Don’t Drink the Kool-Aid: There is No “Vaping Vote” That Can Wield Any Power
As a lifelong, diehard, Massachusetts liberal, it has been quite a unique experience finding myself electronically marching alongside a majority conservative and libertarian community on an issue of great importance to me: vaping truth and advocacy. It is excellent company at that; people from all walks of life with whom I share a common and passionate experience, belief, and in many cases addiction, which we all find worthy of devoting time and resources to protect. I’m proud to be a member of the vaping advocacy world, and it is full of people like me; amazed that we were able to finally kick the worst habit of our lives, and desperate to protect the right to access this lifesaving technology that is 95% safer than smoking for all those who so choose.
My Political Transformation Complete, I Agreed With Grover Norquist
I’m pretty sure a unicorn died when I wrote Vaping Makes Strange Bedfellows Part Two: That Time I Agreed With Grover Norquist, but it’s true; I do agree with him far more than I do with the democrats on this issue, and I would actively vote against any candidate actively seeking to overregulate or ban vaping, or tax it or otherwise restrict it in any unreasonable way (I don’t consider some regulations, like child-proof caps, unreasonable). I also agree that on a local and maybe even state level, a strong (and well-funded) group of constituents can be a powerful force to reckon with. And I agree that vaping is more than just a product; it is a movement, and one that is gaining political force as the membership ranks swell.
But Can a Group of Vapers Influence the Next Presidential Election? (Spoiler Alert: No)
Phew. I might be a vaping republican (vaping libertarian? vaping populist? vaping progressive?), but I am at least back to my normal state of nature; I again disagree with Grover Norquist. At a reception last week, he made a speech in which he suggested that the outcome of the next presidential election is going to be determined by the vaping community. According to him, “lifestyle issues” win because the political support behind them is so powerful.
I’m sorry folks, but this is just not even remotely possible. While I do think politics on a state level and maybe even in an occasional national congressional district could theoretically be affected by a single issue like vaping, even that is unlikely at this (early) stage of the vaping game. There are three concrete reasons why the next presidential election will definitely not be determined by the vaping community.
- Nobody is Single-Issue Voting for President Based on Vaping Views
First, Norquist assumes that vapers are a single issue voting block. More than 9 million adults vape regularly, and that is a good size group, but to assume that all 9 million vapers are single issue voters is ridiculous, especially when we are talking about voting for President. I’m sorry, but if tomorrow Donald Trump declares vaping the key to his plan to make American great again, I am still not voting for him. I second that thought if Cruz is the candidate. Conversely, I am confident that there are millions of vapers who feel the same if it is Clinton or Sanders who end up embracing vaping as the cornerstone of the 2016 election. I just do not believe that single-issue voting on vaping is at all likely in the presidential election, except potentially by a handful of outliers.
- There is no Powerful Political Action Committee to Support the Lobbying Efforts
Second, to have influence in presidential (and all other) politics, you need to have skin in the game. There is no powerful vaping lobby at this point comparable to the gun lobby or senior citizen lobby; the industry is still so young. The advocacy being put forth by groups like the Smoke-Free Alternatives Trade Association, the Consumer Advocates for Smoke-Free Alternatives Association, and the American Vaping Association, and by incredible filmmakers, like those at A Billion Lives, is top notch and sophisticated. What is not there is the money; there is no vaping political action committee that I am aware of, except for Smoke Free Defense, which appears to have raised a grand total of $880 to date. It’s a sad truth, but the PAC is a necessary reality for gaining widespread political support in 2016 American politics.
- No Candidate Has a Position on Vaping
It will be pretty difficult for all the single issue voters to even figure out who to vote for. None of the political candidates have taken a position on electronic cigarettes, so how would the vaping community know who to support? How does vaping get on the “agenda” for the candidates to opine on? If it’s going to decide the next election, it better become an issue!
The Presidency is Not Where the Future of Vaping Rights Hinges, Anyways
For the reasons above, I am pretty confident that Grover Norquist is wrong that the vaping nation is in a position to influence the outcome of the upcoming presidential election. It isn’t the presidency, however, that will decide the future of vaping. Vaping lobbying efforts need to focus on federal and state legislatures, the front lines of the war to preserve the right to vape. While the vaping political machine continues to increase in strength and number, and especially when a strong political action committee emerges, then influence can start being wielded more on state and local levels, and even on the federal level. It is unlikely, however, that vaping will ever play a major role in presidential politics. But it is the local and state officials that make the vape laws you live under, so keep fighting the good fight. Eventually, a vaper will be in the White House. Until then, Keep Calm and Vape On.
Julie Selesnick is the president of The Happy Vapor Company, , and a contributing columnist for Spinfuel eMagazine. You can expect to see much more from Julie in Spinfuel eMagazine