So here we are, a few weeks after one of the weirdest election cycles of all time. The optimist in me says, “Oh, look! The people are waking up and realizing they do have the power after all.”
Of course, then the ghost of H.L. Mencken returns and points out that this very turnout is in and of itself a strong argument against democracy.
I don’t know what we’ve accomplished nor do I have any thoughts about the future. Keep on muddling on is about all I’ve got for it. My gut tells me that we the attention-deficited people will soon forget why we were mad enough at the sitting egos-that-be to vote a bunch of them out and start all over again. The result will likely be another couple of years of vitriol and obstructionism, followed by a nationwide grassroots temper tantrum, followed by another wave of Election Day bum’s rushes. In the end, we may have effectively accomplished the abolition of lengthy incumbencies -- which ain’t necessarily a bad thing in my book -- but beyond that, I don’t hope for too much.
Yet, in an election cycle of twists, turns, unheard-of turnout and unprecedented ignorance, one lost cause movement did catch my eye.
Alas for the stoners of California: Proposition 19 did not pass.
To oversimplify a bit, Proposition 19 would have legalized the cultivation and sale of marijuana in the state of California. Like other local organic farmers, small free-range pot ranchers could have opened up boutique shops and rented farmer’s market stalls to sell their products. People could have grown their own without fear of some army of humorless federal Ninjas kicking down doors and paraquating back yards.
Alas, they just didn’t get the turnout. Proposition 19 leaders blame this on a groundswell of older, conservative voters coming out in droves to exercise their right to validate their unfounded hysterias. They also said the young voters didn’t get out like they did in 2008.
In short, they couldn’t get enough voters motivated to support their cause.
And this was a surprise why?
In my experience, stoners are some of the most inert individuals on the planet. They are generally happy, laid-back, easy-going and peaceable, or lazy, disengaged, and under-achieving, depending on the prejudice of the beholder.
But one thing they generally are not is motivated.
I remember years ago, back in my younger days of extremely poor judgment, I went to a free concert in Piedmont Park in Atlanta. The concert was sponsored by the National Organization for the Reformation of Marijuana Laws; the band was a new chart sensation known for its hard-rocking, two-fisted approach to rock ‘n’ roll, a bunch of local boys made good known as the Black Crowes.
Two things I remember about that show. One, it rained like cats and dogs on everyone except the band. Two, the crowd was enormous, shoulder-to-shoulder, wet, muddy, and very much under the influence of the object of their politics.
But most of all, I noticed that, in spite of the close proximity nary a cross word was spoken nor a fist thrown. In fact, at one point, I watched as some poor guy tripped over a young hippie couple stretched out on the lawn, landing like a felled Sequoia tree on top of their flimsy Styrofoam cooler and shattering it into a million un-green, non-recyclable pieces.
All they said was something like, “Dude, you OK?”
Then they helped him up and pointed him on his way.
Therein lies a pretty good argument for legalizing pot. I have seen three beers turn a mild mannered pencil pusher from a big 8 accounting firm into a behind pinching, trash talking, hair-trigger tempered street fighting man.
But I’ve never seen a violent stoner.
As you can probably tell, I do have sympathy for the proponents of Proposition 19. And if a similar referendum were to come on the ballot here -- excuse me while I enjoy a hearty belly laugh over that thought -- I would in all likelihood vote in favor of it.
But I’m guessing the problem here would be the same as California -- just plain old lack of motivation. Maybe if organizers got them all to torch up, then bused them to the polls and told them the voting machines are just way cool video games, then a powerful new political force could be wielded.
But it will probably be a cold day in a hot place before you smell a lot of patchouli in a polling precinct, methinks.