Episode #170 Vote For Others

Early voting is officially open for two major issues on the Ohio ballot – abortion access (Issue 1) and the legalization of marijuana (Issue 2). This week, Dr. Michael Brown and family medicine resident physician Dr. Justin Brown have a thoughtful and nuanced conversation about justice, autonomy, and what it looks like to change our minds.

Show Notes

I wanted him to know that I wasn’t just gonna vote for me but that I was gonna vote for him, for his family, and for his community.
Dr. Justin Brown

Ten Problems

  • Our tendency to make decisions in light of “What is best for me?” is often proven at the ballot box.
  • It was nearly 100 years after the founding of the U.S. that Black men gained the right to vote, and this was not extended to women for another 50 years.
  • 1 in 10,000 women die in childbirth, and this is about 3 times higher in Black women.
  • There was a concerted effort by the federal government during Prohibition to refer to cannabis as marijuana to associate it with Mexican immigrants.
  • The War on Drugs was launched at a time when drug use was actually declining, and less than 2% of Americans viewed it as the biggest problem facing the nation.
  • 1 in 3 Black men in the U.S. are incarcerated in their lifetimes, and there are currently more Black Americans under correctional control than were enslaved in 1850.
  • Black Americans are arrested disproportionately for cannabis despite lower rates of use than white Americans.
  • Someone in the U.S. is arrested for a cannabis-related offense every 58 seconds, leading to 500,000 arrests annually with 90% of these for possession alone.
  • A felony conviction for cannabis possession can create barriers to future housing and employment, and it strips one of the right to vote.
  • The benefits of cannabis for chronic pain and anxiety are primarily available to the middle-class white men who are most likely to be certified for medical use.

Six Principles

  • The world is much more nuanced than we’ve been led to believe.
  • With every issue on the ballot, there is an important historical and often racial context.
  • Conversations about reproductive health are far more personal that political for many.
  • Access to free birth control reduces the rate of abortions by 75%.
  • We may be surprised to discover how little critical thought we’ve invested in complex issues.
  • Every $1 spent on drug treatment saves $12 in drug-related incarceration.

Three Practices

  • Before casting a vote, pause to reflect on how that vote will affect others – and specifically how it will affect those impacted by disenfranchisement.
  • Find the courage to speak up about issues in the news, especially when they relate to your personal experience or professional expertise.
  • Evaluate yourself honestly with the reflections, “What has motivated my votes in the past?” and “What should motivate my votes in the future?”

One Perspective

  • “A vote is like a kind of prayer.” – Rev. Dr. Raphael Warnock

One Addendum

  • The rate of abortion at less than 6 weeks gestation is 32%, not over 50%, as mentioned in the episode.