The Dead Dogma of Trans Rights Advocates

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Living on a campus where the student body is always brimming with ludicrous outrage, a second-year student should be resigned to the fact of life that a protest is never far away. In recent weeks, the American University (AU) populace has focused its white-hot spotlight of rage onto Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) and its upcoming spring speaker, Milo Yiannopoulos.

For the purposes of full disclosure, it’s important for my reader to note that I serve as Treasurer for the YAL chapter here at AU, and I was a part of the decision-making process that led to Yiannopoulos’s speaking arrangement. I’m writing of my own accord and my views do not necessarily reflect those of any other members of the executive board, or YAL as a whole.

Much of the controversy surrounding Yiannopoulos revolves around his various statements concerning the transgender community. He recently penned an article entitled, “I Am So Done With The Trans Outrage Brigade: Why I’m Supporting ‘Drop The T’” and included some admittedly inflammatory statements such as, “If you ask me, when a guy says he needs to cut part of himself off for the world to make sense, we should start with his head.”

Understandably, this has generated a lot of anger from the trans community at AU. They have used this sentence to justify banning Yiannopoulos from appearing on campus, in that he is an advocate for violence against trans people. However, not more than a couple sentences later, Yiannopoulos explains, “I say all this in language designed to provoke the self-appointed arbiters of speech.” The politically correct student base obliged and played right into his hands.

Yiannopoulos does not advocate for violence any more than any person who has hyperbolically said, “I’m gonna kill you” in an argument. The Left’s focus on the extreme nature of his language represents a clear attempt to dismiss him without having to address some of the real arguments he makes. This is a disturbingly popular trend within the community at AU, and is most common when transgenderism is injected into an argument.

One of the most common arguments I have heard when trans people are discussed is that any skepticism directed towards trans people is transphobic and that, as a cisgender person, I cannot possibly understand anything about the decisions trans people make and the issues they face. Any intermediate school debater will notice that this is not, in fact, an argument, but a line of attack.

Even to the most well read Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies (WGSS) major, is it really so incredible to believe that some people might be confused about these theories? They are proposing that sex and gender are completely different and that people can be biologically male, but identify as a female. They also propose that gender is not a question of male or female, but a nebulous cloud, or spectrum, of various options. However, trans advocates will meet skepticism with epithets despite the obvious outlandish nature of the claims.

If I were to ask a trans rights advocate what it meant to “identify” as a woman, and I have numerous times before, I would be met with the claim that I should not deny the experiences of trans people, just because I do not understand them. They will ignore the obvious irony that my question was, in fact, to try and better understand the experience. This is a fairly basic question at the heart of all this, and I have not once received a direct, specific answer.

Another question that should be fairly basic for trans advocates is that if gender is not a binary construct, then what are the other options, and what does it mean to identify as a non-binary option? Again, I will be told that I am narrow-minded for thinking in binaries, without, of course, any concrete argument as to why binaries are inherently wrong. Even if I wanted to think outside of the binary, I have not been given any semblance of a justification for doing otherwise. Claiming that binaries are bad does not answer a single question about why that is so, and conveniently cloaks a fundamental lack of logic.

The trans advocates on this campus have risen to the epitome of arrogance with their tactics. Their refusal to directly address the claims of their political opponents echoes the warning that English philosopher John Stuart Mill issued in his book, On Liberty, where he proclaims that refusing to hear out a “devil’s advocate” is to mistake one’s personal certainty for absolute certainty. This is arrogance in its purest form.

However, the social tyranny stretches beyond mere dismissal. Not only is not believing what trans advocates believe incorrect and bigoted, it is also, in their minds, akin to promoting violence. They say that standing idly by to allow people like Yiannopoulos to express his opinion is to condone the murder of trans individuals. Opponents of trans rights advocates cannot merely be wrong. They have to be accomplices to murder. Otherwise, trans advocates would have to address the arguments point by point, and they know they simply cannot do it.

