Democratic viewpoints on politics, policy and activism

Why the National Motto is Misguided

I have a simple request. Stop placing, “In God We Trust” on the back of your Police Vehicle.

In 2015, some police departments started putting the motto, “In God We Trust” on the back of their city’s police vehicles. This move by Police officers was met with both praise and criticism.

The critics say that it violates the separation of church and state, while supporters say that it’s our nation’s motto, and displaying it on police vehicles is patriotic.

A Sherriff from a police department in the Florida panhandle, Frank McKeithen, said in an interview with The Washington Post that he’s not trying to hide that the phrase is religious and that morals and ethics is what law enforcement is supposed to be about.

Before I get into the argument about the motto, I first want to say that Law enforcement is not about one’s personal religious morals. While our laws are based on a belief system, I would argue that that belief system does not come from religion, and it would even be dangerous if it was based on any religion at that.

Now let’s get back to the discussion at hand. While, “In God We Trust”, is our nation’s motto, I feel like the majority of citizens don’t know the history behind how it got to be just that.

Before “In God We Trust” was made our nation’s motto in 1956, three of our founding fathers, Thomas Jefferson, John Adams and Benjamin Franklin were tasked to make a seal and a motto for the new nation.

Let’s take a quick look at these three men’s opinions on religion. Franklin was a deist who didn’t believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ.

Adams, as president, signed the Treaty with Tripoli in 1797, which reassured the nation of Tripoli, that the United States was not founded, in any sense, on the Christian religion. Jefferson actually created his own bible and left out all the miracles that came with Christ, including the divine birth and resurrection.

After many debates and drafts, the three men decided on the seal we still use to this day, the American Bald Eagle clutching thirteen arrows in one talon, and an olive branch in the other. The only motto that survived the committee is “E Pluribus Unum” which means, from many, one. This motto also appears on the seal.

Fast forward to the year 1864. This is when “In God We Trust” was first placed on a U.S. coin. During this time, the Civil War was still going on and religious sentiment reached a peak. Then on the 30th of July, 1956, President Dwight D. Eisenhower officially made “In God We Trust” the nation’s motto. Now, why would he do this?

Let’s look at this time period. The Cold War was at a fever pitch. A witch hunt started a couple of years earlier for any government official that was thought to be a Communist, this was called the Red Scare. This witch hunt was led by Republican Senator Joseph McCarthy. McCarthy would accuse many government officials of being members of the communist party.

McCarthy’s accusations were so intimidating, that few people dared to speak out against him. Despite the lack of any proof, McCarthy’s investigation caused more than 2,000 government employees to lose their job.

Thanks to the Red Scare, McCarthyism and people thinking communists were God-less people, McCarthy led the push to add the phrase, “Under God” to the Pledge of Allegiance in 1954. Two years later, “In God We Trust” was officially adopted as our National motto.

By placing that motto on police vehicles, you are going against what our founding fathers wanted this great nation to be, an inclusive place where everybody feels welcome regardless of their religion beliefs or lack thereof.

If you truly want to represent every citizen and be patriotic by placing a motto on the back of your police car, I suggest doing so by using the original motto, “E Pluribus Unum” or the opening line of our Constitution, “We the People.”

State Question 788: Medicinal Marijuana Legalization

On June 26, 2018, the state of Oklahoma will vote on State Question 788. This could be one of the most important State Questions in modern Oklahoma history.

For anybody that doesn’t know, State Question 788 is the Medical Marijuana Legislation initiative. A vote yes, would support the measure to legalize the licensed cultivation, use and possession of cannabis for medicinal purposes. A vote no, would oppose the same measure.

Let’s go into a little bit deeper depth of what this measure would do if it was, in fact voted into law. While it would legalize the medical use of cannabis, a person couldn’t just walk into their doctor’s office and get a prescription.

You would first need to obtain a state issued medical marijuana license. To get one, you would first need a board-certified physician’s signature.

A license would cost 100 dollars and it would last a total of two years. A person under the age of 18 would need the signatures of two physicians instead of just one and approval from his or her parents or guardians.

There would be no specific qualifying conditions to be able to get a license. A person who gets a license would be able to possess up to three ounces of cannabis on their selves and up to eight ounces in their home.

A seven percent tax would be placed on all cannabis sales. The revenue that would be collected from this tax would first go towards covering regulatory costs. Any surplus from the tax would be split between education and the Oklahoma State Department of Health for drug and alcohol rehabilitation.

However, it wouldn’t be an even split. 75 percent of the surplus would go towards education and the remaining 25 percent would go to the Department of Health.

For those wondering if employers would be able to penalize you, if you have a medicinal marijuana card, you don’t have to worry. The initiative would forbid employers, landlords and schools from doing so. Employers would only be able to take action against you, if you possess or use cannabis while on the job.

Now that we know the specifics of the state question, let’s discuss why this is in the best interest for Oklahoma.

This initiative will not only bring in much needed revenue for the state, but it’s also patient oriented. Cannabis can be used to treat way more conditions than just glaucoma and cancer.

It’s absurd to think that people suffering from chronic pain, among other conditions, are being prescribed opioids that are highly addictive and dangerous, when they could be using a medication that’s not physically addictive and hasn’t killed anybody in recorded history.

Now let’s take in to account that Oklahoma lawmakers as well as its citizens are currently facing a 611-million-dollar budget hole. I can only imagine how much money is being spent by the State policing, litigating and incarcerating its own citizens for a drug that could be used for such good.

If this initiative passes, that money will be freed up. Combine that money with the money that will be collected through the seven percent tax and I think that budget hole will lessen over time. Whether through in person conversation, or through social media I constantly see Oklahomans brag about how they are always for individual freedoms and how big government shouldn’t infringed upon those rights.

Why shouldn’t the ability to use cannabis be one of those rights? A person using cannabis in their own home has never affected anyone but the person using it. Why should the government continue to try to prosecute individuals for doing something that makes them happy, while at the same time, not hurting anyone else?

Oklahoma is also facing a problem with the overcrowding of prisons. fifty percent of the prison population are individuals doing time for non-violent drug offenses. If this state question passes on June 26, then I believe those serving time for non-violent drug offenses should be pardoned.

Not only will this help solve the problem of overpopulation, but that would free up YOUR tax dollars that are used to house them. Then that money can be used on stuff that we desperately need, like better education and to fix the state’s crumbling infrastructure.

I’ve read the arguments being pushed on the “Vote NO OK788” Facebook page and they simply don’t make sense. They claim this isn’t about medicine, but for a full-blown legalization of cannabis. That simply isn’t the case. As I mentioned above, in order to obtain a medical marijuana card, you have to go through a board-certified physician.

They claim that this bill makes it so if a person has a medicall card, a potential employer won’t be able to drug test them. Again, that isn’t the case at all. They will still be able to drug test them, they just won’t be able to discriminant against a cannabis user if they have a license to use it.

It’s just like now, if a person has a prescription for opioids or any anti-anxiety medicine, an employer is still able to drug test them.

In January 2018, a poll was conducted by “Sooner Poll” and found that 44.6 percent of those asked, strongly supported the initiative and 17.2 percent somewhat supported it.

While around 31 percent of those that were asked, either somewhat opposed or completely opposed the initiative.

Whether you support or oppose state question 788, please register and get out and vote on the 26th. Every vote matters, let your voice be heard.