July 18  We asked Lester Grinspoon, the grand old man of the medical marijuana movement, “What’s your line on Jill Stein, MD (the Green Party candidate for President)? She sounded great in the NY Times piece and on Amy Goodman’s show.”

Grinspoon’s reply July 16:  “I think she is ‘great’!  However, she will siphon votes from Barack Obama and that, in this most critical of elections, we simply cannot afford.  I would welcome and support her campaign in a contest which offered very little choice, but that is not true in this upcoming election.”

We agree that  Obama is infinitely preferable to Mitt Romney. We think Romney will heartlessly expedite The Disaster that Obama wishes he could forestall. But it’s July, not late October, and the question is whose campaign should we be publicizing? I say Stein’s —even if your most ardent hope is for Obama’s re-election.

It’s now accepted as a truism that Nader siphoned votes from Gore in Florida, costing him the election. Saulny of the Times writes, “Experts point to Ralph Nader, the Green Party nominee in 2000, who was seen by many Democrats as siphoning just enough votes from Al Gore in one state, Florida, to tip the election to the Republican, George W. Bush.”

At the recent High Times Cannabis Cup I met a lawyer named Michael Levensohn who is defending a young mom, wife of a grower, whose kids were ripped off by Child Protective Services in Butte County because there was bud trim on her kitchen floor.  Levensohn is relatively new to the Cannabis subspecialty.  I dug him right away — seemed diligent and serious and brave. In the course of our conversation he said, as if it were established fact, that Nader had siphoned off votes from Gore in Florida, costing him the election.  I told him I drew a different moral from 2000, and would elaborate down the line. Here goes

I think Gore would have won by a theft-proof margin if he had allowed Nader to take part in the televised debates. The Repugs, assuming Nader would siphon votes from Gore, wanted Nader to take part.  The Dems, assuming Nader would siphon votes from Gore, did not. These experts are actually simpletons. They ignore the entourage effect. Nader would have come across as the intellectual on the left, Bush as the frat boy on the right, and Al Gore would have been the solid Everyman in the center, just where you want to be in a presidential race.  Without Nader present, Gore came across as the wonk-liberal (the ambitious smart kid, now grown up) and Bush as the folksy conservative (the dumb but “popular” kid). Gore kept Nader out of the debate because his political instincts —and the party leaders’ political instincts, including Barney Frank and his sister— are anti-democratic. Without a semblance of a left in American politics, the Demos don’t look like the centrists they really are.

What does this suggest that left-leaning Obama supporters with a modicum of influence like Lawrence O’Donnell and Rachel Maddow and Hendrik Hertzberg and Stephen Colbert should be doing in July and August and September and even October to strengthen his chances?  They should invite Jill Stein, MD, into the discussion. Give her a chance to explain why disarmament is required if we’re going to rebuild our infrastructure and school system; why single-payer is the fair and efficient approach to healthcare; how a Green New Deal could enable young people to have meaningful, fulfilling employment —and earn enough to raise a family in a stable community

As of now, the pro-Obama media types like Big Ed Schultz and Al Sharpton beat up on Willard, praise the President, and that’s that.  But if they would give Dr. Stein the time of day, Obama would be seen as the “centrist” that he actually is.  And that will help him come November… I wonder if they’ll let Chris Hayes have her on as a guest.  Lately he’s had rightwingers like Carney and Douthat. I suppose he’s under orders. Hayes is brilliant and sweet and well-intentioned but… workin’ for The Man like everyone else in this wonderful system.