Let’s say, however, for the sake of argument (because America is built on dialogue and argument) that there may be some merit to this argument that trans skeptics condone murder. After all, there were a record number of trans people murdered in 2015. How many, you might ask? Twenty-one. For perspective, more people were killed by being bitten by ants, and over twenty times as many people dies from rolling out of bed. There is simply no epidemic of trans murders, and the assertion is both ridiculous and lazy.

The assertion, unfortunately, was furthered by the presence of a group called Dark Matter on campus a few short weeks ago. They are a South Asian transgender duo of poets, and they made much the same claim in their performance. They also ridiculed the white, cisgender community for “stealing the gay movement from non conforming Black and Brown people.” They also asked that people interested in being allies to their cause “get the hell out of their way.”

The arrogance to think you solely own a movement, unrelated to race, because of your race rivals that of claiming dissidence is complicity in murder. However, no one publicly took issue with their arrival out of fear of being labeled any number of bigoted terms by the leftist thought police that set up the event. Their sentiment also echoes some of Yiannopoulos’s claims that the transgender community is attempting to phase out members it does not deem fit from their movement, (as Yiannopoulos is a gay man) and is why he advocated “dropping the T” from the LGBT acronym. Dark Matter continued their arrogant tirade by asking, “What the hell are you going to do to fight to make sure that trans people are no longer murdered?” While, the truth is, there is not much anyone can do, because they’re not actually being murdered very much at all. These claims that that they fear constantly for their safety are utterly ridiculous and meant to intimidate others from voicing opposition.

An aside, once again, for full disclosure: I am currently romantically involved with the author of the article I hyperlinked concerning Dark Matter’s performance at AU.

The suggestion that trans people may suffer from some sort of mental illness is met with the same vitriolic attitudes. The argument I have heard most commonly is that transgenderism is real, because these people kill themselves because they aren’t accepted for who they truly are and it is not because of a mental illness, but because of a deeply held identity. To be frank, regardless of whether or not the suggestion of mental illness has any merit, to offer mass suicide as proof that mental illness is not in play would be laughed out of almost any other discussion on mental illness.

The Leftists who like to claim they are the side of science rebuff renowned psychiatrists like Dr. Paul R. McHugh, the former psychiatrist-in-chief at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and Dr. Joseph Berger, a life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association, who both suggest that trans people suffer from a form of mental illness and are removed, in part, from reality. I suppose, though, that they too must be transphobic, and must not know anything about psychiatry. Again, regardless of the merits of the claim, there is a substantive discussion to be had, that trans rights advocates don’t want to have.

Trans advocates turn their hatred not only to the cisgender community, but to members of their own movement as well. I have heard various assertions that Caitlyn Jenner (formerly Bruce Jenner) has internalized transphobia for her endorsement of Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) in the presidential race. The same claims have been made about Yiannopoulos, that he must be internally homophobic to believe what he does as a gay man.

I am hard pressed to think of anything more conceited than believing that anyone who disagrees with your perspective must hate themselves inside. Of course, if you confront the Left and challenge their claim on principle, and ask them about members of the Jewish community who support Boycott, Divestment, and Sanction measures against Israel, the Left will rail against you. They will put down your experience and hastily, lazily, and incorrectly redefine Zionism to fit their narrative, even though it conflicts with the principle of their previous arguments.

The argument over Israel and Palestine is one better left for another time, but it illustrates a key point that has been demonstrated throughout this article. Trans advocates have no principles. Their attacks drip with arrogance and are caked with vitriol. When they do try to make an argument, they often lack substance and will quickly and undoubtedly resort to personal attacks to divert from the real point.

As absolutely miserable as it has been trying to deal with all this butchering of civilized debate and free speech, I am oddly okay with this. As Mill warns in On Liberty, a point must be held up for debate or “it will be held as a dead dogma, not a living truth.” The repeated attempts to dodge discussion on this issue will render the Left’s position worthless, if it has not already, and I very much look forward to that day, so I can focus on more important issues like the future of our economy or the prospect of a nuclear Iran.

