The liberal is out and the conservative is in! This tiny village in the southern Rocky Mountains that has been desperate to re-invent itself after Corporate America bent it over and fucked it just elected a new mayor bent on keeping out the one industry that might be able to shock the village awake. The village has been on life support for four years and the conservative, anti-drug Mayor-elect is bent on creating his own Stepford village of an America that barely even existed.
The cannabis industry in America can be analogized to a steam locomotive in the late 19th century barreling through the wild west of superstition and tradition leaving a civilized order in its wake. And the churches and anti-drug coalitions are the native Americans.
John Ortega‘s naïve attitude towards recreational drug use blinds him from the economic opportunities that the growing cannabis industry can offer the Village of Questa. Questa, like much of small-town America, remains in the grip of a religious influence that thrives off stoking fears of alternative methods and mindsets, changing demographics, and shifts in human migration in which anti-drug sentiments are rooted. Hopefully Mayor-elect Ortega will prioritize Questa’s economic needs over any personal apprehensions toward the cannabis plant. The Mayor-elect and the incoming Village Councilor will be sworn into their respective offices come April.
In a time of high-priced commodities, real estate, and just about everything else municipalities need any source of revenue onto which the they can get their greedy, capitalist claws if they are to fulfill a semblance of their duty to the public they serve. Regardless of whichever archaic, supposedly all-powerful entity you pray for, we all speak the language of financial exchanges. The fact is that cannabis can bring in money for many communities throughout small-town America struggling to survive in a global marketplace.
New Mexico is set to become the latest state to legalize cannabis for adult, recreational use next year in April and entrepreneurs are already gearing up for business. However, barriers continue to inhibit full economic exploitation of this incredibly versatile plant. One such entrepreneur in Questa, New Mexico, is being forced to relocate his proposed cannabis factory to neighboring Taos because his initial location is dependent on federal funding from the U.S. Economic Development Administration (E.D.A.) and cannot support a cannabis business. One would think that conservative-leaning politicos would jump on this as a classic example of excessive government regulations interfering with one’s entrepreneurial freedom. It would be a talking point with which I’m in agreement.
The legalization of cannabis in New Mexico pushed the duty of regulating legal cannabis onto individual municipalities in the state which I believe is congruent with the original concept for American democratic-republicanism. Regional “laboratories for democracy” may be the best way to ensure a sense of representation for different populations just as long as the over-arching national government presents a clear set of basic civil rights for lower governing bodies to follow. Federal cannabis prohibition defies this ideal by enforcing an authoritarian edict on regional governments.
The beginning of the twenty-first century has seen cannabis regulations slowly relax over the decades and Americans are now privy to a growing cannabis market across the nation. According to statistics from <www.flowhub.com>, the overall cannabis industry is worth approximately $61 billion, 68% of Americans are now in support of cannabis legalization, and 12% of Americans are “active cannabis users.” This super-majority support for cannabis legalization would be beneficial in a nation with a functioning democratic system. Alas, Americans are trapped within a psuedo-democracy corrupted by oligarchy.
It seems like most of the corporate media’s focus is on the dealings of the national government, the federal government. CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC provide 24-hour coverage on what is happening with various national politicians. It is too be expected since those organizations brand themselves as national news outlets but what about the states in which they are based? The state governments that those organizations operate under have more of an effect on them than the national government.
A key component of a democratic-republic is its federalist structure (a separation of powers). The Supremacy Clause of the United States Constitution give the national government ultimate authority in conflicting areas of interest between the national government and the state governments, but the state governments have their own authority within their own respective territories; the states can stand up to the national government in particular instances. Scholars of constitutionalism refer to American states as “laboratories of democracy” because elected officials in each state (and, by extension, their respective municipalities) can tailor their government to their particular populations.
I have yet to see a news program that focuses on the legislative processes of all the governments under which Americans live.
The year is now 2016 – an election year in the United States, one that has enormous potential for the future of American politics. The voter turnout this November will determine the nation’s next president and the field of contenders is crowded.
On the Democratic side of the arena, we have Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, and Martin O’Malley as the primary contenders. Hillary Clinton is a former US Senator, and a former US Secretary of State as well as the wife of (former) President Bill Clinton. Recently, Mrs. Clinton has addressed issues relating to social equality (equal rights between males and females, heterosexuals and homosexuals, etc.), economic reform, immigration reform, and national security (national security and immigration reform are looking to be ongoing topics of discussion throughout this election cycle). You can listen to Hillary Clinton discuss her economic vision for the nation in this recorded C-SPAN production here. Although Mrs. Clinton is currently leading her two opponents (according to RealClearPolitics), she has been labelled as a “flip-flopper by critics. A video compilation put together by The Guardian shows Mrs. Clinton juxtaposed between differing positions she has held on social issues and economic issues. Mrs. Clinton is also receiving her largest campaign donations from the financial industry (according to OpenSecrets), which raises questions about how she would implement economic reform. The former Secretary of State also has a history of hawkishness, often advocting for more militaristic measures in international conflicts such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and Ukraine (as catalogued by Abby Martin at RT). Hillary Clinton may be the best funded among the Democrats, but she may not be as “liberal” as her supporters may believe. In comparison, US Senator Bernie Sanders is on similar ground with Hillary Clinton (in terms of this election cycle) but extends his rhetoric much farthur. He identifies as a socialist and is constantly advocating for an expansion of our government’s social welfare programs, citing those of Europe as examples. While there may be an irrational fear among American capitalists against any kind of public policy that puts people over profits, Sanders breaks through that fear by appealing to Americans with an immense grassroots coalition (bypassing the corporate media gate keepers) and identifies socialist mechanisms already engrained in American culture. Policies such as Medicare, which provides healthcare for senior citizens in the United States, are working in European nations providing healthcare for every citizen as a basic commodity. Sanders also seems to have a more consistent history than his rival, Hillary Clinton, having been advocating on the side of union-backed, American jobs and against global militarism ever since he was elected mayor of Burlington, Vermont, in 1981.
“When Bernie Sanders, a self-declared socialist, served as mayor here in the 1980s, he often complained that the United States had its priorities wrong, that it should be diverting money from the military to domestic needs like housing and health care,” writes Katherine Seelye at The New York Times.
“Mr. Sanders, frugal by nature, set the tone. And together, they conducted the first audit of Burlington’s pension system in a quarter-century. They moved the city’s money into higher-yielding accounts. They raised fees for building permits and for utilities that dug up the city’s streets. And they ended the cronyism by which the city’s insurance contracts had been let, opening them to competitive bidding. Taken together, these moves saved the city hundreds of thousands of dollars (Seelye, The New York Times).
When Hillary Clinton’s militarist tendencies is compared to Bernie Sanders’ populism, it seems like an easy choice for me. The former governor of Maryland, Martin O’Malley, has not been able to distinguish himself from Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, so his campaign seems kind of pointless to me. I think this upcoming primary election between Clinton and Sanders will be a metaphorical fight over the soul of the Democratic Party. As a nation, do we want to continue policies that follow corporate agendas that fuel the military industrial complex, or do we want to draw inspiration from the Rooseveltian progressives and create a more altruistic culture where the lower-classes are given what they earn as the backbone of the economy?