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January 25, 2006 - Daily Campus (CT Edu)

A Greener Side Of Politics

By Steven Durel

Return to Drug War News: Don't Miss Archive

I staggered into Denny's on the warm Friday morning of Jan. 20 choking on Silas Dean Highway's fumes and searching crowded booths for the man I had written to -- Connecticut's Green Party gubernatorial candidate Cliff Thornton (Founder & Director of Efficacy). The big guy was at a window in the corner perusing some documents. Among stock traders and truck drivers we discussed politics and narcotics over pancakes.

DC: Why are you running for Governor of Connecticut, and why as a Green?

CT: If one does not understand racism, classism, white privilege, terrorism and the War on Drugs - what these terms mean, how these concepts work - then everything else you do understand will only confuse you. I feel that the War on Drugs is at the center of most problems and is two degrees from everything in our society. No candidates talk about it, except for being "tough on crime" and that's it. The Green Party has been asking me to run for years, so I thought that this was a prime opportunity to expose the problem.

I am running to be a voice for people who want change. I'm interested in attracting the tens of thousands who have dropped out and aren't even registered to vote. I want to leave an impression. The Green Party has stated it is looking to get 1 percent of the vote, but I am interested in getting 5 percent to 10 percent. I think that's possible, but it'll be very important to energize students at the major universities, people who are going to have a very hard time finding employment in this state soon.

DC: You've called for Connecticut to follow Rhode Island in permitting medicinal marijuana. What are your opinions on other drugs, and what inspired your conclusions?

CT: It's been a long journey, one that began two weeks before I was to graduate high school when there was a knock at the door and my grandmother told me to accompany a police detective to a field of abandoned cars. In one of those cars was the body of a naked woman - my mother - who had died from an apparent heroin overdose. There are no thoughts to describe how I felt after that, except that all illegal drugs should be eradicated from the face of the earth.

Yet, as I watched my native Hartford going downhill decade after decade, I began to question what authorities were doing. Eventually I met these two surgeons at Hartford Hospital in the late 1970s/early 1980s and told them about my mother. They said that they used heroin to steady their nerves for surgeries. Obviously surgery is complicated and, in order to stay steady, they used pharmaceutical heroin and didn't become addicted.

DC: There seems to be many contradictions in drug laws. Even though medical-marijuana is permitted in 11 states, the federal government still considers it illegal inside U.S. borders. Colorado is a medical-marijuana state, but their police have arrested Denver citizens even after a referendum made small quantities of pot permissible in that city.

CT: Right, Denver decriminalized it, which is different from medicalization and legalization. Most people use these terms interchangeably, but they mean different things. In Denver, if you possess more than a decriminalized amount, you're breaking the law. Medicalization means putting something under the control of doctors and legalization would be something like cigarettes or alcohol.

I advocate outright legalization of marijuana and hemp. I want to see marijuana, alcohol and cigarettes all being sold at a single place to limit children's access-the proper age being 18. I want to see heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and ecstasy medicalized. I want to see other illegal drugs decriminalized and debated publicly.

DC: I've read that you used to be a businessman.

CT: I worked with Southern New England Telephone for 20 years in middle management, in charge of internal telecommunications.

DC: How do you view the relationship between government and the marketplace?

CT: I believe in free trade. I believe all markets should be open, but there have to be restrictions to let the little guy compete. Major corporations can implement restrictions to cut out small competition and absorb profits. We have five corporations that basically own print media in this country, which causes pretty myopic news. Another example is the telephone companies where, after there was some divestiture, littler businesses had grown. Eventually, though, those with the largest coffers came to completely control the telecommunications industry. Our country once fought off monopolies and we need to do it again. In order to go back to that, there needs to be divestiture.

DC: So what is the underlying problem facing our society?

CT: We have been lulled to sleep. The authorities orchestrate fear campaigns, terrorize the populace and make people believe everything that they hear. You have to understand that the drug wars are built on three phenomena: greed, racism and fear. It's a perfectly volatile mixture and most people are just too busy working to contemplate or challenge it. We are given a simple equation -- On one side we have drug dealers and cartels, on the other side we have the authorities -- bureaucracies of law enforcement, courts and prisons. Supposedly both sides are diametrically opposed to each other, yet both are completely against what I advocate. What's wrong with that picture?

DC: Well, the paramount concept in political philosophy seems to be individual versus collective interests -- liberal against conservative, libertarian against populist, capitalist against communist, anarchist against fascist. What are your thoughts on the principle dynamics of that relationship?

CT: Diversity is our strength. Out of all the groups, Democrats and Republicans are the ones in power. What we need is another voice because Democrats and Republicans espouse the same values and do not effectively address public concerns. They have become Republocrats like, in this state, Joe Lieberman. Having different political interests is a good thing, but when two factions remain securely in power it becomes a lot harder to get things done.

Elections only uphold fairness when individuals have the liberty to express authentic beliefs. When free choice is inhibited, the inner workings of government become corrupted and cancerous. Third parties are blamed for Bush's rise to power, despite him actually losing the 2000 election and winning an entire majority in 2004. Independents will forever ignore denigration and continue supporting people like Ralph Nader, Michael Badnarik, Pat Buchanan and Ross Perot because they symbolize a third way in politics - ballots of rebellion cast against stagnant duopoly. For his part, Cliff Thornton isn't offering Connecticut a winning ticket, only a sincere rally for democracy and freedom.

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