Last week, El Paso’s City Council took an interesting stand on Federal drug policy.
The City Council had voted unanimously last week on a resolution originally drafted by the city’s Committee on Border Relations that expressed support for Juarez and called upon the federal government to take several steps to aid Juarez and Mexico.
Those steps included clamping down on gun-running and money-laundering; the controversy arose when O’Rourke amended a portion of the resolution calling for less focus on incarceration and more on rehabilitation to asking for an “honest open national debate on ending the prohibition on narcotics.”
There is, of course, a good deal of debate on whether what Robert Anton Wilson called “The War on Some Drugs” is a sensible policy or not; it’s one of those things that people disagree on, usually strongly. But this was a resolution, not something binding; its value lies in an indication that an official local government agency thinks that a particular policy position is important enough to make an official stance on it. We see this sort of thing happen all the time, ranging from nuclear energy to same-sex marriage to the war in Iraq: so it’s acceptable, right?
Only if you’re not a Texas Democrat. If you are, you have to threaten the City Council.
This letter is from US Representative Silvestre Reyes (Democrat), and this one is from El Paso’s Texas Representatives Joe Pickett (Democrat), Norma Chavez (Democrat), Chente Quintanilla (Democrat), Marisa Marquez (Democrat), and Joseph Moody (Democrat). The meat of the Reyes letter:
While this resolution is well-intentioned, I believe its passage would be counterproductive to our efforts to enact an ambitious legislative agenda at the federal level.
…and that of the five state Democrats:
There will be state agencies, state legislators and others in state government who will see this resolution as the city of El Paso supporting the legalization of drugs. Funding for local law enforcement efforts and other important programs to our community are likely being put in jeopardy, especially during a time when state resources are scarce.
Translation? Well, as the notorious right-wing hit site The Huffington Post put it, “The city of El Paso buckled to unusually explicit federal government pressure Tuesday and withdrew a call for a national debate on ending drug prohibition.” Or, as infamous neoconservative house organ Alternet noted, “Merely discussing alternatives to drug prohibition is enough to incite threats from state and federal legislators…”
The measure was already vetoed by El Paso Mayor John Cook (Democrat, although not officially); hence, the revisiting of the issue. The Democrats needed three votes to flip, and they got them, and the people who flipped weren’t shy about saying why:
“When you receive calls and you have both members of the state and federal level telling you that you might lose funding for projects that are of vital importance for El Paso then you know you have to stop and think,” he said.
If by “stop and think” one means “do as you’re bid,” of course.
PS: One last time: this is all Texas Democrats’ puppy. Dem-o-crats. Given the level of GOP dominance in Texas these days, that’s actually kind of impressive.