If there’s a singular issue that has done Dana Rohrabacher well through the years, it’s his pot stance.
In a departure from his other hard-right leanings, Rohrabacher is (to his credit, I suppose) a strong proponent of marijuana rights. He recently sponsored the bill HR 975—the Respect State Marijuana Laws Act of 2017. This allows people in states where pot is legal to not be charged with violating the controlled substances law. Said Rohrabacher at Monday’s California Cannabis Business Expo: “The Republicans know there are still people around there who are living in the 1950s and so it’s hard for the Republicans to do this. We gave them an avenue to vote for freedom, leave it up to the states.”
A few thoughts:
A. Rohrabacher has (wisely) used his position on marijuana to his great advantage. Along with his alleged love of surfing, the pro-pot stance makes him sound progressive, cool, hip, down, dope, wavy. Pick a positive adjective—any positive adjective—and it applies here. And the problem (a HUGE problem) is that a large number of people don’t pay attention to politics. So when they enter the voting booth, they know Rohrabacher solely as the guy who tokes up and surfs. Which, for many, is quite appealing.
B. The bullshit here is that Rohrabacher isn’t solely for toking up and surfing. He’s stridently pro-life, anti-environment, anti-helping the poor, anti-immigrant. He’s also full of crap when it comes to the whole “states rights” thing. Yeah, it’s a “states rights” issue when marijuana is in play. But abortion? Death penalty? Clean air and water? With those (and many more), he’s all for federal intrusion.
C. You know what kills me? K-i-l-l-s me? Guys like Dana Rohrabacher find their progressive innards when it directly impacts their happiness. Example: Dick Cheney was pro-gay rights … because he has a lesbian daughter. And Rohrabacher is pro-medical marijuana because he has arthritis, and he was unable to surf for several years, so the smoking helped relieve the pain. It’s infuriating. Were his wife a Mexican immigrant, he’d be pro-immigration. Were his children gay, he’d be pro-gay rights. Had he grown up in a poverty-stricken public school, he’d be urging funding left and right. It’s Hypocrisy 101, and it never grows stale.
D. The challenge for the Democrats, entering 2018, is to define Dana Rohrabacher for who he truly is. He’s excellent at setting the narrative and making himself appear to be what he’s not. “Hey, I’m one of you, fellas. Let’s spark up and talk waves …”
Yes, he smokes pot.
Yes, he surfs.
No, he’s not one of us.