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Radical Rant: If Hillary Wants a Win, She’d Better Embrace Marijuana Reform

Russ Belville



While the Republicans coalesce around their nomination of an orange-faced anthropomorphic internet-comments-section for President, the opening of the Democratic National Convention exposed the deep divide between the establishment Clintonian Democrats and the progressive Bernie Sanders movement.

Sanders supporters were already feeling dismissed when Hillary Clinton rejected all of the progressive picks for Vice President on her list (Sens. Warren, Booker, Merkeley, Brown) and went with Tim Kaine. That was followed by the WikiLeaks revelation that, indeed, Sanders supporters’ claims of the Democratic Party working to undermine his campaign were valid.

The news was so embarrassing that even the ousting of DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Shultz was not enough to prevent cascades of boos raining down on any speaker who dared mention Hillary Clinton.

Now, the Clinton campaign is in trouble. The polling averages show the bankrupt xenophobe with fun-sized fingers pulling ahead of Mrs. Clinton. More presciently, liberal firebrand Michael Moore has penned an alarming essay of how the comb-over charlatan could win the election simply by flipping the Rust Belt states of Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania from the results of the 2012 election.

Hillary Clinton cannot afford to take any of the blue states from the 2012 election for granted. There are sizeable numbers of Bernie Sanders supporters who will not vote for her. Gary Johnson and Jill Stein are going to siphon away more votes from Clinton than from the living proof Idiocracy was a documentary.

If Hillary Clinton wants to be the next President, she’d better become the pro-marijuana candidate.

RealClearPolitics keeps a tally on the state polls for the election. National polls are interesting, but meaningless, since the winner of the Electoral College, not the popular vote, becomes President. That’s determined by the votes of 50 states, but most states are guaranteed to go for the Democrat or the Republican in almost all elections.

There are 14 states currently considered “toss-ups” that either Clinton or spray-tanned Mussolini could win this election. They include Arizona, Florida, Nevada, and Maine, where marijuana legalization or medical marijuana is on the ballot. Another state voting on medical, Missouri, is leaning toward the misogynist carnival barker.

Both Clinton and her Twitter Tourette’s-suffering opponent are squishy on the marijuana reform issues. Both are floating in that “state’s rights” / “laboratories of democracy” / “let’s wait and see” / “we need more research” limbo, trying to not seem retrograde on legalization without being “pro-pot.” Both are still playing the marijuana issue like it is unpopular and electoral suicide.

Clinton’s going to need ways to distinguish herself as forward-thinking and cool. She needs bold initiative that shows her breaking from her husband’s 1990s legacy (remember Bill’s administration going after California doctors for recommending medical marijuana?) She can do that by becoming the pro-marijuana candidate and painting her opponent as the retrograde drug warrior.

Clinton could go on the offensive on the marijuana issue. She could warn of the potential of Chris Christie as Attorney General, who would attack the will of the voters in states that have passed legalization or medical marijuana. She could drive a wedge between the reality show hobgoblin and the state’s rights-supporting Republicans, or force him to be more explicitly pro-reform, which may alienate his conservative base. She could hammer away at an AG Christie who’d give a gift of a now-multi-billion-dollar industry back to terrorists and criminals.

Being ahead of the marijuana issue would finally make Hillary Clinton seem to some people as if she’s become more progressive. She could tout all the jobs, tax revenue, and economic boost the legalization states have seen. She could tout the health care savings, improved outcomes, and decreased suicides and overdoses we’re seeing in the medical marijuana states. She could explain how she’s going to remove the banking and tax impediments that thwart the industry’s full development. For once, she’d be seen as being the forward-thinking leader and her opponent’s the one trapped in the past.

Democrats and Independents support marijuana legalization by strong majorities and even a plurality of Republicans are beginning to agree. Hillary Clinton could benefit by attaching herself to an issue more popular than she is and reaping some of the get-out-the-vote effort that the marijuana campaigns will generate. She could especially rehabilitate her image with young voters who overwhelmingly preferred Bernie Sanders to her.

But she’s a cautious centrist who claims to have never smoked pot…  so I’m not holding my breath.

 Last week’s Radical Rant: Legalization’s Diminishing Returns