March 3rd, 2016
It looks increasingly as though Donald Trump will become the Republican candidate. And some reputable analysts then favor him to become president.
It’s enough to keep anyone awake at night.
So what would a Trump presidency look like from the standpoint of drug policy?
First, let’s consider what we know about Trump’s attitudes towards substance use and drug policy:
**Donald Trump has never consumed alcohol or taken drugs in his life. “Just like the 43rd President of the United States, George W. Bush, Donald Trump does not drink alcohol. But, unlike President Bush, Trump never drank alcohol.” This may be due to his older brother’s early death due to alcoholism.
**Trump furthermore says that his three adult children have never drunk alcohol or taken drugs—he wouldn’t let them. “Trump claims he has never had an alcoholic drink or a cigarette in his life, and encourages his kids to avoid alcohol and cigarettes. When people ask Ivanka why she never went to wild parties there’s a simple explanation: ‘I think the difference is we wouldn’t be allowed to. [It’s] really as simple as that.’ ‘It’s not an option for us,’ agreed Donald Jr.”
**Trump says that building a big wall along the Mexican border will prevent drugs “flooding into” the US. He’s wrong about this, of course. He also plans to rely on a militaristic, police model to round up undocumented Latinos, going door to door to extricate them from their homes.
**Trump was at one time for drug legalization; he now opposes it. As with abortion et al., Trump seems eager to backtrack on liberal positions he once took. What is unique about Trump is how he backdates his current positions. Remember, he calls Ted Cruz a liar and threatened to sue him for saying that Trump has ever backed abortion rights—a position he earlier took in videotaped interviews. Here is how Trump deals currently with drug legalization, demonstrating that he has moved in precisely the opposite direction to many politicians:
Q: A lot of talk about addiction on the campaign trail lately, especially up in New Hampshire. You used to think that legalization, taking the profit out, would solve that problem. What changed your mind?
TRUMP: Well, I did not think about it, I said it’s something that should be studied and maybe should continue to be studied. But it’s not something I’d be willing to do right now. I think it’s something that I’ve always said maybe it has to be looked at because we do such a poor job of policing. We don’t want to build walls. We don’t want to do anything. And if you’re not going to want to do the policing, you’re going to have to start thinking about other alternatives. But it’s not something that I would want to do. [My italics. Source: ABC This Week, Nov. 8 interview by Martha Raddatz.]
Second, let’s think about how Trump deals with people who oppose him:
**It isn’t difficult for Trump to completely vitiate any organization or policy because it violates his current political ideology. Although pundits have noted Trump says positive things about Planned Parenthood (“they do good work for cervical and breast cancer”), he now ends his discussions of PP by saying that, since they back abortion, he would defund the organization entirely.
**Trump will say anything about his opponents, and likewise sic the full wrath of his millions of followers on those who criticize him. See: “Trump Intimidates Critics by Riling Up Twitter Followers.”
**Trump isn’t bashful about power-grabs. In his current stump speech, in addition to bashing Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, Trump says he will modify libel protections so that he can sue the media for lying about him. He regularly attacks the judge supervising the class action lawsuit against Trump University and New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman, who declared the university a scam. Trump claims they are politically motivated, biased against him, and suggests the possibility that he will punish them if he becomes president.
Finally, given his attitudes and personal disposition, consider the following possible nightmarish scenarios after Trump becomes POTUS in January 2017:
**President Trump declares, “Expand the War on Drugs!” Since he believes drug use is antithetical to the American dream, as well as its being personally repugnant to him, Trump has illegal drug users rounded up—with the use of torture as needed to encourage informants—for mass incarceration. “What do you think the Chinese do to people who use drugs? And they’re eating our lunch, taking all our jobs and killing us in trade.”
**President Trump revokes state marijuana legalization—“What kind of losers sit around smoking pot?” Reversing liberalization of America’s attitudes towards weed, Trump orders enforcement of federal anti-marijuana statutes in states like Colorado, Washington and (by then) California. Law enforcement agencies under Trump crack down in coordinated raids on marijuana dispensaries and users around the country.
**President Trump mandates that addiction treatment insist on total abstinence in all cases. “If my children and I can do it, why can’t everyone?” And for those who fail at enforced abstinence, well, there’s plenty more room in those expanded prisons. “I’d fire anyone who worked for me who used drugs, even on weekends. We can’t make America great again if people are using drugs.”
**President Trump has the US Attorney General bring charges of endangering public health, conspiracy to commit drug trafficking, and treason against drug policy reformers. Claiming that the Drug Policy Alliance and similar organizations are encouraging illicit drug use, and that, “Without question, illegal drug use funds overseas terrorism,” President Trump orders the US Attorney General to prosecute reform groups under a variety of federal laws.
**President Trump also tells his greatly expanded and empowered DEA to raid and threaten anyone who endorses drug legalization. Following a series of Tweets, beginning with, “Anyone who thinks drugs are okay isn’t a true American,” President Trump sics his large, militarized army of agents on people who express drug policy reform views, resulting in Drug War opponents being silenced.
**President Trump uses the specter of drug smuggling to aid his efforts to deport millions of Latinos. In line with this new militant opposition to drug use and scapegoating of drugs, and consistent with his accusations that immigrants bring drugs with them, Trump shows that his Mexican Wall readily swings open the other way so that masses of people can be thrown out of the country.
What’s that? You think there’s some limit to what a President Trump might do in response to those who displease or oppose him?
Now what exactly about Trump or his presidential campaign would give you that idea?
Stanton Peele is a columnist for The Influence. His latest book, with Ilse Thompson, is Recover!: An Empowering Program to Help You Stop Thinking Like an Addict and Reclaim Your Life. He has been at the cutting-edge of addiction theory and practice since writing, with Archie Brodsky, Love and Addiction in 1975. He has since written numerous other books and developed the online Life Process Program. His website is Peele.net. Dr. Peele has won career achievement awards from the Rutgers Center of Alcohol Studies and the Drug Policy Alliance. You can follow him on Twitter: @.