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Another Wave!

When longstanding political issues start to shift, once the ice is broken the change can happen relatively quickly. A recent example is the legalization of gay marriage, which I had hoped would happen, but until a few years ago never thought would take place in my lifetime. But now, a majority of US citizens live in states where gay marriage is legal.

Tonight we are witnessing the growth of another wave. Oregon just overwhelmingly voted to legalize recreational marijuana, despite rejecting similar proposals in the last two elections. Washington DC legalized the possession of limited amounts of marijuana (but not sale). As of right now, Alaska’s legalization measure is ahead. Guam also legalized. The only place legalization failed this time around was Florida (legalization received 58% of the vote, but required at least 60% to pass).

Ironically, I think marijuana legalization is a case of “follow the money”. In the past, legalization measures have often failed because of money spent by people who had the most to lose, not just alcohol distributors but also people and groups that sold marijuana illegally.

Previously, there were not enough groups that were making money off of marijuana to sponsor further legalization efforts. But once legalization happened in Washington state and Colorado, that industry started making money. And there is nothing an industry likes as much as new markets! In fact, the majority of the money raised by the pro-legalization effort in Oregon came from wealthy donors from outside Oregon.

Also like gay marriage, as states legalize marijuana it will reassure voters that there is nothing to fear. Gays started getting married and the sky did not fall. God didn’t smite anybody. In fact, legalizing gay marriage was something of a non-event (except for those happy people who were able to marry the ones they loved). The main news coming out of states that legalized marijuana is that they are making money taxing it.

As each state legalizes, the pace will increase. I predict that it is virtually certain that California will legalize marijuana in the upcoming presidential election. I wouldn’t be surprised if other states legalize then as well.

UPDATE: Alaska, did approve legalization. They are the first strongly Republican state to legalize so it is no longer just a Democratic party issue. Even Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul is OK with legalization.

And last night also hinted at a new wave — five states (Alaska, South Dakota, Nebraska, Illinois, and Arkansas) raised the minimum wage, including several states where Republicans swept the election. For example, in Arkansas the Republican challenger ousted the Democratic incumbent in the Senate, yet a ballot measure to raise the minimum wage received around two-thirds of the vote.



  1. Ralph wrote:

    Marijuana and gay marriage legalization is all well and good, I’m all for it and it’s been long overdue. But this country is in much deeper hot water than all that and I’m not so optimistic about the growing plight of the middle class (what’s left of it), growing student debt and health care. We’re the only “advanced” country that puts many students into deep debt trying to get an education, and likewise families who are one major illness away from bankruptcy. Yes, the ACA addressed some of that but given last night’s results, we can expect further assaults on it’s provisions, so we’ll see. In Red State America, if you can’t make a buck off something it’s gotta go.

    The billionaire’s election we just had put Republicans in control of both houses. Though not filibuster proof, the net result just means instead of a do-nothing Congress we’ll now have a totally gridlocked one.

    Otherwise, things are just peachy keen and just the way you like it, if you’re one of the 1%.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 9:07 am | Permalink
  2. il-08 wrote:

    I agree with Ralph, I guess the good news is we can get stoned while the 1% screw us, maybe we won’t notice as much.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 9:26 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    If you are seriously looking for silver linings, here’s the scuttlebutt I’m hearing.

    First of all, Republicans taking over the Senate makes little difference. They have been filibustering everything in sight there anyway. Instead, expect the GOP-controlled Congress to send wave after wave of bills that blatantly favor the 1% (their real base) to Obama, which they want him to veto so they can use it for political hay in the 2016 election. They want to be able to portray Obama as the problem, vetoing their efforts at passing legislation. “See, we aren’t the party of no after all” they will say. Heck, they have already started saying that they will be happy to work with Obama as long as Obama can “start” to compromise. What a joke! But this won’t work — Obama is already unpopular because they’ve been bashing him on Fox News every day. So Obama has nothing to lose (see recent video on Obama being a lame duck).

    It isn’t too hard to guess that 2016 will pit Hillary Clinton against Jeb Bush, and Clinton will win in a landslide. Both candidates will go negative on Obama (Clinton already has) so his unpopularity won’t affect the results.

