Bush's plan to use gay marriage bans -- in states that did not actually allow gay marriage -- as a turnout booster led to signs featuring icky public restroom symbols proliferated and liberal panic that the Christian right had taken over. The press obsessed over "values voters." One of Bush's aides, Ken Mehlman, who later came out as gay himself, has apologized for the strategy, two others say it didn't work.
This year there's another incumbent president with modest approval
ratings who could turn out his base with controversial ballot measures.
But this time, the issue features no biblical or scatological imagery.
In 2012, voters in swing states will decide whether they'll allow their
fellow citizens to bear joints. Unlike the gay marriage votes, there's
no indication that Obama's re-election team is behind any of the pot
legalization initiatives, but there are Democrats who are hoping that it
will boost turnout among weed's biggest fans: young people.
Getting more young people to vote has long been a Democratic fantasy,
since they tend to vote so heavily Democratic. But past attempts to bong
the vote have been disappointing, in part because stoners aren't the
group anyone would most count on to bother filling out a ballot. Ahead
of the 2010 midterms, The Wall Street Journal ran the story, "Democrats
Look to Cultivate Pot Vote in 2012," noting that California's
pot-legalizing Proposition 19 was being studied to see if similar
measures "could energize young, liberal voters in swing
states for the 2012 presidential election." But exit polls that year
showed no spike in young voter turnout, and marijuana legalization was the top issue for just 1 in 10 voters, the Los Angeles Times reported.
(Also: Californians ended up voting down Prop. 19.) Still, there were
hopeful signs: 64 percent of voters 18-to-24 supported it, and 52
percent of voters 25-to-29 did. In March, the pro-legalization site Just Say Now
suggested that the presidential election will draw more young people to
the polls, and they'll vote for pot legalization while they're there.
That being said, several have argued that this cold be the year for
pro-marijuana turnout. After all, 2011 was the first year more young people smoked pot than cigarettes, the CDC says. There is a marijuana initiative on the ballot in Washington, and there might be one in Nebraska and Massachusetts, but those states are pretty solid for one party or the other.
In my opinion this is proof of their desperation. After having some sort of turn out the vote routine every 4 years for 5 or 6 election cycles, you'd think they'd see what we do. IT DOESN'T WORK!
But this does achieve something else IMO. It get's this issue WAY out front for the future. As a Libertarian thinker on matters of personal choice, we NEED to decriminalize marijuana. Our jails are filled and many people are there for stupidly small amounts of pot. If nothing else, we can free up jail space by legalizing the weed. And then there's the added dual incentive of GETTING tax revenue from marijuana sales and we QUIT spending money on interdiction of people who are smoking pot.
Does this solve ALL the drug problems? No, but it sure as hell starts the ball rolling on eliminating 80 years of laws based on lies and personal opinions instead of science and intelligence.