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Drug War Congressman Bites the Dust

Drug Warby Jacob G. Hornberger

The times they are a-changin’!

A pro-drug war congressman from El Paso, Silvestre Reyes, a Democrat, has just been defeated in his bid for reelection by a man named Beto O’Rourke. And take a wild guess what O’Rourke’s principal issue was: drug legalization. Why, Reyes didn’t even make a run-off since O’Rourke walked away with 50.4 percent of the primary vote. I hope Reyes isn’t addicted to political power because come January he’s going to have some serious withdrawal pains.

Actually, the battle between Reyes and O’Rourke goes back to 2009, when O’Rourke was serving on the El Paso city council. The council was discussing possible solutions to the horrific drug-war violence in El Paso’s sister city on the Mexican side of the border, Ciudad Juarez.

O’Rourke convinced the council to unanimously enact a resolution calling for national leaders to conduct a serious debate on drug legalization as a way to end the drug-war violence. O’Rourke had said to the council, “We know the war on drugs is empowering the drug lords and is costing us millions of dollars. Let’s start an honest national debate that would end the prohibition of narcotics.”

Now, mind you, the city council’s resolution didn’t endorse drug legalization. It simply said that the subject should be placed on the table for debate.

Nonetheless, the mayor of El Paso, John Cook, and Congressman Reyes went ballistic. The mayor immediately vetoed the resolution, exclaiming, “It is not realistic to believe that the U.S. Congress will seriously consider any broad-based debate on the legalization of narcotics. That position is not consistent with the community standards both locally and nationally.”

For his part, Reyes intimated that the resolution could result in — Horror! Horror! — a termination of federal funds to El Paso. After he sent that message to the city council, four members of the council voted to sustain the mayor’s veto of the resolution.

So, O’Rourke decided to take the fight directly to Reyes by running against him for Congress in the Democratic primary. Reyes brought up all the standard arguments for his pro-drug war position, even stooping so low as to make the inane argument that since O’Rourke favors drug legalization, he must favor the use of drugs. Reyes said, “My opponent seems to think that recreational use of marijuana is okay with him, and that’s the group he hangs around with — but it’s not for me, it’s not for my grandkids.”

But O’Rourke hit the nail on the head with his utilitarian critique of the drug war, stating, “You have 10,000 people killed in the most brutal fashion in Ciudad Juarez in the last 10 years, without a single word from the congressman about what we can do to change the dynamic and stop the bloodshed. It is clear to me that what we’re doing is a failure.”

Even sweeter, Reyes was endorsed by President Barack Obama, and received a campaign stop from former President Clinton, two of the most famous drug-war proponents in the world and both of whom have admitted ingesting drugs without ever being punished by the state for it.

Since this particular congressional district is predominantly Democratic, O’Rourke is unlikely to face a serious threat from a GOP opponent. That means that with Ron Paul’s departure from Congress, there will still be at least one member of Congress calling for ending the brutal, vicious, corrupt, deadly, evil, and immoral war on drugs.

So far, no word yet on whether Reyes is trying to convince the federal government to terminate federal funds to El Paso before he leaves office.

The order is
Rapidly fadin’
And the first one now
Will later be last
For the times they are a-changin’.
— Bob Dylan

Jacob Hornberger is founder and president of the Future of Freedom Foundation.

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