perceived in the wider country as important enough for the president to say this.
There has been some progress on this issue. According a poll by the Pew Research Centre, around 23% of Americans identify as ‘religiously unaffiliated’ which includes atheists, agnostics, deists and people who are religious but don’t identify as with one specific religion. To put this into perspective 25% of those in the poll identified as ‘evangelical protestants’. The people who are unaffiliated are almost the same in size as the evangelical voting block that rails against social issues like gay rights and abortion.
If a political party were to target the votes of people who are religiously unaffiliated in the 2016 or 2020 Presidential election, they could easily pick up a significant portion of the vote that is rarely spoken about. With these changing demographics, the culture war should double down and challenge right-wing Christians,which shouldn’t be a thing, to debate these issues in the public square. It used to be the case that if a candidate pointed to the sky to defend his policies, the audience would applaud his good moral values; those days are numbered, especially when these views are used to justify restrictions on women’s rights and to treat the LGBT community as second-class citizens.
The culture war exists, and it is important that it does. If we start to focus on these two things, drugs and religion, American society will be much better for it. The US economy would be boosted by the drugs trade becoming taxed and regulated, and crime rates would decline significantly. If religion is exposed for the giant con that it is, social issues will become less controversial and education will improve as there will be less time pretending there is a debate between evolution and ‘intelligent design’.
Activists have been battling for the rights of ethnic minorities, women, and the LGBT community for a long time. In many cases these two final battlegrounds not only right the wrongs that directly stem from these areas, but also reinforce the gains of other struggles especially for women and the LGBT community. It is therefore essential that the culture war takes aim at religion and drugs in order to create a more rational society for the American people.