I haven’t posted about this in years past, though to be fair I haven’t really partaken of alcoholic beverages as much in more recent years. But today is the day that the Twenty-First Amendment of the US Constitution was passed, repealing the Eighteenth Amendment which established Prohibition. Or, as some call it, simply “Repeal Day.”
Thankfully we have learned in more recent years that the Constitution is just not the place for this kind of fleeting, knee-jerk reactions to the social mores of the time. It is a huge pain in the ass to pass a Constitutional amendment, and just as big to pass another one to repeal it if it turns out to be a mistake.
I’m going to try to find an appropriate time today to drink from my rather small stock of alcoholic beverages (an unopened bottle of wine from a couple of years ago, and two stronger-than-average “Double IPA” cans of beer). If you don’t drink alcohol–and I know there are a few of you out there–you can celebrate freedom of choice instead, however you choose. In a broader sense that’s really what the Twenty-First Amendment was about, though it was also about ending a policy that was in effect “dead on arrival.”
The Wikipedia article “Prohibition in the United States” describes how Prohibition came to be to begin with. And, unfortunately, not much has changed today: faith-based organizations and movements haven’t tried to ban alcohol in most locales, but have turned instead to other things like abortion and school curricula.
This quote from the above article is of particular note, as there is a direct parallel to what is happening with drug prohibition today:
In October 1930, just two weeks before the congressional midterm elections, bootlegger George Cassiday—”the man in the green hat”—came forward and told how he had bootlegged for ten years for members of Congress. One of the few bootleggers ever to tell his story, Cassiday wrote five front-page articles for The Washington Post, in which he estimated that 80% of congressmen and senators drank. The Democrats in the North were mostly wets, and in the 1932 election, they made major gains. The wets argued that prohibition was not stopping crime, and was actually causing the creation of large-scale, well-funded and well-armed criminal syndicates. As Prohibition became increasingly unpopular, especially in urban areas, its repeal was eagerly anticipated.
Indeed, George Santayana was spot on: “Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” As it looks like we are doing just that (repeating the past) regarding drug prohibition. Outlawing alcoholic beverages didn’t work then, and outlawing drugs (a.k.a. the “War on Some Drugs”) hasn’t worked in modern times.