How do I tell this story? It’s a fantasy about idealism, passion and the phenomenon of craving.
Or just about one man with an idea. Here goes:
I was president of the High School student body, Valedictorian, quarterback of the football team. The Homecoming Queen and I got it on in the back seat of my Ford. I was going places. College, political science, pharmacy degree, successful pharmacist, elected to City Council, then State Assembly, then US Congress one term and now here I am, running for State Senator.
“Where are we going today?”, I asked my staff in the car.
“Orange County Lions Club?”
Okay, we’re headed to a fund raiser, vote getting activity that seems to be the key to politics where money talks and that’s about all there is for good ideas. I have been running for office for 20 years in California and this is the first one where I might actually make some money out of the dog and pony show. It’s all in the telling, I’m thinking.
This is a luncheon meeting at the local Holiday Inn, maybe 100 people in an area built for 300. We all have masks on and are appropriately social distanced. I am on the small stage in front. The round tables are built for 10 people yet today there are 3 at a table. The elevator music has been turned off and the lights dimmed except for the stage. The Lions club has flags and banners around the room from their history of do-gooding in the world. Lunch is over and the wait staff are standing still for our program to start. The president of the Lions Club has introduced me and I am looking out over the folks thinking of how I will improvise and deliver what has been devised by my handlers. I practice in my head, rehearsing silently;
(Hello Orange County, I am Jim McCamant and running for US Senator. I am here to get your vote and to be the best spokesman for all your interests. I’m 42 years old with a loving wife, most of the time, and two teen aged children that have managed to not get me in the headlines so far. I was trained as a Pharmacist yet since I won City Council and then state positions and representative, I am now a politician and hopefully a statesman…..I sell ideas that hopefully…blah blah blah…….)
(All they will remember is my tie, my gel filled hair, my sweet wife and my really hot looking secretary.)
(Ah well, here goes, I start, speaking out loud):
“I know we are in the midst of what may be the worst pandemic or epidemic any of us have known. And all the really bright people in the world are working to get us through this. And we will get through this. I’m confident as a pharmacist and a citizen. What I want to talk about is quality of life for all of us. What got pushed out of the headlines yet is still with us is the enormous cost of illegal drug use. Last year 193,000 people died of opioid overdose deaths. This epidemic is much more than the deadly flue. We have more people in our prisons right now than any country in the history of the world, most of the people are under-educated people of color with drug related, non-violent offenses. This costs us all a fortune to keep our police, courts and prisons functioning. Mexico, Central and South America are terrorized by drug cartels that finance themselves with the street money they get from us. These violent cartels are driving their people North to us for some sense of safety. Our money and our ineffective drug laws are where the cartels get their money and power. Opium, where heroine comes from, by the way, is the way the Taliban gets financed. Opium is the major exported product of Afghanistan. We are supporting them as well with our ineffective laws and in-denial culture. This is all a repeat of the violent gangsters of the 20’s during Alcohol Prohibition. When we tried to outlaw alcohol in the 20’s, we drank more than ever and the gangsters went on killing sprees, like the cartels of today. When we legalized alcohol all the gangsters became somewhat peaceable and went into politics.
“So I am running on a platform that we legalize all recreational drugs. All of em. They are cheap to manufacture, we can keep them safe, control them and the addicts can get them as they always have. We could get out of denial about what a threat this may be to our way of life. Drug addiction and the illicit business it supports are already a threat to our way of life and to most of the people in the world.”
“We could spend some of that useless prevention, enforcement and prison money on helping Mexico and Central America build infrastructure and police depts with some integrity. We could welcome the immigrants as working contributions to our culture, as they are anyway, and support them in rebuilding their own countries.”
I shut up for a time and look at the response on the faces of those in attendance. Mild interest from many, they like my gel filled hair.
I go back to thinking:
(This might actually work.)
(Can you imagine the market potential for the pharmaceutical companies? Cannabis, Opium, Meth Stores in every neighborhood? With empty prisons and decent education in the inner cities?)
(My handlers, by the way, are from the pharmaceutical industry).
A fantasy, remember?