I attended a Tea Party rally this morning in Santa Fe held on the steps of the state capital building. The keynote speaker was former Governor Gary Johnson who is rumored to be running for president. Gary is highly regarded in the state for his outstanding leadership during two terms as governor. He slashed the size of state government during his term and left the state with a large budget surplus. His speech brought enthusiastic applause from the sparse crowd. Governor Johnson should have stopped while he was ahead.
When Tea Party members were invited to ask questions, someone asked the governor if he supported legalization of marijuana. Gary responded that he did. His remarks brought a chorus of boos from the crowd. Gary went on to make the case for legalization based on the cost of incarcerating pot smokers, but the crowd wasn't having it. The boos erupted again. Some members of the crowd began to heckle the former governor. Lesson learned, I hope.
I still support Gary Johnson for president. He speaks honestly and sticks to his guns. I think he would make a fine chief executive for the nation. But the idea of pot legalization won't fly with conservatives if today's event is any indication. Maybe Gov. Gary Johnson should settle for suggesting that we need a national debate on the issue. I can fully appreciate the economic arguments. They certainly have merit. I'm not satisfied yet that we've answered the questions about the social costs of pot legalization.
EDITORS' UPDATE: Welcome Andrew Sullivan readers! Hey Andrew, did you read the discussion? Doesn't it suggest that on Ricochet, Tea Party folks and libertarians talk about these issues in a serious way and really try to think the issue through?
BERLINSKI > Narcotics Non-Anonymous