Jewish World Review Dec. 2, 2002 / 27 Kislev, 5763
An issue for Bush: Drugs
http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | In his January State of the Union speech, President Bush should open a new front in his domestic agenda by issuing a strong demand for curbs on drug use in the United States, particularly among young people.
After the enactment of his tax cut and education agendas in the first year of his administration, the president has not found a big idea around which to group his domestic programs. Expanding the war on drugs to cut demand for narcotics at home could be just such an issue.
At some point, Bush will run out of countries in his war on terror. Most likely, the Iraqi situation will be well on its way to solution by the end of 2003, and the war on terror will alternate between vigorous efforts at homeland defense and busts of terrorists worldwide. Bush needs a cutting edge issue to take with him into the election of 2004. Drugs is the issue he should use.
Polls show that over 70 percent of Americans support mandatory drug testing in high schools, provided that parental consent is required. The U.S. Supreme Court has, at least partially, cleared the way for widespread drug testing by its decision this year affirming drug tests as a prerequisite for participation in any high school extra-curricular activities.
Bush should propose a national program to cut drug use, both to save a generation of American kids and to dry up funds that permit narco-terrorists to wreak havoc in the civilized world. Drug use is just the kind of good vs. evil issue at which this president excels and about which he can speak with passion and conviction. Specifically, Bush should call for:
1. A national program of mandatory, random drug testing in high schools - given prior consent by the students' parents or guardians. The consent feature is not only necessary politically, but it will also help the program pass constitutional muster. By involving parents, the schools become an arm of the family in their personal efforts to stop drugs from infecting their families;
2. Treatment and counseling for students who are using drugs along with repeated drug testing to measure their progress;
3. Tax credits for companies that institute drug testing for their employees. If the business community helps the government in drying up the market for drugs, they should get tax breaks for doing so; and
4. By drawing the link between terrorism and drugs, Bush can make the ultimate argument against drug trafficking - that it funds evil in the world and must be stopped. Bush needs to say that we must not put all our emphasis on protecting our borders and cracking drug cartels. As long as there is demand, there will be supply. We must stop subsidizing the drug lords with the money of our children.
Politically, the issue will split the Democratic Party in half. The left will be unable to endorse drug testing and the center will be unable to oppose it. Bush will have found the perfect political issue to rally his troops.
But, more to the point, he will have saved hundreds of thousands of lives, both of students who will not be ensnared with drugs and of Latin Americans who will not find their nations vandalized and, ultimately, captured by drug lords and their mercenary troops.
What better way is there to predict which kids need special help than to find out who is using drugs? By identifying these children and targeting them for 12-step anti-drug therapy, we can bring mental health and perhaps a sense of spirituality to our most disturbed young people.
The testing and counseling must not give these kids a criminal record and the police
should not have access to the information. But we should use drug testing to spot
those who need special help and get it to them before it becomes too late.
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