However, in the interest of civility and dialogue, I invite each and every reader who has hated everything I have had to say to this point to come to hear Yiannopoulos speak on April 21st when he comes to campus. Don’t try to drown him out with screams or fake blood. Listen, and come prepared with substantive, challenging questions to preserve the continued discussion of this issue you apparently hold so dearly. Only then, will you have proven me wrong.

 

 

The author can be contacted by email at ds1383a@student.american.edu and for comments related directly to this article, please title the subject line, “Milo Article”.

The Real Winners and Losers in the Debates

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A lot of mention has been made of late as to who is benefitting the most from their debate performances, and who is damaged irreparably. Amidst the entertainment of the fiasco that has been the debate cycle, in both parties, there are unseen winners and losers.

 

The Loser: US Foreign Policy

 

Despite the increasingly dire threats facing the United States abroad, a growing refugee crisis and the backlash from the horrific terrorist attacks in Paris, foreign policy largely sits on the backburner. Yes, the rhetoric surrounding taking the fight has been intense and widespread amongst most of the candidates. However, this is all that presently exists, and the American voter seems to be far more interested in the smoothest talker, and not the most qualified Commander in Chief.

As each day of the campaign drags on, likely primary voters appear to draw their motives from public issue statements, rather than any meaningful record of accomplishments. The polls are reflecting this. The candidates gaining both the most traction and media attention have very little, if any, foreign policy prowess on which they can draw to justify becoming the next Commander in Chief of the armed forces during this incredibly crucial time.

Republicans Donald Trump and Ben Carson, the two undeniable leaders in almost every recent poll, have nearly zero experience in any political field. Trump touts his negotiating experience as a point of pride for his foreign policy credentials. His outlandish, macho talking points have allowed him to soar in the polls despite lacking versed stances on any events in which a foreign entity, like ISIS, would have no interest or reason to negotiate. Then, of course, there is Carson, who has publicly admitted he is actively studying foreign policy on the campaign trail and has struggled to fend off reports that members inside his campaign “coach” him on foreign policy basics.

After the steep polling drop-off from the two distinct frontrunners, we have the class of three young senators: Marco Rubio (R-FL), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Rand Paul (R-KY). These senators have gained a lot of influence within the party, especially within the younger demographic the GOP desperately needs to reach. But, what does it mean for foreign policy?

Senator Rubio has laid out a strong, clear plan for strengthening the military and re-establishing American influence abroad. However, his attendance record in the Senate has been increasingly, and perhaps justifiably, called into question. Could President Rubio adequately handle international relations as president when he couldn’t dedicate time to hash out these issues as a Senator? There’s also the fact that Rubio attacked Senator John McCain (R-AZ) for “knowing nothing about enhanced interrogation.” Senator McCain was a prisoner of war in Viet Nam and lost most of the function in his arms due to the torture he endured there.

Senator Cruz largely joins Rubio in advocating for a strong national defense. Cruz’s vision, if implemented, would be a large benefit to the United States’ standing in the world. However, he has stated he would use overwhelming force to achieve American objectives, but not dedicate resources to “nation build” in the aftermath. This threatens to cause even more instability in some of the most volatile regions of the world and reflects the issue with inexperienced leadership.

There is always the interesting case of discussing foreign policy with the Paul family. Senator Paul, as well as his father, former presidential candidate Ron Paul, blames American involvement in foreign affairs for many of the world’s problems. Paul’s non-interventionist vision also threatens to harm American integrity abroad and threatens our relationship with Israel by sacrificing the ability for the United States to influence global decisions.

No discussion of US foreign policy would be complete, however, without the mention of the name Bush. President George W’s little brother, former Florida Governor, Jeb Bush, is trying to take over in a world that has largely rejected the Bush doctrine of foreign policy. This has also been harmed by Jeb’s unwillingness to reject his brother’s shortcomings and his fumbling many questions on the subject.

The rising tide of candidates, who have very poor foreign policy credentials, has only been compounded by the debate process marginalizing or eliminating the best candidates this cycle has to offer in terms of foreign policy. And, no, despite being Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton (D-NY) does not fall into this group. Her lack of notable accomplishments in that role and the fact that foreign relations failed to improve during her time there keeps her out of that upper echelon.

