What do San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson share in common? They are three mayors who are speaking out forcefully against the failed, racist drug war.
Last week Mayor Newsom gave a passionate interview about the need to end the war on drugs (link to #1 below). Newsom proclaimed the nation's war on drugs a total failure and insisted the crime rate would go down if the government spent money on treatment as opposed to jailing people with drug problems. The mayor maintained that local jails are overcrowded with people incarcerated on drug charges. He also criticized elected officials, including Democrats who know the drug war is a joke, but are too cowardly to say so because of their fear of being "soft on crime".
Booker showed courage and wisdom when he slammed the failed drug war in an op-ed in the Newark Star Ledger in July.
Anderson has shown leadership in Salt Lake City on this issue for years. In June, Mayor Anderson introduced a resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors calling for a "new bottom line" in drug policy that concentrates more fully on reducing the negative consequences associated with drug abuse, while ensuring that our policies do not exacerbate these problems or create new social problems of their own. The resolution, which was passed, states that the drug war costs $40 billion annually but has not cut drug use or demand. It slams the Office of National Drug Control Policy's (ONDCP) drug-prevention programs -- specifically, the agency's national anti-drug media campaign -- as "costly and ineffective," but called drug treatment cost-effective and a major contributor to public safety because it prevents criminal behavior.
Voters are craving elected officials who are courageous and principled enough to speak out against a failing war, whether it is in Iraq or here at home.