Monday, June 06, 2005

Traditional Conservatism Goes Up in Puff of Smoke

I not only didn't inhale back in my college years, I never even used marijuana.

That's not a self-righteous assertion of virtue, mind you. The reason I never did dope is that I couldn't stand the thought of being out of control.

But, in fact, I always thought it was a bad idea to decriminalize marijuana use. Backtrack from a hard and fast societal condemnation of the stuff, I reasoned, and we could never change our minds about it. So, what follows is no pro-weed screed.

The US Supreme Court has today told states that even in the case of grass that's homegrown and not, therefore, a commodity of interstate commerce, the feds may prosecute users who light up under doctor's orders.

It's interesting because this ruling was sought by a Republican administration and rendered by a Republican Supreme Court. Conventional states' rights thinking, one surmises, would say that Republicans would side with the ten states that provide for the legal use of marijuana in medical treatment. States' righters would simply be expected to take a hands-off attitude about state laws in a matter that doesn't seem to be under federal jurisdiction.

But of course, the values wing of the Republican coalition seems to be trumping traditional conservatism a lot lately. They are radically reworking the definition of "conservative" to include behavioral micromanagement which, I feel certain, would be condemned by Ronald Reagan and especially by Mr. Conservative himself, Barry Goldwater.

After Congress' midnight passage of special Terri Schaivo legislation a few months ago, I wrote:
...the legislation passed by Congress and signed by the President this morning confirms what has been increasingly obvious in the past four years: Conservatism, as the core philosophy of the Republican Party, is now, if not dead, completely moribund.
It doesn't look like things have changed. Two of the three dissenters from the medical marijuana ruling today were Chief Justice Rehnquist and Justice O'Connor. These two Arizona associates of Barry Goldwater, the one appointed by Richard Nixon and the other by Reagan, are vestiges of conservatism as it was once defined. Their breed has been replaced by big government advocates who don't mind deficits or federal intrusion as long they're the ones doing the spending and the intruding.

No comments: