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Vice and Morality Laws

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The philosophy of natural rights and the consent of the governed forms the bedrock of republican government. This theory presupposes a universal moral equality, making popular government not only politically possible but also morally necessary.

Vice and morality laws (I call them "prohibition laws") are those laws that criminalize (or legalize) specific actions that are designed to govern behaviors related to morality, ethics, and social norms. These laws often address activities that are considered harmful, immoral, or socially unacceptable.

Let's take a look at how each political party views vice and morality laws:


Republicans on Vice and Morality Laws

"Our Constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other." - John Adams
A significant portion of the Republican Party base is religiously (Christian) conservative, so their views on vice and morality laws often stem from their religious teachings. Republicans also often emphasize personal responsibility and self-discipline and believe that individuals should make virtuous choices without relying on government intervention. However, when they perceive a threat to societal well-being, they may support legislation to curb vices.

"And all the shouting voices try to throw me off my course, some by sermon, some by force."

Many Republicans emphasize traditional values and advocate for laws that align with their moral beliefs. For example, opposition to same-gender marriage, to abortion, and to certain recreational activities is common among socially conservative Republicans. While they claim to favor limited government intervention, they sometimes make exceptions when it comes to moral issues arguing that certain vices can harm society and individuals, thereby justifying government regulation. To that end, they often support legislation that restricts behaviors they consider immoral, such as gambling, drug use, or pornography.

"Fools and thieves are dangerous in the temple and marketplace."

Republicans generally prioritize states’ rights over federal intervention. Thus, they argue that decisions related to vice and morality laws should be made at the state level, allowing each state to tailor its regulations based on local values. Some Republicans focus on the adverse economic impact of vices. For instance, they may support alcohol or tobacco regulations due to health care costs associated with substance abuse.


Democrats on Vice and Morality Laws

"Moral values? You mean like war, greed, corruption, dishonesty, intolerance, and fear-mongering?"

Democrats’ views on vice and morality laws span a spectrum, reflecting their commitment to civil liberties, social justice, and public health. Democrats tend to approach vices from a public health perspective. Rather than punitive measures, they may advocate for harm reduction strategies, addiction treatment, and education. For example, they support needle exchange programs and rehabilitation services for substance abuse.

"And all the preaching voices, empty vessels, ring so loud as they move among the crowd."

Some Democrats align with progressive values, emphasizing social justice and equality and may view morality laws as disproportionately affecting marginalized communities and perpetuating systemic inequalities. These laws may infringe upon personal liberties including those related to sexual orientation, to reproductive rights, and to privacy. For instance, Democrats generally support access to contraception, abortion rights, and LGBTQ+ rights.

"Fools and thieves are well disguised in the temple and marketplace."

While Democrats value personal freedom, they also recognize the need to balance individual rights with societal well-being. Therefore, some may support regulations to protect public health, safety, and community standards, but finding this balance can be complex and context-dependent.


Libertarians on Vice and Morality Laws

"The government can legislate morality about as well as it legislates prosperity."

Libertarians believe that vice and morality laws are crafted pieces of legislation specifically designed to accomplish one singular result: turn ordinary citizens into criminals.

"Like a stone in the river against the floods of spring, I will quietly resist."

We refer to people who have run afoul of these laws as having committed a "victimless crime", or a crime in which no one other than the individual (and sometimes not even them) was harmed, threatened, or even inconvenienced (i.e., there was no "victim" of the crime). For instance:

  • Any law criminalizing cannabis possession (not using it, simply having it) are just as ridiculous as would be any law criminalizing the possession of potpourri or mulch.
  • There are no laws prohibiting sex acts between consenting adults … unless there is an exchange of money.
  • Speaking of exchanges of money, betting on a March Madness bracket or a Super Bowl pool at work may technically be against the law, but I seriously doubt that the local constabulary are going to show up at your office and start carting you and your co-workers down to the hoosegow because of it.

"Like a flower in the desert that only blooms at night, I will quietly resist."

As Texans, I believe that we should be setting an example for the rest of the country to follow. As long as they don't harm anyone else, we should allow anyone and everyone the ability to pursue life, liberty and happiness as they see fit without interference from the government. If we truly wish to embody the liberty and freedom that we have been taught that America is supposed to represent to the rest of the world, The Texans should state unequivocally that such authoritarianism has no place in Texas.

We need to be better.


The Old Parties' Moral Compass is Broken

One of the problems that I perceive is that the Republican Party, once associated with “traditional values,” has seemingly lost track of its moral compass. In recent times, it has taken actions that challenge its own reputation, opting for strategies that aim to retake the moral high ground by any means necessary.

A study conducted during the 2016 U.S. presidential election revealed that voters on both sides of the political spectrum tended to adjust their perceptions of their chosen political leaders to more closely align with their own moral beliefs. Interestingly, Republicans, but not Democrats, appeared to revise their own moral beliefs to reduce incongruities with then-candidate Donald Trump. This phenomenon highlights how voters often follow their party’s leaders, even when it comes to morality, which is typically assumed to be more stable and influential in shaping political preferences.

"I've got my own moral compass to steer by, a guiding start beats a spirit in the sky."

Alternately, the Democratic Party navigates a complex landscape where moral values intersect with policy decisions. Their approach reflects the diversity of their constituents and the ever-evolving social context. Historically, the Democratic Party has been a broad coalition that includes people of various religious backgrounds and moral perspectives. Some Democrats emphasize social justice, compassion, and inclusivity, while others prioritize individual liberty and personal responsibility.

The party’s stance on issues like gay rights, abortion, and religious freedom has evolved over time. For instance, there has been ongoing debate within the Democratic Party about how to incorporate religious language in appealing ways into their party platform. Democrats face the challenge of balancing diverse values within their party. As they currently hold a somewhat unified control in Washington, they must address the delicate balance between progressive ideals and pragmatic governance.

"I've got my own spirit level for balance to tell if my choice is leaning up or down."


Some of my opinions regarding vice and morality (i.e. prohibition) laws:


Committee to Elect Darren Hamilton
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