In a moment that be fit for a STIHIE, cable news reached a new height yesterday when rapper 2Chainz debated drug legalization with HLN blowhard Nancy Grace on live TV.
2Chainz’s limited government/personal responsibility argument for marijuana obviously sounded a lot similar to modern-day conservatism. The Atlantic was quick to notice this parallel and published an article entitled, “2Chainz, Conservative Icon,” to introduce this colorful voice for conservative values.
I think the argument is pretty convincing:
It’s all right there: An entrepreneurial mindset, an ethic of hard work, a focus on business success, emphasis on family values. Underpinning it all is a philosophy of personal responsibility. 2Chainz isn’t asking anyone for a handout; he’s not asking anyone to backstop him if he fails. The risks he takes are his alone.
“It’s about governing your own household, it’s about taking care of your own property.”
“We Did It,” as it happened, came up during Chainz’s un-turn-away-able interview with Nancy Grace about marijuana legalization Tuesday night. Grace asked the rapper about the lyric “I never feared death or dying/I only fear never trying.” It was one of many diversions from the topic ostensibly at hand: marijuana legalization, and of course, videos of parents trying to get their children to smoke pot.
…Despite a slew of random digressions—on 2Chainz’s aliases, on his videos, and so on—what comes across clearly is his libertarian-conservative ethos. In making a case for marijuana legalization, 2Chainz advocates for limited government and limited intrusion into citizens’ lives; decries wasteful spending; and insists on personal responsibility while espousing an essentially Thatcherite conception of a polity as a collection of individuals who can’t and should not be abstracted into “society” writ large. [Emphasis added]
2Chainz took up a pragmatic libertarian approach to drugs. “I’m not sure if you know, but everybody has the ability to get their hands on pot now, whether it’s legal or not,” he said wryly. He positioned legalization as a way to avoid overcriminalization, noting that drug convictions can hinder citizens’ ability to get homes or to get loans, perhaps to start a business. (While he didn’t mention racial disparities in arrest rates, he hardly needed to.) He noted that prisons are overcrowded, and citing an incident in which his entourage was hassled over drug charges that were ultimately dropped, he railed against an overweening police presence that limits liberty and wastes taxpayer money. Grace, a former district attorney, seemed oddly unaware of any of these arguments.
“We in a deficit right now, we’ve got to try to find ways on getting out,” he said, sounding every bit like Alan Simpson, the former senator, deficit hawk, and sometime rap-video dancer. “If we’ve got half the states legalizing pot, that frees up taxpayer money, that allows us to use that extra money” for infrastructure repairs.
Grace, meanwhile, continued to try to force a statist, nannying approach to the matter. “Other people don’t have the advantages you have,” she said. “Everybody is not responsible!” But 2Chainz would have none of it. When she asked him if he smoked weed in high school, she walked right into his trap. “Would you want your children doing that?” she asked. Of course not, he replied.
“It was a means, a way of living,” he said. “I did it for them. I sacrificed that for them so they wouldn’t have to do it.”
It’s just the sort of up-by-the-boostraps story that’s essential to fostering belief in capitalism: A hardworking kid from the city hustles through school (an honor student, the rapper went to college on a basketball scholarship), struggles through unsavory jobs, and then finds success—allowing his family to escape the cycle of poverty and better themselves. What friend of free society could object?
Even if this article is possibly only half-serious, I’m with The Atlantic on this one. Conservatives are now rabid individualists who are unwilling to view society as a defined collective with common goals and values. We’re all just here trying to make a buck. 2Chainz seems to cut perfect model for this new “conservative” vision.
Move over “shining city on a hill” for the “big booty ho.”