More Voices: Our Two Party System Is Failing

The following post originally appeared on Medium.

I got an email the other day from Penn Jillette, a dear friend of mine, asking me to consider adding my name to a growing list of individuals endorsing the Johnson/Weld ticket for 2016. I have considered it, but have decided against it for a couple of reasons.

First, I’m not sure anyone needs another voice in their ear telling them how to vote. Second, even if I were, I’m still looking for my candidate. Governor Johnson may end up getting my vote, but I won’t be making an endorsement. I can’t imagine Governor Johnson will be losing any sleep over it. Considering how hard his campaign is courting disgruntled Bernie supporters, my endorsement may be the kiss death.

The fact of the matter is that I have endorsed only one candidate in my many years of public life. That candidate, as you know, was Senator Ted Cruz. Senator Ted Cruz is someone with whom I share bedrock principles and values. Additionally, as a Senator from the great state of Texas, he is someone I had the opportunity to get to know on a personal level. And, although he wasn’t a “perfect” candidate — I accept that he comes off as a bit (a lot?) stiff — the more I got to know Senator Cruz, the more I liked and respected him. The Senator is a good man who cares deeply about this country. He is a true-blue constitutional conservative. But don’t take my word for it — do your own homework.

As host of a nationally syndicated talk radio show, more often than not, I have some limited personal interaction with candidates for president who are campaigning to win the support of my audience. Naturally, my personal experiences influence my opinion. Governor Johnson is no exception. We had him on the show last month; it wasn’t exactly his best work. My biggest issue with Governor Johnson is that I don’t think he trusts the people enough. I have concerns with the Libertarian Ticket’s view on several issues, the most notable being abortion. But I also agree with many of its positions. I personally go back and forth between calling myself a Libertarian, Constitutional Conservative and a Classical Liberal. The net of my belief system: abide by the Constitution and leave each other alone. Governor Johnson certainly gets closer to that than the respective nominees of the two major parties.

RELATED: Can #NeverTrump and #NeverHillary Voters Get Behind Gary Johnson?

Though I will not be endorsing the Libertarian Ticket (I don’t plan on endorsing anyone this election cycle), I do believe it is important that more voices are heard. One of my hopes earlier this year was for a Senator Ted Cruz vs. Bernie Sanders general election, and not (only) because I’m a strong supporter of Senator Cruz. I loved the idea of having two consistent and starkly contrasted ideological directions for the future of America: Limited Government and Maximum Personal Liberty and Responsibility or Maximum Government and Limited Personal Liberty and Responsibility. This is the debate I wish we were having as a nation.

Instead, we have two candidates whose positions are almost impossible to define. On foreign policy, Hillary Clinton is to the right of Donald Trump. On trade, Donald Trump is to the left of Hillary Clinton. Even setting aside my opinion of their respective principles and values, the choice for our country is far from black and white. It feels as if up is left and down is black. I believe having a few more voices in the debates is a great idea, especially if those voices are more ideologically coherent than those of our major party candidates.

I do not know how to achieve the right balance between the competing, legitimate interests of setting the stage for productive debate vs. greater inclusivity. But I think it is important to show the American electorate that there are other viewpoints and other options. The two party system is incapable of adequately serving all of the shades of gray that exist in our country. It’s producing far more losers than it is winners. The concept of a big tent party may not be over forever, but it is certainly on hiatus.

I do hope that enough people will come out in the polling to get Gov. Johnson (and possibly Ms. Stein as well) into the debates. The more voices, perspectives, and choices (within reason — a 12-candidate debate is not conducive to productive debate (see Republican primary) the better for our country during these, shall we say, interesting (and frightening) times.

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Barack Obama promised to radically transform the United States, and he did to an extent. But he dropped the radical posse and surrounded himself with people from within the system --- like the Clintons -- once he was elected.

But that's not what presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has in mind. He's no Swedish-style socialist. He's a radical, revolutionary communist who has surrounded himself and his campaign with people who openly advocate for Marxism and even support authoritarian governments.

On Wednesday's radio program, Glenn Beck broke down the biggest differences between former President Obama and highlighted just how dangerous Comrade Sanders' vision for America's future really is.

Watch the video below:



Don't miss Glenn Beck's special, "Bernie's Radicals: The Fires of Revolution," exposing the radicals who are running Bernie Sanders' campaign. From top to bottom, his campaign is staffed with hard-left extremists who are eager to burn down the system. The threat to our constitution is very real from Bernie's team, and it's unlike anything we've ever seen before in a U.S. election. Join Glenn on Wednesday, at 9 PM Eastern on BlazeTV's YouTube page, and on BlazeTV.com. And just in case you miss it live, the only way to catch all of Glenn's specials on-demand is by subscribing to Blaze TV.

Use code GLENN to save $10 off one year of BlazeTV.

The number of people serving life sentences now exceeds the entire prison population in 1970, according to newly-released data from the Sentencing Project. The continued growth of life sentences is largely the result of "tough on crime" policies pushed by legislators in the 1990s, including presidential candidate Joe Biden.

Biden has since apologized for backing those types of policies, but it seems he has yet to learn his lesson. Indeed, Biden is backing yet another criminal justice policy with disastrous consequences—mandatory drug treatment for all drug offenders.

Proponents of this policy argue that forced drug treatment will reduce drug usage and recidivism and save lives. But the evidence simply isn't on their side. Mandatory treatment isn't just patently unethical, it's also ineffective—and dangerous.

Many well-meaning people view mandatory treatment as a positive alternative to incarceration. But there's a reason that mandatory treatment is also known as "compulsory confinement." As author Maya Schenwar asks in The Guardian, "If shepherding live human bodies off to prison to isolate and manipulate them without their permission isn't ethical, why is shipping those bodies off to compulsory rehab an acceptable alternative?" Compulsory treatment isn't an alternative to incarceration. It is incarceration.

Compulsory treatment is also arguably a breach of international human rights agreements and ethical standards. The World Health Organization (WHO) and the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) have made it clear that the standards of ethical treatment also apply to the treatment of drug dependence—standards that include the right to autonomy and self-determination. Indeed, according to UNODC, "people who use or are dependent on drugs do not automatically lack the capacity to consent to treatment...consent of the patient should be obtained before any treatment intervention." Forced treatment violates a person's right to be free from non-consensual medical treatment.

It's a useless endeavor, anyway, because studies have shown that it doesn't improve outcomes in reducing drug use and criminal recidivism. A review of nine studies, published in the International Journal of Drug Policy, failed to find sufficient evidence that compulsory drug treatment approaches are effective. The results didn't suggest improved outcomes in reducing drug use among drug-dependent individuals enrolled in compulsory treatment. However, some studies did suggest potential harm.

According to one study, 33% of compulsorily-treated participants were reincarcerated, compared to a mere 5% of the non-treatment sample population. Moreover, rates of post-release illicit drug use were higher among those who received compulsory treatment. Even worse, a 2016 report from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health found that people who received involuntary treatment were more than twice as likely to die of an opioid-related overdose than those with a history of only voluntary treatment.

These findings echo studies published in medical journals like Addiction and BMJ. A study in Addiction found that involuntary drug treatment was a risk factor for a non-fatal drug overdose. Similarly, a study in BMJ found that patients who successfully completed inpatient detoxification were more likely than other patients to die within a year. The high rate of overdose deaths by people previously involuntarily treated is likely because most people who are taken involuntarily aren't ready to stop using drugs, authors of the Addiction study reported. That makes sense. People who aren't ready to get clean will likely use again when they are released. For them, the only post-treatment difference will be lower tolerance, thanks to forced detoxification and abstinence. Indeed, a loss of tolerance, combined with the lack of a desire to stop using drugs, likely puts compulsorily-treated patients at a higher risk of overdose.

The UNODC agrees. In their words, compulsory treatment is "expensive, not cost-effective, and neither benefits the individual nor the community." So, then, why would we even try?

Biden is right to look for ways to combat addiction and drug crime outside of the criminal justice system. But forced drug treatment for all drug offenders is a flawed, unethical policy, with deadly consequences. If the goal is to help people and reduce harm, then there are plenty of ways to get there. Mandatory treatment isn't one of them.

Lindsay Marie is a policy analyst for the Lone Star Policy Institute, an independent think tank that promotes freedom and prosperity for all Texans. You can follow her on Twitter @LindsayMarieLP.

President Donald Trump's personal attorney, Rudy Giuliani joined Glenn Beck on Tuesday's radio program discuss the Senate's ongoing investigation into former vice president Joe Biden's son, Hunter Biden, and reveal new bombshell documents he's currently releasing.

Giuliani told Glenn he has evidence of "very, very serious crime at the highest levels of government," that the "corrupt media" is doing everything in their power to discredit.

