by Lee McLamb
[This speech was given at the Cannabis Freedom Festival in Melbourne, Florida on November 23, 1997]
Good afternoon, I am Lee McLamb from the Libertarian Party of Brevard and I want to let you know that you have a choice. You no longer have to choose between the lesser of two evils that Democrats and Republicans offer in election after election. The Libertarian Party, the party of principle, gives you something for which you can vote instead. The Libertarian Party stands for personal and economic freedom. Only the Libertarians know that the best person to make the decisions that affect your life is NOT a commissioner in Vierra, NOT a bureaucrat in Tallahassee, and certainly NOT some politician in Washington, DC. The best and most qualified person to make the decisions that affect your life is you. Nowhere have the other two parties' attempts to control your life met with more failure, fraud, and abuse than the so-called "War on Drugs."
We have all heard elected officials talk about the big problems with drugs in this country, and there is a problem with drugs in this country. They are illegal. The drugs are not the problem. The laws that make the sale, possession, and consumption of drugs illegal cause almost every problem that people associate with drugs today. When a new pharmacy or other business moves into a neighborhood, nobody expects crime to increase. Instead, they see new jobs and more prosperity. Once drugs become decriminalized, legitimate businesses will drive criminals out of the drug marketplace.
Politicians have learned the effectiveness of preying on people's fear crime. As a result, they promote the idea that if drugs become legal, more people will steal to purchase their drugs. This is a problem of the politicians' own making. The only reason crime becomes a problem is the politicians have passed laws that limit the drug supply. By the hard laws of supply and demand, the War on Drugs has artificially inflated the price of drugs to the point that addicts must steal to pay for their habit.
The politicians also like to play the friend of the business owner. They express great concern that employees who can legally use drugs will somehow hurt their employers. This not an issue with which government officials should even concern themselves. The best and most qualified person to decide whether an employee is an asset or a hindrance to the company is that employer. The employer and employee alone can best resolve the details of their relationship.
The saddest part of this entire effort is that it is really nothing new. Our country traveled down this road before when they tried to make alcohol illegal. During Prohibition there were gang wars, drive-by shootings, and the corruption of police officers and judges. The murder rate also soared to an unprecedented level. Prohibition failed and ended in the 1930s. Following the repeal of Prohibition, the murder rate in this country dropped for three consecutive decades.
When the government started the "War on Drugs," the murder rate started rising once again. Today we again have one of the highest murder rates in our country's history. The "War on Drugs" has brought us the return of gang wars, drive-by shootings, and corruption of the police and judges. The Democrats and Republicans have failed to learn the lessons that history teaches. Libertarians have learned and Libertarians know that just as Prohibition failed and ended in the 1930s, the "War on Drugs" has failed and must end in the 1990s.
If we do not end this insane "War on Drugs," we are going to see more and more of our rights and freedoms taken from us. Nowhere is this clearer than asset forfeiture. Asset forfeiture laws allow the police to seize your property based on the suspicion that it may have been involved in a crime. This goes directly against our country's traditions and Constitution. The Fifth Amendment says that government cannot take property without just compensation to the owner. Asset forfeiture allows no compensation for the victim. The Fourteenth Amendment states that "nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property without due process of law." Due process does not mean that a law enforcement official suspects a crime may have occurred. Due process means having the chance to examine the evidence against you as well as the opportunity to confront those who would bear witness against you and to call witnesses in your defense. Due process means having all the evidence presented to a jury of your peers and having that jury return a verdict based on the hearing of that evidence. That is due process.
When we began bypassing the Constitution, we created the conditions that have led to the point where today the police are a bigger threat to us than the criminals. Since asset forfeiture laws started being passed, state and federal law enforcement agencies have seized 4.1 billion dollars in assets. During the same time, criminal activity accounted for the loss of only 3.8 billion dollars. I have a five-year-old son, and this is NOT what I want him to have in mind when he plays "Cops and Robbers." The only way we are going to put an end to this is to start electing officials and getting judges appointed who know, understand, and will uphold and defend the Constitution. This is one of the reason we have formed the Libertarian Party of Brevard. The Libertarian Party of Brevard is not a debating society or an education forum. The Libertarian Party of Brevard exists to find principled Libertarian candidates, carry out campaigns and win elections.
I have mentioned principles several times. That is because the Libertarian Party is the party of principle. Unlike the other parties, we do not change our position on issues based on the people who can give us a few votes, or who will donate money to our party. The Libertarian Party bases its positions on the principles of personal freedom, personal responsibility, and a Constitutionally restrained government. Because we base our positions on principles, Libertarians are not afraid to take a stand and speak out on tough issues.
That is why I am here talking with you today. The State of Florida recently formed a Constitutional Revision Commission to review and revise the State Constitution. Libertarians have been at every public Commission hearing around the state. Over and over again, the Commissioners have heard that asset forfeiture is wrong and must be ended. We are having an impact. So far, the Commission has provisionally adopted an amendment to end asset forfeiture and we expect to see it on the ballot this November. These principles are also why you will see Libertarians out this spring gathering signatures on petitions to amend the State Constitution to allow the medical use of marijuana. Libertarians are not afraid to take a stand.
If the other party's catering to special interests and big money has left you feeling unrepresented and politically homeless, stop by our booth for the politically homeless. Take the "World's Smallest Political Quiz." In about two minutes you will see where you fall on the political spectrum.
If you are not registered to vote, we have voter registration forms. Voting is one of the most important things you can do. Recently a Brevard County Congressman only had a 19% voter turnout in his election. He catered to special interests in the north end of the county during his campaign. For all practical purposes, he not only got their vote, he also got the votes of the other 81% of the voters who did not show up at the polls that day. When you do not vote, those special interests that oppose your views not only get their votes counted in their favor. They effectively get your non-votes counted in their favor as well.
I know a lot of us become disillusioned because skeptics tell us over and over that politicians will never do anything that would scare or offend the older voters. "It would be political suicide," they say. What they do not tell you is that there are ten million more Americans between the ages of 18 and 35 than age 55 and older. That age group from 18 to 35 could practically control elections and set the course for this country for generations to come. We know that you feel that the Democrats and Republicans do not represent you. We know this because over half of the registered voters under age 30 are not registered as either Democrat or Republican. I encourage you to look at Libertarian principles and join the Libertarian Party. The Libertarian Party of Brevard meets the last Monday of each month at 7:00 p.m. at Cantina Dos Amigos, 1924 Highway A1A in Indian Harbor Beach. I would like to see all of you there tomorrow night.
It is an exciting time to be a Libertarian. The party is bigger and growing faster than ever before in our 25-year history. Currently there are over 200 libertarians in office around the country. We are having an impact and with your support we can do even more.
Working together, we can elect officials who will make a difference.
This page was last updated 07/02/00 01:50 PM