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Newt Gingrich - The Relentless Crusader

By Becky Stewart, Prisoner of the Drug War

Newt Gingrich . . . I'm sure we have all heard of the Republican leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, who has declared war on South Florida and other ports of entry and promises to finally win the "war on drugs" and "create a drug free America by the year 2002." Wake up Newt, we are mid-year 1998, and yet you are proposing to clean illegal drugs out of America within four years"something every politician promises in his campaign since this senseless war on drugs began decades ago.

Instead of initiating or proposing alternative methods of stopping drug abuse and drug trafficking, the Republican Party, with Newt as their fearless (and commonsense-less) leader, persist on wearing blinders. They echo past campaign speeches and maintain that with more anti-drug resources; agent detectors, X-ray machines, etc., they could bring this drug war to an end.

House leaders introduced an omnibus anti-drug bill which would authorize $933 million nationwide, a 27% increase over President Clinton's budget request of $17 billion. If, in fact, this omnibus bill passes, and because it is an election year is likely, Newt's Republican proposal will not only affect South Florida, but it will also have a devastating effect on the world.

The bill would ease the process of background checks into travelers, more government intrusion into the lives of private citizens and tourists; spend millions of dollars on mobile X-ray trucks and devices that they hope would curtail smuggling; add more agents and intelligence analysts to the bloated government payroll; expand the Custom's; give grants to small business so that employers can demand urine of their employees; add penalties for travelers who balk when custom's officers order them to strip for body cavity searches; build fences around our country; and enhance technology that can be used to defoliate the planet.

If intrusions, environmental toxins and a furthering police state were not enough, the bill would also restrict student loans to young people who were convicted of drug possession. We all know that we may educate our children against drugs and hope that they will never try them, but statistics after statistics reflect, most children and teenagers will experiment.

To illustrate the folly, I will use a hypothetical, but common situation: A teenager is caught in possession of a small quantity of marijuana. Under Newt's proposal, this teenager will never have the opportunity to be granted a student loan. In essence, this young adult will never have the opportunity to better himself and further educate himself because of one mistake he made as a teenager. Is this a commonsense approach to this drug war? Is this fair to our children?

Newt has also called for a life imprisonment penalty for trafficking in methamphetamine. Have you noticed the trend? Politicians single out a certain drug every election year. Last election cycle it was crack cocaine. This election year methamphetamine will take the prize. Whether it be crack cocaine, powder cocaine, marijuana, or methamphetamineisn't life imprisonment another commonsense-less approach to this drug war?

Already there are many parents serving life sentences under the current sentencing procedures for nonviolent drug offenses. Children cannot understand these lengthy sentences that keep them separated from their mothers and fathers when they know their parents have not committed murder or other violent offenses. Are these life sentences fair to our children? Is justice served, or politicians? Newt knows the answer.

My grandfather (who is now 87 years old) was a staunch Republican voter for decades, but Mr. Gingrich has made him ashamed to admit it. Last year, my grandfather, who is in total control of his faculties, voted the Libertarian Party trying to rectify his past mistakes. At least my grandfather admits to his mistakes, whereas Newt cannot admit that the tactics employed thus far on this war on drugs has failed.

Isn't it about time, Mr. Gingrich, to admit that a new approach is needed in this drug war, and that incarcerating mothers and fathers for the rest of their lives isn't the answer? Ask the children, Newt, and hear what they say. After all, they are our future, if you allow them to have one!

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