He also dropped some major, previously unreported news: not only was Hunter Biden under investigation in 2016, when then-Vice President Biden "forced" the firing of Ukraine's prosecutor general Viktor Shokin, but so was the vice president himself.

"Shokin can prove he was investigating Biden and his son. And I now have the prosecutorial documents that show, all during that period of time, not only was Hunter Biden under investigation -- Joe Biden was under investigation," Giuliani explained. "It wasn't just Hunter."

Watch this clip to get a rundown of everything Giuliani has uncovered so far.

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For most Americans, the 1980s was marked by big hair, epic lightsaber battles, and school-skipping Ferris Bueller dancing his way into the hearts of millions.

But for Bernie Sanders — who, by the way, was at that time the oldest-looking 40-year-old in human history — the 1980s was a period of important personal milestones.

Prior to his successful 1980 campaign to become mayor of Burlington, Vermont, Sanders was mostly known around the Green Mountain State as a crazy, wildly idealistic socialist. (Think Karl Marx meets Don Quixote.) But everything started to change for Sanders when he became famous—or, in the eyes of many, notorious—for being "America's socialist mayor."

As mayor, Sanders' radical ideas were finally given the attention he had always craved but couldn't manage to capture. This makes this period of his career particularly interesting to study. Unlike today, the Bernie Sanders of the 1980s wasn't concerned with winning over an entire nation — just the wave of far-left New York City exiles that flooded Vermont in the 1960s and 1970s — and he was much more willing to openly align himself with local and national socialist and communist parties.


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Over the past few weeks, I have been reading news reports of Sanders recorded in the 1980s — because, you know, that's how guys like me spend their Saturday nights — and what I've found is pretty remarkable.

For starters, Sanders had (during the height of the Soviet Union) a very cozy relationship with people who openly advocated for Marxism and communism. He was an elector for the Socialist Workers Party and promoted the party's presidential candidates in 1980 and 1984.

To say the Socialist Workers Party was radical would be a tremendous understatement. It was widely known SWP was a communist organization mostly dedicated to the teachings of Marx and Leon Trotsky, one of the leaders of the Russian Revolution.

Among other radical things I've discovered in interviews Sanders conducted with the SWP's newspaper — appropriately named The Militant (seriously, you can't make this stuff up) — is a statement by Sanders published in June 1981 suggesting that some police departments "are dominated by fascists and Nazis," a comment that is just now being rediscovered for the first time in decades.

In 1980, Sanders lauded the Socialist Workers Party's "continued defense of the Cuban revolution." And later in the 1980s, Sanders reportedly endorsed a collection of speeches by the socialist Sandinistas in Nicaragua, even though there had been widespread media reports of the Sandinistas' many human rights violations prior to Sanders' endorsement, including "restrictions on free movement; torture; denial of due process; lack of freedom of thought, conscience and religion; denial of the right of association and of free labor unions."

Sanders also traveled to Nicaragua and met with socialist President Daniel Ortega. He later called the trip a "profoundly emotional experience."

Sanders also traveled to Nicaragua and met with socialist President Daniel Ortega. He later called the trip a "profoundly emotional experience."

Comrade Bernie's disturbing Marxist past, which is far more extensive than what can be covered in this short article, shouldn't be treated as a mere historical footnote. It clearly illustrates that Sanders' brand of "democratic socialism" is much more than a $15 minimum wage and calls for single-payer health care. It's full of Marxist philosophy, radical revolutionary thinking, anti-police rhetoric, and even support for authoritarian governments.

Millions of Americans have been tricked into thinking Sanders isn't the radical communist the historical record — and even Sanders' own words — clearly show that he is. But the deeper I have dug into Comrade Bernie's past, the more evident it has become that his thinking is much darker and more dangerous and twisted than many of his followers ever imagined.

Tomorrow night, don't miss Glenn Beck's special exposing the radicals who are running Bernie Sanders' campaign. From top to bottom, his campaign is staffed with hard-left extremists who are eager to burn down the system. The threat to our constitution is very real from Bernie's team, and it's unlike anything we've ever seen before in a U.S. election. Join Glenn on Wednesday, at 9 PM Eastern on BlazeTV's YouTube page, and on BlazeTV.com. And just in case you miss it live, the only way to catch all of Glenn's specials on-demand is by subscribing to Blaze TV.

Justin Haskins (Jhaskins@heartland.org) is editorial director of The Heartland Institute and editor-in-chief of StoppingSocialism.com.