Archive for the 'Polls' Category

Reasons to Get High… No Really

Posted by on Nov 21 2012 | Drug Policy, Economics, Polls, Popular Constitutionalism, Popular Culture, PPC, Public Opinion, Regulation, Tenth Amendment, U.S. Constitution

There are some good reasons to get high on pot.

The Independence Institute held no position on Amendment 64, legalizing recreational marijuana. And I know not everyone is thrilled about Colorado becoming the Amsterdam of America. But like it or not, it is in our state constitution.

So let me throw out this idea – even if you hate pot being legal, there are some great victories for limited government hidden inside this issue.

First, we finally have a state-rights issue that the Left can, must and will understand and fight to preserve.

Marijuana is still very illegal by federal law, but now it’s protected by our state constitution. I am no legal expert on the U.S. Constitution, but I don’t see anything in it that gives the Feds power over Colorado on this one. But what the hell do I know? I didn’t see anything in it that could let the Feds tax us for not buying health insurance.

Pardon me for stealing this phrase, but, this is a great teachable moment. This is a massive opportunity for those of us who fear the growing central authority in D.C. Some portion of the Left will now agree with us. We need to embrace this challenge and take a lead in educating Coloradans about the Tenth Amendment before the Left tries to pervert it somehow.

In order for those who support pot to keep in legal in Colorado, they MUST embrace the Founders’ ideal of Federalism. And I believe we need to help them understand the power of this simple ideal, and why it applies to a whole lot more than weed.

But if you hate Amendment 64 and wish it smothered out of existence, the only way that can happen now is if you embrace what the Left embraces: federal power trumping the expressed wishes of a sovereign state. Perhaps, like health insurance, the Feds can tax us for not purchasing dope, but they’ll have to pervert the Constitution (again) to override the vote in Colorado.

Here’s the second little prize in Amendment 64. Legalized pot MIGHT force some on the Left to face their hypocrisies, like their confusion on property rights and freedom of association.

In Colorado, it is illegal for an owner of a private establishment to allow tobacco smoking in their bar or restaurant. No one here is free to enjoy a cigar and a steak, or a cigarette and a cup of coffee, in the same place and time. Smokers cannot freely associate with other smokers, enjoying their legal product, in private establishments. Smokers are treated like lepers. My elitist hometown of Boulder is about ready to make smoking outdoors on the Pearl Street Mall illegal. Now that about 65% of Boulder voted for pot, will pot smokers and their business owners be treated like their tobacco-smoking brethren?

Tobacco is taxed at an exorbitant rate, regulated to the point of making it a controlled substance. State cigarette tax windfalls are spent on childhood reading programs and building sidewalks. Will the state heap wild sin taxes on pot and spend that money in ways that have nothing to do it?

I am looking forward to owners and customers of pot businesses opening their eyes (if they can pry their baked eyes open) to how abusive regulation destroys what they are trying to build.

We have a problem getting our message of limited government outside of our own echo chamber. If you doubt that, I’ll remind you of the last election. Well, here’s an uncomfortable opportunity to try something different.

Let’s channel our best Voltaire: I disagree with your decision to legalize pot, but I’ll defend to the death your state’s right to do it.

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2012 Election Re-cap with the Denver Post, Colorado Springs Gazette

Posted by on Nov 12 2012 | Idiot Box (TV Show), Politics, Polls, PPC

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Public opinion about the National Rifle Association

Posted by on Jun 02 2012 | guns, Politics, Polls, Popular Constitutionalism

In April, a Reuters/Ipsos poll found that the National Rifle Association was viewed favorably by 68% of Americans, and unfavorably by 32%. Unlike most polls, the Reuters poll apparently did not allow “unsure” or “undecided” as a choice. In each of the demographics which the poll provided–Republicans, Democrats, independents, whites, and blacks–the NRA was viewed favorably by at least 55%.

A 2005 Gallup Poll had found a 60/34 favorable/unfavorable view of the NRA. Previous Gallup results were 52/39 (May 2000), 51/39 (April 2000), 51/40 (April 1999, right after the Columbine High School murders), 42/51 (June 1995), and 55/32 (March 1993).

It is interesting to compare the NRA’s ratings with support for handgun control.  Since 1959, Gallup has been asking “Do you think there should or should not be a law that would ban the possession of handguns, except by the police and other authorized persons?” There have been some small changes in wording over the years, and the question is not a perfect test of support for handgun prohibition; some respondents might interpret “other authorized persons” simply as support for the licensing for handgun owners. However, the Gallup question is the closest thing there is to a 50-year gauge for sentiment for banning handguns.

In October 2011, Gallup found that 26% of Americans (a record low) thought that there should be such a law, and 73% did not. The 26/73 anti-/pro-handgun split is fairly close to the 32/68% anti-/pro-NRA split. After Columbine, 38% wanted the anti-handgun law, and 40% disapproved of NRA.

Likewise, Gallup in May 1993 found 54% in against the proposed law, and 55% approval for NRA.

Thus, generally speaking, over the last two decades, Americans who favor handgun prohibition appear to have accurately identified the NRA as a major obstacle to their wishes, and have viewed the NRA unfavorably. Americans who oppose handgun prohibition have viewed the NRA favorably for the same reason.

As American public opinion has evolved from a majority to a super-majority which supports the right to own a handgun, public opinion has likewise moved towards a super-majority with a favorable view of the NRA.

There are many causes for the evolution, but it seems plausible that at least part of the cause has been the increasing effectiveness of the NRA itself. To the extent that the NRA has convinced some Americans that handguns in the right hands are beneficial, then those Americans may have become more likely to view the NRA favorably. To the extent that popular NRA spokesmen (such as three-term NRA President Charlton Heston) or popular NRA programs (such as Eddie Eagle Gun Safety) have made some Americans view the NRA favorably, some of those Americans may have become less inclined to support handgun prohibition.

Because the NRA has (despite some fierce criticisms by Republicans, including in 2010) continued to support Democrats with good records on the Second Amendment, and to oppose Republicans with bad records, the NRA has avoided the problem of being identified with only a single political party. When an interest group supports only one party, that group will inevitably be viewed unfavorably by most members of the other political party.

And now that even long-time anti-gun advocates such as Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer have been affirming their support for the Second Amendment individual right, the basic premise with which the NRA is identified has become so widely supported that only politicians in very safe districts dare to dispute it publicly.

Founded in 1871, the NRA views itself as “America’s oldest civil rights organization,” an embodiment of American freedom values. These days, it seems that most Americans tend to agree.

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Primary Voting, Cartoonist Kenny Be on Devil’s Advocate

Posted by on Feb 10 2012 | denver, Idiot Box (TV Show), Politics, Polls, Popular Culture, PPC

Look, we already know how tonight’s blind date is going to turn out, so instead, stay in and watch the Independence Institute’s public affairs TV show Devil’s Advocate. First, syndicated columnist Jay Ambrose sits down with me to discuss the odds of Republican primary voters picking a candidate who can’t beat Barack Obama in a general election. Then Kenny Be swings by to talk about his many years as the editorial cartoonist for Westword; Denver’s alternative weekly newspaper. That’s Friday at 8:30 p.m. on Colorado Public Television 12.

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“Ronald Reagan, Extremist Collaborator”

Posted by on Oct 28 2010 | Politics, Polls

(David Kopel)

Just published at The New Ledger, an article describing the Democratic effort to label Ronald Reagan as an “extremist,” during his 1966 campaign for Governor of California. Thanks to all the VC folks who responded to my bleg a few days ago, and provided good research leads.


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