Conversely, despite his vast experience, former Governor of Virginia, Jim Gilmore, never had a shot in this race. What chances he had were eliminated by being excluded from all but one of the debate thus far. However, Gilmore logged years of service in the Army in West Germany in the 1970s, and was a former counterintelligence agent. He also has run or founded various councils within the Department of Homeland Security dedicated to security policy. His governorship of Virginia also coincided with the attacks of 9/11, which hit the Pentagon, in Arlington, VA. Unfortunately, this process blocks voters from access to his knowledge and experience.

Governor Rick Perry (R-TX) also has military experience in the Air Force and was the longest-serving governor in Texas history. He created millions of jobs in a huge economy, and has experience dealing with external competition. He’s also had experience dealing with the immigration crisis at the Texas border, which he deployed the Texas National Guard to combat. His campaign had huge support within the armed service community, but, after being relegated to the lower tier debate, he never caught momentum.

Another Senator who receives fairly little mention in this process is Lindsey Graham (R-SC). He also served in the Air Force and logged over 20 years of military service. He now serves on the Armed Services Committee in the Senate and has been endorsed by the aforementioned Senator McCain. Graham, due to low coverage and polling, has never made the top tier debates and was excluded altogether from the most recent one.

Finally, perhaps the most qualified Commander in Chief of all the candidates does not come from the Republican pool at all. Former Senator Jim Webb (D-VA) was a decorated Viet Nam War veteran, including two Purple Hearts and a Bronze Star. He served as Assistant Secretary of Defense and Secretary of the Navy under the Reagan administration. Webb has further articulated clear knowledge of foreign policy and had a strong record of accomplishments during his term in the Senate. However, he received paltry speaking time in the only Democratic debate before he dropped out.

 

Winner: Vladimir Putin

 

The way this process has, thus far, marginalized legitimate foreign policy perspectives has paved the way for Vladimir Putin’s full ascension into the position of most powerful man in the world.

Putin has helped re-establish Russia as a dominant world force and has been ardent in his fighting of ISIS and radical Islamic forces in the Middle East. The Obama administration’s reluctance to take an active role has allowed Putin to maximize his influence.

The United States has helped embolden Russian leaders by pushing NATO right up to the Russian borders during the Bill Clinton administration. There is nothing wrong with NATO expansion, and given the time, it was a useful tool to deter future Russian aggression into former Soviet bloc states. It was used again by President Bush (43) to add the Baltic states to the alliance.

However, during these administrations, America displayed an active foreign policy, and projected strength. Therefore, these NATO expansions can be seen as strategic moves to maintain global influence. On the other hand, if America projects weakness, and retreats in influence, an advocacy for NATO expansion can be seen as nothing other than a symbolic move and unnecessarily antagonistic towards Russia.

Putin has seen this American weakness in policies like Hillary’s “reset” during her time as Secretary of State, where she initiated a unilateral easing of tensions and relaxing of US policy towards Russia, in hopes of making deals with then-President Dmitri Medvedev. It only projected weakness and galvanized Russian ambitions.

Now, Putin assumes a vast amount of influence on the world stage and the only credible threat to that unilateral influence would be a strong American leader. Symbolic moves like the expansion of NATO without any strategic objectives in mind, only projects weakness, and also gives Putin a rationalization for more rash actions that he knows the US would not be willing to back up.

Despite various assertions, Vladimir Putin is not an unreasonable or evil man. He has been both inspired and encouraged by reckless assertions on the part of US leaders and by their lack of strength when it comes to pressing international issues. He is an international actor responding to changing international conditions in order to increase his influence and leverage globally.

This makes him an undeniable threat to American influence abroad, and to America itself. We need a strong national leader to take on Putin’s advances head-on.