    Not only that, but in the 2016 election there are 7 GOP Senate seats that are winnable by the Dems, and no Dem Senate seats that are in danger. So Dems will likely take back the Senate. It will be a presidential election year, so there will be much higher Dem voter turnout.

    The GOP will not be able to pass significant legislation in the next two years. They have no leadership and no agenda. It would be political suicide to repeal the ACA at this point. And do you think they could pass immigration reform? No chance of that, alienating (pun intended) the growing Latino population even more. Obama will bypass Congress and try to fix the immigration problem as much as he can, and the Republican Congress will sue him (or maybe even impeach him) for that, which will really piss off the Latinos.

    Even though a majority of Americans say they dislike Obama and self-identify as conservatives, the recent comprehensive Pew study shows that they are increasingly supporting liberal causes. They claim to be conservatives, but they act like liberals (part of this is because of the concerted effort by Fox News to make “liberal” a bad name). So we get a GOP Congress (which is gridlocked anyway) in this election, but we also get marijuana legalization, and increases in the minimum wage in five states (including states controlled by the Republicans), and more gay marriage.

    happy yet? 🙂

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 11:27 am | Permalink
  4. wildwood wrote:

    Happier. The problem with calling yourself a conservative is that Obama is one too. I’ve never ever considered doing that. I don’t like a lot of what Obama does, but I am a liberal and he is not. I only vote for the conservative Democrats because that is my only choice in most cases. When I voted the other day, I wrote my own name down for a couple of unopposed races. Needless to say, I didn’t win. 🙂

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 2:45 pm | Permalink
  5. wildwood wrote:

    Oh and I think I perhaps disagree with your comment on the ACA. They have so successfully vilified it to their base, they will have rough sledding if they don’t at least attempt to destroy it. And given Obama’s wishy washiness, he might not veto changes they put forward.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 2:51 pm | Permalink
  6. Hassan wrote:

    Wait you mean to say Republicans “only” represent 1%? How come the non-1% people voted for them? Why did I vote republican while I am far from being 1%? May be there are more reasons that democrats do not want to look into.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 2:57 pm | Permalink
  7. Hassan wrote:

    Gay marriage was on ballot? I know previous times when gay marriage was on ballot, people overwhelming voted to ban it, but courts overruled it.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 2:59 pm | Permalink
  8. Mike wrote:

    This is going to be a very interesting two years for Boehner and McConnell. They should each be less worried about Democrats and Obama and a lot more worried about their Tea Party members.

    Now that Republicans control Congress, their base – particularly the Tea Party Fox viewers – will demand red meat, while that red meat will increasingly alienate moderate voters for 2016.

    I see them in a no-win situation – they can’t satisfy their increasingly old, white, scared base, while attracting the voters from the new demographics they need to prevail in 2016.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 4:04 pm | Permalink
  9. il-08 wrote:

    I doubt that veto demanding legislation will actually get to Obama, as it will be the Demos turn to filibuster every bill coming out of the house. I’ll predict a Republican led rules change to end the filibuster once and for all time.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 4:14 pm | Permalink
  10. Iron Knee wrote:

    Yeah, the Republicans are already making noises about changing the rules. In which case, there will be no downside to the veto for Obama.

    Hassan, where did I say the Republicans only represent the 1%? I said the 1% are their real base. They are the people bankrolling the Republicans, and that is pretty much all the GOP cares about any more.

    Here’s another interesting article about what will happen in the next two years (I don’t agree with everything, but it is still a fun read):

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 5:47 pm | Permalink
  11. Michael wrote:

    I’m sad to say that I got my wish, but only because I was resigned to the fact anyways. At this point, I’m getting my popcorn to enjoy watching the complicated dance maneuvers that Boehner and McConnell will try to pull of in the next two years. They’re trapped. The words that will be keeping them up at nights are “Blue Wall” (the states with 247-ish electoral votes that have unwaveringly gone to the Democratic candidate for the past 6 elections) and “Eric Cantor.” They can do something to mitigate the damage of the former by trying to actually govern, but in doing so, they’ll end up like the latter.

    It’s going to be quite a fun 2 years for people who enjoy gawking at the irony and hypocrisy of politicians. Oh wait…what’s the name of this web site again?

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 5:53 pm | Permalink
  12. Iron Knee wrote:

    The name of this website is “We freakin’ survived Dubya and Cheney, we will surely survive this.”

