Former Rhode Island Congressman Patrick Kennedy has taken a stand against the decriminalization of marijuana. The same guy who "took too many pills", so to speak, has a growing fear of "reefer madness" in the Ocean State and throughout the nation. From "Chappaquiddick" to "Smoking-joints-ain't-chic", the "Ted Kennedy -- Pat Kennedy" double-standard double-takes are funny, sad, and just plain scary all in one throw. That any political dynasty gets away with such crass, two-faced grandstanding should be enough for Rhode Island voters to rethink one-party Democratic rule in Providence.
If liberals in the North East keeping pushing this perverse line of "nanny-state" micromanaging any further, then they may hand off to Northeastern Republican parties a potential wedge issue in future elections. The New England GOP can adopt libertarian defederalization and make the "stick-in-the-mud" Democrats look like out-of-touch, welfare-state reactionaries, which they are. Already, Rhode Island voters should blame the 3-to-1 Democratic political elite hegemony for the pension crisis buffeting the state. They also ought to give the "slightly more limited government" Republicans a shot at leadership. A plurality of voters elected Independent Governor Lincoln Chafee. Rhode Island voters ought to help Chafee out with a little more of the Republican opposition in your statehouse.
Decriminalization already has a slight precedent. Colorado and Washington State have decriminalized the recreational use of marijuana. Republican US Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky has pressed for defederalization of marijuana and other controlled substances. He has also signaled that the Republican Party needs to advance more libertarian candidates at the federal level in order to take in the West Coast and the North East in future Presidential elections. Even Conservative columnist Jonah Goldberg has argued that advocacy for "Big Government" at the state level or the city level would permit the National GOP to wage war against the Obama Welfare-warfare state without stepping on the toes of more liberal constituencies, like the New England states.
Rhode Island GOP: the grass (and the grassroots) await you. Take a lead on decriminalizing, or better yet "defederalizing" controlled substances to the state level. Instead of the failed yet overly bailed DEA taking stock of who smokes what, leet every state decide and enforce the criminalization of controlled substances.
If New England conservative William F. Buckley endorsed decriminalization, if former California Congressman David Dreier suggest that this country rethink the drug laws, if even former RINO Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger was willing to discuss the issue, then the Rhode Island Republicans should take the lead on pushing this policy statewide and nationwide. Rekindle among your ranks the complaisant tolerance of your founder Roger Williams. Lighten up and tell the people that they can "light up" without fear of incarceration or ostracization.
Perhaps the decriminalization of controlled substances will keep former Congressman Patrick Kennedy calm and quiet, out of jail as well as away from the private lives of Rhode Island voters. Better yet, this stirring issue could fire up the Rhode Island GOP and bring back two-party conflict and compromise to a state which for too long has teetered under unchecked Democratic mismanagement.