The dearth of credible Commanders in Chief in our presidential race and the rhetoric that has been spewed during this cycle will score as a victory for Putin who will continue to increase Russian influence while he takes on ISIS and threatens territorial expansion. He will receive no backlash from a United States that seems content to elect a leader who cannot adequately challenge his advances or be respected in an international context.

A Real House of Cards

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In the past few years, many Americans have been gripped by the hit Netflix series, House of Cards, the story of the corrupt House Majority Whip, Francis Underwood who exacts vengeance on his political adversaries standing in his way to higher power.

Lately, the story of another Majority Whip moving up the political ladder permeates through news feeds across America. That would be the story of former Majority Whip, Kevin McCarthy (R-CA). McCarthy rose from his role as Whip to Majority Leader after the unprecedented primary defeat of sitting Leader at the time, Eric Cantor (R-VA). McCarthy recently seemed destined to be Speaker of the House after Speaker John Boehner’s (R-OH) resignation announcement.

However, in the midst of this rapid ascendancy, McCarthy ran into a problem that had plagued Boehner in recent years. This was the resilience of more ardent conservative groups within the House, namely, the House Freedom Caucus. The Caucus felt Boehner was not adequately conservative, nor was he willing enough to block President Barack Obama’s executive actions. The Caucus attempted to oust Boehner from his role in the last Speaker elections and failed.

After Boehner’s resignation, the Freedom Caucus effectively blocked McCarthy’s path to the speakership by unifying and demanding effective conservative leadership. After this great conservative victory, talks have drifted towards the election of Representative, and former Republican Vice Presidential candidate, Paul Ryan (R-WI) as the new Speaker. A Ryan speakership would undermine all progress the Freedom Caucus has made in the House and threaten the legitimacy of conservative movements throughout America.

Ryan was once thought of as a conservative voice in the Republican Party, however his recent record suggests he is firmly in line with establishment types like Boehner and McCarthy that House conservatives have tried to prevent. He went left on immigration, and compromised on a budget deal in negotiations with Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) that fell far short of any meaningful spending cuts. He also rebuffed the Tea Party time and time again in his memoir, The Way Forward, criticizing its strategy.

Ryan now says he will be open to a run for Speaker, so long as the entire Republican caucus in the House can unite behind him. This is rather ironic, given how he’s abandoned his support for the Tea Party and has not been willing to embrace their vision for combatting Barack Obama’s policies. Paul Ryan desires the support of his entire party, but will not lend its members the same respect. Ryan cannot unite this legislature now.

Rejecting Ryan’s aspirations for Speaker are also important for staunch House conservatives in the influential House Freedom Caucus, as well as the Republican Study Committee (another conservative caucus). Taking down Boehner as Speaker has been one of the most highlighted agenda points of these two groups for years now. They have done that, and now prevented McCarthy, another establishment leader, from replacing him. With the rise in anti-establishment sentiment evident by the successes of presidential candidates like Donald Trump and Ben Carson in recent polls, this is the ideal time for these groups to stand strong and demand a true conservative Speaker.

If these groups bend to the will of the establishment and believe that Paul Ryan truly is the unifier the Republican Party needs, then it will confirm in the minds of many Americans that the conservative wing of the Republican Party is, in fact, only an apparatus to obstruct any sort of meaningful progress in the legislature. Many in the conservative movement have rejected this image. However, given the current political climate, and the successes against Boehner and McCarthy, it may be impossible to refute if Ryan is allowed to become Speaker.

The yearnings for a Ryan Speakership are not due to lack of options emanating from the conservative wing of the House. Representatives Jeb Hensarling (R-TX), Bill Flores (R-TX), Lynn Westmoreland (R-GA), and Jason Chaffetz (R-UT) have all floated their names out there as potential candidates and all have received ratings of 78% or above from the conservative think tank, Heritage Action on their voting records, well above the House Republican average. The conservatives could reasonably unite behind any one of these candidates to ensure the next Speaker will actually defend conservative interests.

Unfortunately, the idea that the conservative caucus cannot drive the agenda has permeated too far within the Congress. If the Freedom Caucus and its allies accept a Ryan Speakership and view the fact that neither Boehner, nor McCarthy will be the next leader of the Congress as a sufficient victory, then the aforementioned perception is correct and the accusations that House conservatives are only an obstructive force will be justified with flying colors.

