Donald Trump is now calling for the execution of drug dealers and human traffickers. This is stupid and dangerous rhetoric, and is the antithesis of his supposed desire to “Make America Great Again.”
First of all, the state should not be in the business of taking the lives of its citizens. Capital punishment is applied arbitrarily and has sometimes taken the lives of innocent people. If a criminal penalty cannot be cancelled when evidence of innocence is uncovered, it should not be used. If even one innocent person has been executed by the state (in fact, there have been many), the use of capital punishment must be abolished. Regardless of popular opinion, the state has no right to deny any citizen his or her right to life. The death penalty is merely a means of creating populist retribution and is the ultimate tool of tyrants.
Secondly, when there is a demand for a product or service, people will provide them, and others will consume them, regardless of their legality. There is, and has always been, a demand for drugs ruled illegal by the United States Congress. Despite the so-called “War on Drugs,” demand and consumption has not changed because drugs are illegal. Not only has consumption not changed, but crime has increased solely due to the illegality of the substances.
In a free society, any adult should be permitted to consume any substance he or she wishes. Naturally, that person must also be held responsible for the consequences of his or her actions. Government should not be engaging is social engineering in order to create a society deemed palatable by a group of elites or a mob. Rather than ramping up the rhetoric to execute drug dealers, government should instead lift all its prohibitions of specific substances.
The same holds true for prostitution. Prostitution is said to be the “world’s oldest profession.” Despite its illegality in most jurisdictions, the practice of selling sexual favors for money persists. Social engineers have tried to reinforce the validity of making prostitution illegal by claiming most prostitutes are unwilling victims of “human traffickers.” Although this rhetoric is certainly exaggerated, exploitation of women and forced prostitution is a result of prostitution’s illegality, not its presence. In the few jurisdictions in which prostitution is legal in the United States, prostitutes voluntarily participate and are not the victims of pimps or traffickers. Pimps and human traffickers only exist because prostitution is illegal.
Just as any adult should be permitted to consume anything he or she wishes, any adult should also be permitted to voluntarily sell or purchase any service, including sex. Puritan attitudes and elite social engineering experiments are not sufficient reasons to prohibit the sale or consumption of sexual favors by consenting adults.
When crime ensues in the drug trade or around prostitution, that crime is caused by the illegality of the product or service, not the product or service itself. Drug dealers compete, often violently, for territory, and consumers sometimes steal because prices are artificially inflated due to their illegal nature. Although the incidence of human trafficking has been exaggerated, exploitation of sex workers is a result of laws prohibiting prostitution, rather than prostitution itself. The primary dangers of the profession are caused by its prohibition, not the act of selling or buying sex.
The rise in crime when the 18th Amendment outlawed alcohol in the United States led to the rise of bootleggers and crime. Alcoholic beverages were still in demand, but criminals, instead of legitimate traders, provided the product. Bootlegging aided the creation and rise of organized crime, and caused significant crime as the newly defined criminals fought for territory. Like drugs and sex, alcoholic drinks were still wanted by a significant portion of the population. Prohibition does not end the demand for the product or service it outlaws; it merely drives the industries underground. In a free society, no product or service should be denied to consenting adults.
Donald Trump is following the populist tendency to deliver dangerous rhetoric to appeal to the basest emotions of people, not their reason. Trump’s balderdash negates his supposed desire to “make America great again.” The United States was founded upon the principle of individual liberty, not governmental overreach and control. Although many people may find drug use, prostitution, or even alcohol distasteful, true freedom protects goods and activities that others despise. Trump would be far better served by studying the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the documents created during the founding of our nation than by riling up the emotions of frustrated and angry citizens. If Trump truly wanted to “make America great again,” he would embrace liberty and the founding values of our nation. Instead, like every other populist, he is creating an empty cult of personality that preys upon the fears of others. Unfortunately for our nation, cults of personality almost always result in despotism.
Government will not function correctly, nor will it regain credibility, by embracing social engineering schemes and then instituting harsh penalties against those who defy such schemes. Trump’s call to execute drug dealers and human traffickers is not only exaggerated, nonsensical blather, it is also the antithesis of truly “making America great again.” The prohibition of any substances and services desired by the populace should be repealed. The so-called “War on Drugs” has been a failure, and so have attempts to suppress prostitution. Making certain substances and services illegal does not extinguish demand. Instead, it just drives demand underground. If Trump truly wants to “make America great again,” he should be demanding more freedom, instead of more governmental control and repression.