Since last month, political analysts have wondered what the Republican Party could do to make itself less a source of amusement for younger voters. The problem is that for these people as well as single women, Hispanics, and African-Americans, when they vote in elections, invariably they choose the Democratic candidate. Too often, the Republican candidate takes on issue positions more relevant to the geriatrics that are their most likely vote sources.
Well, Republicans have noticed this as well. It’s sort of obvious to them that they are unlikely to win elections in the West Coast, New England, or in the Middle Atlantic States. If the current trends continue, states like Texas, Florida, North Carolina, Georgia, and Arizona will soon turn purple. The party has signaled that it wants to change its policy on illegal immigration since self-deportation was not regarded as positively by Hispanics as the GOP hoped. As far as gay marriage, any opposition voiced will be regional, and is likely to be disregarded by the rest of the party.
Much as attitudes have rapidly changed about gay marriage, they have also changed about marijuana. Like gay marriage, younger voters are more likely to be positively affected by this change. We see the regions that are first to take on social change already moving to legalize weed. In the West, Colorado and Washington have legalized recreational use. Medical marijuana is legal already in all of the western states, all of New England (with the obvious exception of New Hampshire), and even in Michigan. A number of other states are scheduled to vote on either recreational or medical use in the next few months.
Like gay marriage, legalization of pot easily fits into the GOP agenda since it is merely an extension of the party’s long-held libertarian values. The only parts of the party that would likely oppose the move would be the alcohol lobby and the social conservatives. The latter group has shown itself to be fully contained within the party, so little notice of them need be taken. The liquor lobby can be appeased with the GOP’s tax/subsidy policies.
Unlike gay marriage, I’d guess that virtually every voter under 60 has either smoked grass themselves or knows someone who does, with no ill effects. The pretension that it is a gateway drug is one of the sillier aspects of the current federal policy. The benefit to the Republicans changing their stance on marijuana is that for some reason, Obama continues to be completely antagonistic to this move. Therefore, they will show themselves more amenable to this than the Democrats. For once, they will be ahead of the learning curve.
Hat tip to micky for this thread idea.