Purists Gone Wild

This is a pretty interesting perspective on the parallels from the political environment that preceded Prohibition to today’s environment Purists Gone Wild: Prohibition, Revisited? – NYTimes.com.

The “other” parallel from the dry years concerns personal liberties. With the 18th Amendment, the prohibitionists took away the right to make a basic choice. Gov. Rick Perry, now leading the Republican polls for president, has vowed to do the same, promising to amend the Constitution in several ways to take away freedoms. One would prevent gays from ever getting married. Another would outlaw a woman’s right to decide when to end a pregnancy. A third would repeal the 17th Amendment, which gives citizens the right to directly elect their senators.

Could any of this happen? It did, with Prohibition — the urge to dictate the private actions of citizens is a character trait that has never left the American gene pool.

The author refers to the monomaniacal anti-tax pressure groups and the necessity for Republican political aspirants to pledge their fealty to Grover Norquist which is all well and good but doesn’t ring quite as true to the run up to Prohibition as some of his other points.  A little discussion about the healthcare mandates and Republican resistance to mandatory coverage would have made this article a bit more balanced.

Hopefully other similarities to the early 20th century will not be replicated in this century.  If they do, we are in for a long 30 years, and we can all look forward to a couple of world wars which bookend a depression.

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