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James Campion Headshot

Thanks for Next to Nothing

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Election Day Boondoggle -- Freedoms at a Premium

Those of us unimpressed with this ongoing myth that the United States of America promotes the pure tenets of freedom are to say the least lukewarm on these referendums passed in four states (Colorado, Washington, Maryland and Maine) last Tuesday to legally recognize same-sex marriage and decriminalize recreational use of marijuana. Are we supposed to burst into song and dance lauding the democratic spirit because four out of 50 states pulled a majority to allow civil rights and ration basic freedoms?

The public voting at the state level to grant equal treatment under the law and remove the consideration of prison for the consumption of a plant is a joke. I see less reason to cheer this pathetic crawl to liberty than to call it what it is: Nothing less than a patronization of constitutional law, doled out incrementally by the ballot in place of the inalienable rights we rush to celebrate.

A sadder display of freedom is hard to conjure.

This phony notion America has become any more progressive since Election Day is lip service to those of us who believe that slowly providing rights duly granted by the Constitution is patently insane. It is, as depicted in this space for over a decade now, an embarrassment. We should be ashamed to call ourselves free. Who are we kidding with this bullshit?

There was a lot of talk during the election season that religious freedoms are being threatened by the federal government, most of it stemming from the outlandish argument that if an organized religion runs colleges and hospitals, it is supposed to be treated as an extension of that religion's faith. But religious freedom is an absolute, protected by the first amendment to the constitution, granted not by vote, but by rights proffered and fought for during the American Revolution over 250 years ago.

The federal government does not dictate how a religion conducts its business inside the guise of religion; the pulpit, the synagogue, the mosque, the temple, church or ministry. But the federal government does deny Americans the right to smoke a joint and marry the person of their choice.

Why don't we put up for a vote whether organized religion should be allowed to function as a private non-taxable concern, which may still infuse its will (based not on fact or law or anything tangible, but on faith and belief) on the body politic. I say we vote on that. No? Why is that? Because it is a non-negotiable right.

So why are we happy that people are voting on other non-negotiable rights?

Just because those rights occasionally win?

Why are we voting on rights?

We have become so anesthetized to the atavistic, puritanical recoiling this nation has displayed in denying basic freedoms for eons that we celebrate like children when we're granted half-assed amnesty. Oh, thank you masters of a broken system for allowing us a glimmer of hope that our rights might be slowly realized at the whim of the public!

The paranoia citizens have about the public sector being absorbed into a state institution should begin not with the pocket book or moral outrage, but with the individual; as Thomas Paine imagined it, as Thomas Jefferson sermonized it, as the people formulated it, and the blood of the infantry sacrificed for it. When a free society ignores the rights of the individual, not just the public at large, then we are all in chains. No vote, no public outcry, no protest can make it so. Law makes it so. It is what separates us from the beast. And I say we are beasts when we ignore law, and then for some bizarre, inexplicable reason, we vote on this aberration.

This is not a reason to celebrate. It is a reason to throw up.

You know how I know this to be true? What if we vote on whether you can drink beer? How's that work for you? Or how about your son or daughter being denied the same rights as someone else's son or daughter based on eye color or height? You know why Dick Cheney, a man with an abject abhorrence of any liberal cause know to modern society, supports gay marriage? Because his daughter is gay, just like you'd support it if it were your daughter.

Without spending too much time on same-sex marriage, which has nothing to do with sex, homosexual or otherwise -- or marriage for that matter -- the audacity for a government to deny taxpaying citizens the right to legally join their fortunes is criminal. Period. This is another in a long line of silly omissions which litters our history that we will soon, maybe ten years, maybe twenty, laugh at; as we did when we denied women the vote, African Americans full and complete citizenship, interracial couples to marry, you name it.

The marijuana issue is not only flat-out asinine, but could greatly assist in the decreasing of the debt and the creation of jobs, not the least of which the crippled farming industry.

Hardly anyone in our mostly ill-informed voting public has an idea why marijuana is illegal in the first place, and this ignorance has led to the most costly, ineffectual war this country has ever waged: the War on Drugs.

Over the past four decades the U.S. has spent over one trillion dollars losing this completely futile battle, and for what? The hemp industry threatened the paper industry (timber and fiber) in the 1930s, so the Hearst papers and DuPont Corporation unleashed a smear campaign casting marijuana as a dangerous poison with no scientific proof?

During the years following this fabricated corporate power play our judicial and penal system has been ravaged by senseless incarcerations. The feeble FBI and bloated DEA are overwhelmed. Drug cartels, organized crime and mutants profit while pot is readily available to children.

The worst period of this nonsense occurred during the Reagan Administration's "Just Say No" head-in-the-sand stupidity. Since 1980, we've had three times as many citizens imprisoned per year on senseless drug possession charges than prior decades. Our prisons burst with ten-times the incarcerated as any of the world's richest countries. In 2010 alone, 1.6 million people were arrested on marijuana charges alone.

So excuse me if I'm not ecstatic over this dribble of sewage water being sold as champagne by a snickering media and joyous liberal commentators, who are so used to scraps they're apparently pleased the American people are being treated like preschoolers bargaining for an extra ten minutes of TV time before bed.