In his second term, Obama will pivot to the drug war

Don’t expect miracles. There is very little the president can do by himself. And pot-smokers shouldn’t expect the president to come out in favor of legalizing marijuana. But from his days as a state senator in Illinois, Obama has considered the Drug War to be a failure, a conflict that has exacerbated the problem of drug abuse, devastated entire communities, changed policing practices for the worse, and has led to a generation of young children, disproportionately black and minority, to grow up in dislocated homes, or in none at all. …

Jarecki wanted to know why black people have had the roughest go of it, and how drugs and the drug war seem to feed off each other in a sort of deadly symbiosis. David Simon, the creator of The Wire, is happy to provide his answer. There’s nothing else there. The prejudicial paternalism of the New Deal ensured that blacks migrating North moved into ghettos that were subsequently redlined, making home ownership a near impossibility. Businesses moved out; the American industrial base collapsed. From door to door, from the stoop of his home to the threshold of his school, a young black man sees only the dealer, who offers him a job. Some kids can escape this reality, and a majority don’t become drug dealers, but virtually everyone who lives in an urban black neighborhood is affected by it. …

Race, however is not the primary soldering force of the Drug War. Class is. Poor whites are now (if you can believe the rhetoric) being devastated by the meth epidemic, breaking up previously intact families throughout Appalachia and the Midwest. The same language was used to describe the dangers of the marijuana culture during the 40s and the cocaine culture during the ’80s is now used to cast meth users as social deviants, and slowly, the incarnation rate of white people is inching up.