    Or maybe “The GOP has proven so many times that they can’t govern their way out of a wet paper bag, but that they can buy enough people’s votes anyway”.

    Michael, follow the link in my last comment. You’ll enjoy it.

    And as David Letterman said last night:

    This is what happens when we have the midterm elections. The Republicans, of course, have turned against Obama, and the Democrats have also turned against Obama. That’s a lonely, lonely gig being president, ladies and gentlemen.

    Take a look at this: gas under $3 a gallon – under $3 a gallon. Unemployment under 6%, whoever thought? Stock market breaking records every day. No wonder the guy is so unpopular.

    Wednesday, November 5, 2014 at 6:08 pm | Permalink
  13. TJ wrote:

    FYI, Illinois did not raise the minimum wage – the vote you are referring to was a non-binding resolution asking voters whether they support increasing the minimum wage to $10 by January 1, 2015. It is great that it passed, but it will not change anything unless a law is passed via the normal methods.

    Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 12:44 am | Permalink
  14. TJ wrote:

    Hassan – I’m not sure why the non-1% people vote for Republicans. Republican elected officials clearly act in the best interest of the 1% as opposed to the best interest of the majority of the people who vote for them. You bring up a baffling paradox.

    Maybe you can help. Why did you vote for Republicans? What have Republican elected officials done for you recently that made you as a 99%er choose to vote for them? Not things they said they would do, but things they actually did?

    Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 12:52 am | Permalink
  15. Anonymous wrote:

    In Germany the populous loved Hitler and hated the Jews because Hitler told them to. Propaganda.
    Called Fox News in this country. The ignorant vote for Republicans because they are brain washed by Fox News.
    And did you know that ten whole doctors said not to get flu shots? I’m supposed to believe that also.

    Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 6:25 am | Permalink
  16. Ralph wrote:

    This reminds me of two axioms (idioms?) I recall from college days in my PoliSci class: “The masses are asses.” and “People get the government they deserve.”

    Cynical, perhaps. But seeing the pathetic voter turnout, esp in mid-term elections, and the BS many people swallow that, through fear or obfuscation, convince them to effectively vote against their own long term interests, leads me to think there’s a kernel of truth there.

    Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 8:12 am | Permalink
  17. Hassan wrote:

    TJ, I hate Republicans for certain things, and I hate democrats for certain things. On a given election cycle I may hate one more than the other. So I voted against whom I hated more this election cycle. So it does not mean I will not vote democrat in future. One thing I learned, although I hated Bush and wanted him not to be re-elected in 2004 and I hated Obama (after liking him first) in 2008 and wanted him to be defeated in 2012, I think second term presidents are pretty much limited in what they can do and pass, and in future I will vote for incumbent for president no matter how much I hate them (unless the opponent is someone I really like, rather than just hate less).

    Is there anything I like about Republicans or Democrats?? Yes, but the things I like about each one of them, they are just rhetoric to win elections, and they act like opposite party once they get in power. For example I thought democrats will repeal patriot act, will stop wars, stop drone killings, stop warrant-less spying, will punish wall street CEOs, but they just say those things to get elected, then act just like republicans.

    Similarly I like republicans for social conservatism, defending religious liberty, free market etc. But they do opposite or nothing in these matters.

    Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 8:37 am | Permalink
  18. Hassan wrote:

    TJ you are last statement, “What have Republican elected officials done for you recently that made you as a 99%er choose to vote for them? Not things they said they would do, but things they actually did?”

    I am in Texas, and I think most people are doing quite well, specially that are in STEM. So I did not feel any need to change, but explicitly they have nothing new for me. I have few list of things that any party can do for me to get my vote, but what I like will be out of question from democrats, and not sure what republicans at state level can do about it. So I will really like voucher program, so that I can take my kids to private school and not pay out of pocket. They already go to private school, but it costs lots of money, and while I keep paying property taxes (in texas that funds public school).

    Thursday, November 6, 2014 at 8:45 am | Permalink
  19. Iron Knee wrote:

    Hassan, thanks for answering the question and you do have a good point. The Republicans are for school vouchers and the Democrats (at least many of them) are against them. So I will admit that you are (in this case) voting for your own self interest when you vote for Republicans.

    Saturday, November 8, 2014 at 1:55 pm | Permalink