Best down-ballot initiatives of the 2020 election

Originally published on Sumner Newscow on November 13, 2020

Happy Friday. And also a belated welcome to President-Elect Joe Biden’s America.  Last Saturday, cities around the world celebrated the news that Pennsylvania had been called for Biden to put him over the 270 electoral threshold that secures him the highest office in the land.  Since then, the president-elect has tacked on another 20 electoral votes for good measure, but regardless of what the final count will be, a few things are for certain: Joe Biden will be the President on January 20, multiple third-party election moderators found no evidence of voter fraud, and Donald Trump is officially a loser and the first president to lose the popular vote twice.

In the abysmal year that is 2020, we all needed a win and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a singular event cause the celebrations that popped up on Saturday.  And while expunging a fascist leader to install a painful return to the status quo will have a huge effect on art in the country, I’m hardly alone in writing about that.  Instead, I’d like to focus on a number of successful ballot measures that have the potential to significantly change the culture around us.

The biggest loser from November 3 didn’t have a political party attached at the end of its name, but has survived in American politics since Richard Nixon: the war on drugs.  The war on drugs was always meant to be a smokescreen in which to incarcerate and otherwise oppress communities of color and force them back into a codified Jim Crowe system, but this election saw a major blow to its relevancy. Morons like Nancy Reagan have espoused for years that greater policing and harsher sentences will solve the “problem” of drug use despite that concept being disputed by most other developed countries. Five states sought to reject that mode of thinking by legalizing marijuana for recreational use, one going as far as to decriminalize all drugs, but more on that in a second.

Legalized marijuana

If you are still against the legalization of marijuana, you are either 120 years old or just so behind the times that I’m surprised you were technologically capable enough to find this article on the internet.  The nation is overwhelmingly in favor of full legalization despite political affiliation, yet the Democratic Party is loath to pick it up in their messaging because they are embarrassingly bad at winning elections.  New Jersey, Arizona (recently blue), Montana, and South Dakota all legalized weed for recreational use and as you can see, it’s no longer just the Democratic states getting in on the action.  Even in Sumner County, there seems to be support for the question. In a recent Sumner Newscow weekly poll ran in February of 2020, 56 percent of you felt marijuana should be legalized both medically and recreationally (see poll here).

Marijuana is now legal in some form in over 70 percent of U.S. states and territories, but the biggest factor isn’t even on all the weed you’ll now have access to.  Montana is the only state I found that spelled it out explicitly in their ballot measure, but it’s likely that as states decriminalize and legalize drugs like marijuana, they’ll be able to release and expunge the records for the over half a million people trapped in prisons for minor drug offenses.  This won’t solve the scourge of mass-incarceration and voter disenfranchisement, but this is a first step to rectifying America’s shameful, backward thinking on the issue.

Drug decriminalization in Oregon

A more meaningful step towards that cause is taking place in Oregon.  If you’ve been on any social media site since the election, you’ll know that Oregon decriminalized heavier drugs like heroin and meth, which people have taken to clowning pretty heavily.  Besides the Presidential race, however, I believe this was the most meaningful victory to come out of the entire election cycle.  Oregon is finally the first state to flat-out reject incarceration-based drug policy and will instead use that funding to heavily invest in addiction treatment.  If you, or anyone you know has struggled with addiction (maybe to an opioid, remember that epidemic?), you’ll recognize this as a brilliant and long overdue move.  People who are abusing drugs or committing crimes to satisfy a drug habit aren’t guilty of immorality, their victims of a very real disease that Oregon wants to get the help they need.

Puertorican Statehood

Another meaningful vote that could (but won’t) have a large impact on the U.S. was Puerto Rico’s referendum to become a state.  America’s closest colony has voted on this before only to be met with deaf ears by Congress, but there might be change in the air soon.  From its pitiful response to the ongoing Hurricane Maria effort to its general apathy towards the island, the U.S. has made abundantly clear it doesn’t see Puerto Rico as a worthy addition to the union.  If Puerto Rico were in a more militarily advantageous spot, however, the U.S. would’ve made it the next Hawaii by now.  For those of you who don’t know, I live in Washington D.C. so I’m no stranger to votes on statehood, but with more successful referendums like this in the election cycle and on the horizon, we could be looking at two new states in the next few decades.

New Mississippi Flag

There were myriad other meaningful ballot measures passed around the country last Tuesday, but the last one I’ll talk about is Mississippi’s new flag.  The state of Mississippi is considered the most conservative in the nation as well as the one with the lowest education spending so it’s unsurprising that its flag up until last week contained a battle flag of one battalion in Virginia during the Confederacy years that was later dubbed by idiots, “the rebel flag.”

Once again, for the stupid, racist people in the back, this is not the flag of the Confederacy, it was one battalion in the northern-most traitorous state that was later adopted by traitorous losers to stand in for the actual flag of the Confederacy that was much uglier.  Well, in an uplifting turn of events, Mississippi decided to change that flag to one that is admittedly very beautiful and contains a magnolia flower in the center.  This is a nice face-lift for America’s ruby-red center, but just as a reminder, this was only possible after years of protests and civil disobedience.  I distinctly remember college football fans telling an Ole Miss running back to “shut up and play” when he voiced that he wouldn’t play under the flag of his oppressors and then the next election, they made it happen.  Protesting works and here’s to four more years of it as we keep Biden accountable.

Meme of the week

I, unfortunately, can’t look at every meme that dominates the internet every week, so if you see a meme and think it should be the meme of the week please send it to:

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