Something strange happed on this day in 1970. Elvis Presley met with President Richard Nixon in the White House to discuss, among other topics, drug policy. Elvis received a badge from the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs.
Nothing every came of Elvis’ desire to be a drug agent. He died just seven years later.
But the odd episode shows that happy occasions occur when the political bedfellows couldn’t be any stranger, though the cause is just.
“Politics is a funny business,” writes Matt Lewis for the Daily Caller. “Every once in a while, conservatives and liberals — by no fault of their own — agree on what is best for society (or, at least, for their families). Take, for example, the homeschooling movement. Homeschool parents typically fit into one of two categories: Hippies or Christian conservatives. To be sure, they come to these similar conclusions about how to educate their children for entirely different reasons. But on this one issue, at least, they are agreed.”
Another example is opposition to the National Security Agency’s data collection. First, let’s call it what it is — spying. The amount of data collected is vast, and it’s not limited to foreigners or suspected terrorists. The NSA is spying on all of us.
This puts many Republicans in a tough position; they’re all for the U.S. Constitution and the Fourth Amendment (which bans unreasonable searches) but at the same time, they’re all for security.
This has led to a strange meeting of the minds of liberals and libertarians, who feel more strongly about liberty than they do about security.
Liberals don’t like it, but it’s a strong coalition nonetheless.
One liberal, Tom Watson of Slate magazine, urged the left to reject any alliance and to not participate in a rally called “Stop Watching Us” in Washington in October.
“The Libertarian Party itself — inaccurately described by Stop Watching Us as a ‘public advocacy organization’ — is a right-wing political party that opposes all gun control laws and public healthcare, supported the government shutdown, dismisses public education, opposes organized labor, favors the end of Social Security as we know it, and argues in its formal political manifesto that ‘we should eliminate the entire social welfare system’ while supporting ‘unrestricted competition among banks and depository institutions of all types,’” Watson wrote.
Watson said forming a coalition would be an “abandonment of core principles.”
Responding just a few days later in the same magazine, David Segal wrote that coalitions are necessary. He said he understood Watson’s hesitancy.
“But the perfect should not be the enemy of the possible,” Segal wrote. “While we must harbor no delusions about our differences, sometimes partisans on the left and right agree about some things — if not always for the same reasons — and they can pressure the institutionalists who run both parties.”
Elvis Presley and Richard Nixon remain our nation’s strangest political bedfellows (the photo from the meeting is a national treasure).
But perhaps it’s a good example for the rest of us. As Ronald Reagan pointed out, we don’t have to agree on everything to agree on some things.