Last Thursday, three of the four candidates running for the Republican nomination in the 2nd Congressional District participated in a debate that was hosted by the University of Iowa’s Young Americans for Liberty group. The fourth candidate, Christopher Reed did not participate because he believes the group attacked him “for having conservative principles and a desire to defend this nation.”
One of the most interesting things to come out of this debate is where the other three candidates stand on drugs. All three said that they don’t use drugs, but only one candidate indicated that the federal government should continue to fight illegal drugs – Rob Gettemy.
The 2008 Republican nominee, Dr. Mariannette Miller-Meeks, said, “We need to have a dialog about for instance, about marijuana, alcohol, the drinking age. Are we trying to protect driving while intoxicated? I think we as nation we need to have that dialogue. We have not done that, just impose laws and create a massive infrastructure and bureaucracy to fight drugs.” She went on to say, ”I am not comfortable with legalizing the harder drugs, but for other classes of drugs we need to have a serious conversation and dialogue about that.”
Steve Rathje said, “The federal government has no jurisdiction whatsoever. I believe it reverts back to the 10th Amendment, and thus its up to each individual state as to how they handle this.”
Obviously there is a big difference between the three candidates who participated in the debate on this issue. I don’t think Miller-Meeks’ openness to legalize some drug will play well in the Republican primary, even in one of the most liberal congressional districts in the state.
Likewise, Rathje’s answer raises questions too. While evoking state’s 10th amendment rights is in vogue, but do we really want 50 different states having 50 totally different sets of laws when it comes to issues like drugs, abortion, and gay marriage?
Now, the other thing that jumped out at me was the progression of the three speakers in how they dealt with the answer.
Gettemy was first out of the blocks, answering a long-winded question in front of a tough audience. He stuck to his guns and gave an answer that he knew probably wouldn’t go over so well.
Miller-Meeks had more time to prepare her answer, and came up with the idea to legalize “lower forms” of controlled substances. By most estimates that could be seen trying to placate your audience.
Rathje, with the most time to prepare and certainly never to be outdone, went even further and basically offered up eliminating the DEA, ATF, ICE, FBI and the Border Patrol. But all those responsibilities would be shifted to the states, you see, because, well, he’s against drug use. There are big ramifications when candidates choose to play the 10th Amendment card. It is not something that should be tossed out there lightly just to gain the support of a particular group of voters.
So we see pretty clearly the distinction between these three on this issue. And it begs an important question: if you’re not willing to stand up to a bunch of college students and clearly state your principles, how on Earth can we expect you to stand up to the special interests in Washington, DC?
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