This year is unique, politically, for so many reasons. The foremost of which is the rise of the anti-establishment politicians. House conservatives have this unique opportunity to right the wrongs the establishment has allowed in Congress to this point. With this majority, the House should have harnessed the power of the purse to prevent the implementation of Obamacare, the unconstitutional executive amnesty that President Obama has pushed on the nation, and should have been able to defund a grossly mismanaged organization receiving federal funds in Planned Parenthood (regardless of whether or not they profit from the sale of fetal tissue). However, this has not been the case with Speaker Boehner thus far. The time has come to make a change that has been a long time coming. The fate of the conservative movement sits in the House, and, if it is allowed to fail, the house of cards will fall and the legitimacy of conservatives in all offices will fall with it.

Author’s Note: I previously published an article documenting the need to remove Speaker Boehner, as well as Senate Majority Leader, Mitch McConnell from their posts in April, and detailed their failures as legislators. That article can be found here: https://aucrsblog.com/2015/04/15/donkeys-in-elephants-clothing/

Battle of the Blogs: Marijuana

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Today, American politics is a disdainful struggle between increasingly polarized partisanship. Since many of us American University students are aspiring public servants, we’ll wield future influence over the solutions to our great nation’s problems. We must look not only to represent our best interests, but to reach across the aisle, build consensus, and ensure that substantive progress results from our political endeavors. To exemplify consensus building, the respective blogs representing AU College Democrats and AU College Republicans are collaborating to tackle controversial issues. This piece represents the Republican opinion on the pressing issue of legalized marijuana; its sister-piece represents the Democrat opinion. Although both pieces display contrasting opinions, the articles collectively forge an impactful and reasonable agreement. The AU College Republicans urge our viewers to also read the supplementary Democrat article, which is linked below this paragraph. Please enjoy.

My Democratic counterpart, Quinn Dunlea’s article: http://www.aucollegedems.org/battle-of-the-blogs-marijuana/

Among the many controversies that surrounded the presidency of Richard Milhous Nixon, one was the declaration that drug addiction was “public enemy number one.” President Nixon followed this declaration with a call for dedication of federal resources to the prevention of drug addiction and the rehabilitation of addicts. This began what has now evolved into what we call “The War on Drugs.”

The Republican Party has long advocated that marijuana (also affectionately referred to as “pot”), should it become widely legalized, would be a detriment to our society. It is widely viewed, within the GOP, that marijuana legalization would integrate pot within the American culture, and that the crime, degeneracy and medical repercussions that are associated with the drug would, no doubt, accompany it. This is largely why the party maintains that marijuana is an integral part of Nixon’s “War on Drugs.”

The medical effects of marijuana have been widely understated by pro-legalization advocates and by the media in general. Many will point to the fact that the effects of marijuana usage are miniscule in the face of the effects of legal substances like alcohol and tobacco. Additionally, the media will largely portray pot users as easy-going groovy people. However, marijuana does have a dark, not-so-groovy side. Dr. Drew Pinsky, an addiction specialist has said that between alcohol, cocaine and marijuana, it is the marijuana that is by far the most addictive substance of the three. Pinsky also points out that of the 7.3 million people aged 12 or older that had a classified drug dependence, 4.2 million of these were addicted to marijuana. The fear, justifiably so, is that the more readily available marijuana becomes, the larger that addiction problem will become.

With regards to the comparison to alcohol and tobacco, marijuana presents many drawbacks without any of the benefits that the first two substances offer. Tobacco has been a part of the US economy since our founding and provides a wide range of economic benefits for the nation. Alcohol has been prohibited in the past and the Prohibition era did little to nothing to curb alcohol use and abuse and deprived the American government of the benefits that go along with the alcohol industries. Both substances, granted, are awful for the human body for many reasons. However, marijuana, studies show, affects the brain and mind more than tobacco. In fact, a Northwestern University study finds that repeated marijuana usage can lead to schizophrenia and permanent damage to IQ. Not to mention, the effects marijuana could have should a user get behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.

