What happened in Escondido the other night was very unfortunate. The populist revolt against the conditional use permit, to house Central American refugee children at a temporary facility in Escondido, is an understandable reaction to failed federal immigration policy. The federal government has failed to enforce our borders (almost willingly) for at least two Presidential administrations now. Naturally, people are frustrated.
The protest looked really bad — indifferent at best and xenophobic at worst. Doug Porter at San Diego Free Press suggests that it’s bigotry (it’s not) and Logan Jenkins thinks it’s a form of tea party, anti-DC, NIMBY-ism (closer to the mark). It’s frustration, but it’s frustration with the wrong failed federal policy. Make no mistake about it, these kids are war refugees, refugees from the failed war on drugs.
Conservatives should measure policy on results rather than intent. We are constantly bemoaning “liberal do-gooders” who persist with bad policy because “they mean well” but refuse to pull the planks out of our own eyes when it comes to the failed war on drugs. The war on drugs creates more violence in America, along the border towns of the US and Mexico, and now in cartel-controlled, Central American cities. The war on drugs created a “right-wing jobs program” with our prison system. Real reform then, aimed at drug users, becomes almost impossible because of the need for more prison space, more prosecutors, more judges, and more prison guards. Any attempts at reform are constantly opposed by special interest groups, seeking to keep or expand the status quo.
The war on drugs has failed — it hasn’t met it’s goals. Reforming how we deal with drug users is essential. Should we legalize all drugs? Probably not, but imprisoning teenagers for life, for baking and selling pot brownies, is clearly not the answer. In many ways, the war on drugs has become identical to LBJ’s war on poverty. It replaces the State for what should be families’, churches’, and other civil institutions’ roles in society.
The callousness of the Escondido mob the other night is but a side effect of the wrong prescription to the disease. Drug abuse is a horrible disease in America but, as is with most problems, more government is not the cure. Conservatives will see more foreign orphans crossing our borders if we insist on prescribing medicine that isn’t effective. If Americans took better care of our kids, we wouldn’t have so many foreign kids at our doorsteps.