In “Notes on Democracy,” H. L. Mencken wrote: “Democracy is a pathetic belief in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.”
You’d think our 240-year-old experiment with democracy hit a rough patch this past Tuesday, or as we learned after “establishing ‘democracy’ in Iraq,” that you don’t always get the democracy you want. Oddly fitting I guess is that the President Elect ended his racist, xenophobic rallies with the Rolling Stones’ song “You Don’t Always Get What You Want.”
I say praise democracy and all of its shortcomings. We, the American voting public, had a chance to make history by electing a female president. Instead, for the first time in generations we had a racist on the presidential ballot, a racist who also happens to be a misogynist. The adage that if we elect a woman after an African-American man, we’re “losing our country” appealed (according to exit polls) to 53% of white women! That candidacy also appealed to white supremacists. And enough pluralities of voters (wins by one point or less in five crucial “battleground” states) pushed this candidate to an Electoral College victory.
Though more of us voted for the supremely qualified woman, she lost the job to the supremely unqualified man (sound familiar?). Through it all, our democracy worked. The political pros on both sides targeted the swing states to win the Electoral College vote The “voter suppression” campaign won out over the “ground game, the get out the vote” campaign. We all played by the rules and democracy prevailed. Now even though this year’s Republican candidate won the election, he received about 1.5 million votes less than the losing Republican candidate four years ago. Voters did not turn out, and that too, is our democratic right.
It is also our democratic right to make or change laws. And voters in eight states did just that regarding cannabis: Maine, Massachusetts, Nevada and California voted to join Colorado, Washington, Oregon and Alaska in repealing marijuana prohibition; Florida, North Dakota and Arkansas approved medical marijuana laws; and Montana expanded its medical marijuana program. The results mean that once all these new laws are implemented, more than a quarter of Americans aged 21+ can walk into a store and buy weed just like they go into a store and buy beer! And more than 60% of Americans will have access to medical marijuana!
Now that’s democracy I can believe in!
Editor’s note: Mr. Tilton, a longtime, strong and loud cannabis legalization activist, lost his bid for a New Hampshire State Senate seat by 12 points, 56-44, a 7-point improvement over his first bid two years ago. “Even though I lost,” he told me, “I’m now sandwiched between two legal states! Count me very bullish on the cannabis industry. The 2016 national vote shows prohibition has reached a tipping point, and the end of prohibition is nearly at hand. And on a personal level, I’m totally jazzed about my Seattle-based venture fund’s investments into cannabis-related startups!” (Mr. Tilton is also a canna-pranuer. You can check out his full_tiltON ventures website at fulltilton.com.)