The Tea Party has friends in high places.
Conventional wisdom would have dictated that Tea Party candidates and voters would oppose California Prop 19, which would legalize marijuana in that state. While many of the state’s celebrity Twitter users took to the medium to encourage California to Legalize It, one would have expected the most influential Tea Partiers to heft every bit of sway into pooping on the prop 19 party.
After all, Tea Partiers are widely believed to be 2 things above all else: conservative, and undereducated. One would not suspect a candidate who doesn’t know the First Amendment stipulates a separation of church and state to possess the intellectual rigor required to stand consistent with a libertarian platform when it means your 14 year-old may start getting legal, easy access to weed.
But it appears the Tea Party may be doing exactly that. The Christian Science Monitor today runs an interview with Leo Laurence, a “former California sheriff’s deputy and currently a writer and pro-legalization activist at Law Enforcement Against Prohibition (LEAP).”
Of his own Tea Party skepticism, he says “I had written that the tea party would probably oppose it, but then I got phone calls saying, ‘No, you’re wrong on that.’ Tea party people have a very strong position that the government has no right to get involved in your private affairs … when you’re not hurting yourself or somebody else. And that’s basically Prop. 19 in a nutshell.”
What’s more, Republicans in general do not reflect the same sentiment. Prop 19 California polls indicate 65 percent of Republicans overall oppose proposition 19, as opposed to only 25 percent who support it. The split reflected in the poll numbers highlights a deeper rift between the Tea Party and other facets of the GOP establishment. Recently Karl Rove, scion of the Bush-era GOP establishment, insinuated Sarah Palin was unfit to hold the office of the president. Yesterday, Palin called the GOP institution that would seek to discredit her “sleazy,” all while her Sarah Palin PAC donates significant funds to these very same “sleazy” candidates.
The Tea Party may be in a bit of an identity crisis, and they may well inherit the dominant power structure from incumbent Republicans, themselves becoming the “GOP establishment.” If that happens, it will be a bummer for those of us on the left. But hey, at least we’ll be able to spark up a J in peace.