On this day in 1933, the Blaine Act was passed — named after Senator John J Blaine. It was the law that started the process that ended in the Twenty-First Amendment later that year. And that was a repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, ratified almost 15 years earlier. We are, of course, talking about Prohibition.
Here’s something: Prohibition was basically a liberal idea. People saw a real social problem with alcohol. And remember: the way people drink now is really quite moderate compared to the way they used to drink. And then, as now, alcohol led to all kinds of violence — especially domestic violence. The idea of Prohibition was a well-intentioned liberal idea.
What’s happened over the last century is that liberals have realized the limits of creating a perfect society. Conservatives have not. At the same time, conservatives continue to think that liberals are the ones who want a nanny state. But what are liberals actually asking for? Universal healthcare; a strong safety net; a humble foreign policy. It’s the conservatives who want to treat the poor as though they are school children who need to be proctored. It’s the conservatives who think that without government intervention, women will have abortions at eight months. Basically, it is conservatives who have utopian ideas.
Liberals continue to stands for our Constitution that’s stated intent is to make a “more perfect” union, not a perfect one. Of course, it isn’t all Republicans. We are talking mostly about conservative voters who are one of the most meddlesome groups of people on the planet. The Republican establishment doesn’t care what the people do, as long as they don’t start demanding things like fair pay and equal rights.
Still, it is amazing how quickly Prohibition died. It reminds me of the line about bankruptcy: slowly then suddenly. Of course, we learned only that one lesson from Prohibition: that we shouldn’t outlaw alcohol. We’ve destroyed many millions of lives by prohibiting other substances that people enjoy putting in their bodies.