by Virginia Fuss
Nearly a century after the 18th Amendment was ratified, Congress has decided yet again to put it in place. In order to understand this senseless event, a little background information might be needed. On January 6, 1919, the 18th Amendment, which prohibited all commerce surrounding alcohol, was put into place, years after it was first initiated in 1789. This kicked off a decade of bathtub gin, bootlegging, and sneaky deals. Alcohol consumption and reports of drunkenness rose exponentially, and it seemed that crime really was the secret ingredient to making alcohol taste so good.
After years of a tug-of-war between the ‘wets’ and the ‘drys,’ the two sides to the issue, the 21st Amendment was presented. It suggested a repeal to the 18th amendment and a reinstatement of freedom of alcohol consumption to all adults. This created an uproar, as the two sides flared up to fight their point of view. Fundamentalists verbally attacked the Catholics, criminals threatened dry businessmen, and a clear line was drawn. The issue of prohibition was obviously causing too much noise, and the only way to quiet it was to remove it altogether.
President Franklin D Roosevelt confidently ratified the 21st Amendment, which repealed the unpopular 18th. His decision and the consequences thereafter have suddenly become the envy of the nation, as the current president has decided to reinstate the 18th amendment and repeal the 21st.
The question exists: What came first—the chicken or the egg?
In this case, the chicken and egg can represent the two amendments in no particular order. Obviously, the 18th came before the 21st in the grand scheme of things, but now, in the present, there is no way to know if one was repealed and the other was ratified first…or the other way around.
But this notion is not the one that should be focused on at the moment. A large part of the American economy is the trade and sale of alcohol, and a large part of the American society is the consumption of such substance. The inevitable loss of revenue and influence in that sector of the economy will surely have drastic costs. But the decision has been made, and the amendments have been ratified, or repealed, or ratified, and people are going to start fighting others, just like in the roaring ‘20s, and they’ll begin to flick foreheads and punch shoulders and pull legs—just like I’m pulling yours.