Many pro-legalization advocates will point to the potential decrease in crime that would accompany the legalization of marijuana. However, in Netherlands, more specifically Amsterdam, where marijuana is legalized, this has not been the case. Amsterdam recently had to ban marijuana usage on school grounds, as it became a widespread problem where kids were showing up to school unable to function. Marijuana is illegal, yet widely available in Netherlands, but in Amsterdam, where it is legal, problems continue to arise. Many coffee shops in Amsterdam have had to become private, member-only shops as the use of the shops as distribution sites have led to increased crime in those areas. Marijuana is not, in fact, decreasing crime, or improving the culture in any way, shape, or form, and the Amsterdam example highlights how marijuana can undercut businesses and harm society in ways that alcohol and tobacco cannot.

However, as with many things in the Republican Party these days, there is a growing rift on stances regarding marijuana legalization. There is an augmenting faction, spearheaded most prominently by Senator and presidential candidate Rand Paul (R-KY), who advocates that the question of marijuana legalization should be left to the states to decide. In fact, Senator Paul, along with Senator Corey Booker (D-NJ) introduced a bipartisan bill that would declassify marijuana to a schedule 2 drug, instead of schedule 3, and remove federal medical marijuana bans.

This has led to a larger discussion on the Constitution. Those who fall into Rand Paul’s line of thinking will point to the 10th Amendment which states that any power not given to the federal government in the Constitution is given to the state governments, and given that marijuana is not addressed in the Constitution, it is unconstitutional for the federal government to ban marijuana.

The other side of the argument will point to the Constitution’s granting of the right to regulate interstate commerce to the federal government as an indication that the federal government does, in fact, have jurisdiction over marijuana, as it is likely marijuana will be bought and sold across state lines, ultimately affecting the economy. Also, given that marijuana is banned federally, it is argued that federal law takes precedence over state laws regardless. These points were addressed in the Supreme Court case, Raich v. Gonzales, where the court ruled with the federal government’s right to regulate marijuana.

However, given the current tensions that surround marijuana and the overarching concern about the overreach of the federal government, there is a legitimate case for a compromise on the issue. To appease those who call for legalization or decriminalization, it would largely make sense to decriminalize marijuana federally (not legalize). From there, a solution where the federal government cedes jurisdiction and enforcement of marijuana laws to the states makes sense. In this scenario, the federal government, to ease the fears of those who say marijuana could destroy the culture, would impose a mandatory minimum fine or community service requirement that is steep enough to act as a sufficient deterrent. The federal government would then leave all additional sanctions to the separate states. Lastly, the federal government would allow for marijuana use medicinally, given that a state allows medical marijuana, and that at least two different medical doctors confirm patients who could benefit from the drug medicinally. Overall, progress regarding some aspects of marijuana may be in the best interests both parties.

Donkeys in Elephants’ Clothing

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Senate Minority Leader, Harry Reid’s (D-NV), impending retirement brings much excitement for Republicans in Congress. One of the biggest obstacles to the Republican agenda will soon be removed. While this may, for the short term, be a victory for the GOP, the celebration should be tempered, as there are two larger, more obstructive figureheads that stand in the way of the Republican policy agenda, and they come from within.

The 2014 midterm elections that gave Republicans control of the Senate and made Mitch McConnell (R-KY) Senate Majority Leader, Reid’s previous post, are very similar to the 2010 elections that brought John Boehner (R-OH) into his role as Speaker of the House. Both elections were massive rejections of President Barack Obama’s policies and a call to Republican congressional leaders to defend the Constitution and stop Obama’s Executive overreach. However, McConnell and Boehner have not only fallen short in their pursuit of these objectives, they have often stood in the way of these pursuits.

