Reader’s Forum after the call

On Sunday, Politics for the People spent an hour with Lisa McGirr, the author of The War on Alcohol: Prohibition and the Rise of the American State.  It was a very thought provoking conversation and we will posting highlights from the conference call in a few days.

Steve Hough is a P4P member from Florida. Steve is a retired accountant and a lifelong independent who is an activist in the movement for Top Two nonpartisan elections. Steve sent us his thoughts and some questions that he is mulling off the call.


I really enjoyed the book and last night’s call.
The book was very informative. Before reading it, I had no idea of the role vigilantes played in enforcement efforts, that the KKK had quasi-legal status, or thought much about unequal enforcement. Also, even though I have read “In His Steps” a couple of times, I somehow never made the connection that prohibition was the result of “progressive” reform.
Last night’s call covered several points well- the beginning of an expansive role for the federal government, the difficulty of turning back the clock, and vested interests in maintaining the status quo. It was discussed how the “war on drugs”, supplanted prohibition of alcohol and the interests of the prison industrial complex.
Our hour went by quickly, but I wanted to ask Lisa to talk a little bit about how her work also relates to the military industrial complex (a more “liberal” concern) and other federal government agencies which our more “conservative” friends are so concerned about. And, if abortion were again illegal, would not Donald Trump have been technically correct? Just as drug users and dealers are subject to prosecution, would not both the abortion doctor and the woman having had an abortion be at risk of prosecution?
Again, great call.”

Founder of the Politics for the People free educational series and book club for independent voters. Chair of the New York County Independence Party.

One thought on “Reader’s Forum after the call

  1. Hi, Cathy. I just read a great article in Harper’s magazine about legalization that begins with this:

    At the time, I was writing a book about the politics of drug prohibition. I started to ask Ehrlichman a series of earnest, wonky questions that he impatiently waved away. “You want to know what this was really all about?” he asked with the bluntness of a man who, after public disgrace and a stretch in federal prison, had little left to protect. “The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. You understand what I’m saying? We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course we did.”

    I’m sure Lisa knows of the author but do not recall specific reference to him or to this story. Too bad I did not see it before our call; could have woven it into the discussion.


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