The same revolution that turned America into the world’s largest jailer!!

I was watching a speech given in Miami by Marco Rubio the other day and one of his rallying cries was “we are the children of the Reagan Revolution”. He went on to say how we believe in free enterprise, strong national defense, limited government and the constitution.

I thought to myself, that’s not the complete picture as far as what the Reagan Revolution embodied. I decided I should complete the list just so we can all be sure we’re talking about the same revolution:

We believe people should be punished for human weakness like addiction.

We believe people who become drug addicted or dependent are criminals.

We believe the best way to deal with human frailty, like addiction is to lock people in cages to teach them a lesson.

We believe mandatory minimum sentences, resulting in multi-decade prison terms for non-violent drug offenders are justifiable even if they disproportionally impact the poor and minorities.

We reject the belief that addiction is a disease and that education and rehabilitation, along with compassion and understanding is ultimately the best means of combating a problem largely created by the greed of the pharmaceutical and medical establishments.

Did I leave anything out? I hope not but please let me know if I did. I’m wrestling with the idea that all these years later, the best some Republicans can do is try to elevate Reagan to some demi-god-like status so we have no doubt in our minds as to what moral ground they occupy.

It’s not like Reagan was the first and only politician of any stripe to push for smaller government, free enterprise, robust defense and defending the constitution. That was nothing new in the 80’s. Hell it was nothing new in the 60’s and 70’s so how come Reagan is still getting the credit?

Here’s what I give the Reagan Revolution credit for:

Making America the world’s largest imprisoner of its own people with 5% of the world’s population and 25% of its prisoners. (about one out of every 107 American adults is locked up, almost 5 times as many as Britain, 7 times more than France and a whopping 24 times as many as India)

Turning the industry of “warehousing” human beings into a multi-billion dollar concern with a ridiculously strong lobby and political clout.

Condemning hundreds of thousands of people whose only crime was against themselves to years of torture, misery, humiliation, guilt, hopelessness and profound loss.

Costing tax payers inestimable billions not only for human storage but the collateral damage to innocent children and families left with little or no means of support. Families that through no fault of their own become a burden to society.

Please don’t misunderstand, I have no axe to grind with Marco Rubio. Indeed I think he’s a dynamic and talented politician with an excellent grasp of national and global affairs. It’s just that, considering how attitudes are changing with regard to perceiving addiction as a disease rather than a moral failing, I’m not so sure republicans are doing themselves any favor by flying the flag of the Reagan Revolution.  

Published by Bill Hoover