If one were to take a step back and view only the recent major policy measures in Congress, it would be very difficult to tell that the Democrats are not, in fact, still in charge of the legislative branch. It began with the recent omnibus-spending bill that passed Congress in December. Boehner, along with the support of Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden, as well as fifty-seven House Democrats passed this bill that permits the Obama administration to fund Obamacare, along with the executive amnesty that will grant legal status to about five million illegal immigrants. It continued again with Boehner’s efforts to shepherd through the DHS funding bill in March that again granted the administration funding for its agenda.

What is particularly upsetting about Boehner’s most recent cave to the Democrats with the DHS funding is how it originated. The House, at first, rejected this bill after it passed McConnell’s Senate. However, Boehner would go out of his way and take advantage of a rarely used House procedural rule to reverse the House’s previous decision that denied funding to the Department of Homeland Security and Obama’s amnesty. Boehner joined with seventy-four other Republicans along with unanimous Democrat support to allow the funding bill to pass.

Actions such as these have come to define Boehner’s relationship with conservatives in Congress. Boehner’s unwillingness to fight tooth and nail against Obama’s policy agenda coupled with his willingness to join forces with every Democrat in Congress led to a legitimate challenge to his role as Speaker earlier this year. He narrowly gained the majority he needed despite the opposition of twenty-five Republicans, the largest amount of opposition within a party’s Speaker vote in over one hundred years.

The number of congressmen who oppose the Speaker’s approach may, in fact, be larger than the twenty-five that voted against him. Congressman Tim Huelskamp (R-KS), a noted critic of the Speaker, as well as the head of the Tea Party Caucus in Congress and one of the twenty-five who stood up to Boehner attributes the low number to intimidation. He said, “If you are found to be voting against the speaker, you don’t get the chairmanship you thought you were going to get, you don’t get to move up, your bill doesn’t get heard on the floor.”

Boehner’s recent actions seem to show quite clearly that Congressman Huelskamp is correct in his assessment of the Speaker. Representative Daniel Webster (R-FL), along with Rich Nugent (R-FL), were removed from the highly influential House Rules Committee after voting against Boehner. Additionally, Randy Weber (R-TX) had his name removed as a co-sponsor of legislation recently after casting his vote against Boehner. Also, Boehner canceled Representative Steve King’s (R-IA) trip to Egypt to meet with Egyptian President al-Sisi. An anonymous source close to the Speaker was quoted as saying, “Those rewards aren’t going to be handed out to members who oppose the broader GOP team on a regular basis.”

In other words: If you oppose the Speaker, you will get marginalized.

For readers wondering where McConnell plays into all of this, the Senate has punted time and again on the same legislation that would put a stop to Barack Obama’s policies. To be fair, Senator McConnell has only been in the majority for a couple of months and has not had as much time as Boehner to build as impressive a resume when it comes to opposing conservative policy initiatives.

However, McConnell certainly does his best to undermine strong-minded conservatives when he can. McConnell constantly badmouths lawmakers who are willing to take drastic measures to defeat the Obama agenda, namely, Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). McConnell, at a recent dinner in Washington, talked about how Ted Cruz would throw himself in front of a train to stop Obamacare in its tracks, then adding, “That idea has some merit to it.”

Boehner and McConnell established that their tenure in the Republican leadership is not dedicated to stopping Obama’s executive overreach. In fact, Boehner and McConnell’s leadership is the epitome of career politicians everywhere: seizing power, neglecting their campaign promises, and using it to maintain power through mushy modesty.

This strategy did not work out well for former House Majority Leader, Eric Cantor (R-VA), whose constituents historically jettisoned him out of office in a primary election, instead choosing Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA), one of the twenty-five opponents to Boehner in the Speaker election.

The time has come for the Republican Party to relegate people like Boehner and McConnell, who use their position to not only refuse to fulfill their promise to stifle the Obama agenda, but also to smother any bold politician with the will to actually do so, to roles like the one Cantor now plays. It is time to elevate promise-keepers like Congressman Brat, Congressman Huelskamp, and Senator Cruz into positions of power if the Republican Party is truly serious about defending the constitution and eliminating President Obama’s executive obtrusiveness.