We were told the 2008 election was all about monumental, life-and-death questions regarding the future of the country. Did we want to be the kind of nation that sends prisoners to foreign lands to be tortured? Did we want to continue on the path of unilateral preemptive war? Did we want to keep ignoring climate change? Did we want to repair our image in the world and work with allies? Did we want to remain a domestically divided red-and-blue war zone or come together as pragmatic Americans to reaffirm our commitment to the founding fathers’ promise? We were told that if we collectively answered these questions wrong, there would be blood in the streets – a second civil war started by the minority of Americans who were fed up with the inequality, unilateralism, bellicosity, and division of today’s America.
And then, the great American unraveling was averted: Barack Obama enjoyed a deep and wide victory; and this was so because he answered history’s call, and pledged to lead America off the road to perdition and back onto the path of the righteous. And, we are told, because he will face such unprecedented crises, Americans will grant him unprecedented leeway and forgive his mistakes as he attempts to rebuild a once-great nation.
Charged with so monumental a task, Obama reached out admirably to the American people and asked them for guidance. What, he wanted to know, was the greatest public concern as America struggles on the precipice of extinction?
Will you consider legalizing marijuana so that the government can regulate it, tax it, put age limits on it, and create millions of new jobs and create a billion dollar industry right here in the U.S.?
That was the number one response to the Obama team’s website poll asking people to submit their top public policy questions for the new administration. And that’s not all. Over a dozen of the top-fifty questions had to do with legalizing drugs. Question 13, for example, shook things up a bit with this variation: “How will you fix the current war on drugs in America? and will there be any chance of decriminalizing marijuana?”
If Obamamania was less about America’s role in the history of civilization and more about getting stoned legally, can we at least stop panicking about things so much?