For those of us with our eyes on the cultural paradigm, the flurry of votes to legalize marijuana and gay marriage in certain states in November 2012 was devastating.

Overshadowed by the re-election of President Obama they may have been, but their impact on the cultural exceptionalism and direction of America was equally impactful and profound.

Specifically, the move to legalize marijuana in both Colorado and Washington State had self-confessed culture warriors and traditionalists ill to their stomach. For the first time since cannabis prohibition began 75 years ago, people will not be arrested or incarcerated for recreational use of marijuana, and prosecutors in Washington and Colorado have announced that they are dropping cases against people for marijuana possession, effective immediately. Wow.

The “dope push” drives a deep division in the already often fragile Reagan coalition of libertarians and conservatives. And it reveals startling cultural similarities between strange bedfellows; the libertarian and the leftist. As one lady friend put it to me recently: “Have you noticed that they (libertarians and leftists) often look the same, dress the same, present the same, engage in similar social activity and love social media?”

A belief in limited government and the individual over the collective is as American as apple pie. But so is cultural conservatism. Of its many elements, American exceptionalism is perhaps best defined by it being the most moralistic nation of the world. Who could forget de Tocqueville surmising: “America is great because America is good. If America ceases to be good, she will cease to be great?”

There was a time in America (not so long ago) where the prospect of legalizing marijuana or heroin or any such substance would be greeted with instant dismissal and genuine outrage. Among the countless reasons for such a reaction, one would immediately top the list: our children. They must be protected.
As my friend, Bill O’Reilly puts it, “a sane society does not put a happy face on inebriation.
I do not know a single parent who does not daily pray or fervently hope their children about avoid drugs and alcohol. I cannot conceive a parent that does not forcefully instruct, or at least loudly warn their children of the dangers of substance abuse.

Libertarians with their eyes narrowly fixed on the government paradigm see it as a freedom issue. Leftists see it as a convenient opportunity to attract revenue through a tax, and provide them with even more scope to continue their out-of-control spending.

Pragmatism and fiscal responsibility, the much vaunted arguments in favor, are outweighed by the message of acceptance sent by any such legalization. It’s the principle, stupid.
Sixty eight percent of people who become addicted to drugs begin with marijuana. Unprecedented numbers of teenagers are smoking pot daily. Do we want our roads and workplaces full of people that are drugged? Do we want our schools teaching students who are under the influence? Would we like our neighbors growing and selling it, and all the undesirable consequences it may bring? Is the distance of a harder substance such as heroin at least halved with the legalization of cannabis?

Surely we must encourage our young through our actions that an active, alert mind and body yields the greatest productivity? Surely we must direct our children to seek stimulation, support and motivation through faith, family and community?

Surely we prefer our society to be intoxicated by their religion, patriotism, employment, patriotism, and sense of self rather than such substances?
Even if marijuana is the harmless health diversion that the media and others would have us believe (and I do not believe this), it’s consequences culturally and socially are gravely harmful. It’s not worth the cost.

As a conservative, I believe in good, strong, constitutionally-limited government. I do not believe that the Federal Controlled Substance Act which renders the cultivation, processing, transportation and use of marijuana illegal should be undermined by states, even though they have the right to.

And I believe in faith, flag, community and neighborhood. And drugs from marijuana to heroin to ice have no place on our streets. The use of them aren’t God’s best. They aren’t our best. And they’re not the country’s best.
Stay classy, America.