Election 2012: Big Bird’s Revenge
Welcome to the Eat The State! endorsements for the November 6 general election. This is our 17th year of picking endorsements for Seattle’s liberal, progressive, and ultra-lefty voters.
Many of our past endorsements issues have addressed a particular theme. This year’s emerging theme seems to be the “Tweedle Theory.” According to this theory, the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are “two sides of the same coin”–in other words, one de facto single party whose elected leaders ultimately serve the interests of Wall Street and Corporate America, not those of the American electorate.
Here at ETS!, we fully understand the Tweedle Theory’s appeal for our most loyal longtime readers. But honestly, we do have serious issues with the oversimplification it sometimes enables. Although we’ve always been shameless radicals at heart, we’ve always aimed to make pragmatic choices for our election endorsements, based on careful scrutiny of candidates and issues–ideological purity be damned. In our shamelessly pragmatic opinion, the Tweedle Theory is too intellectually toxic to fully embrace. Evidence in support of our stance can be seen on this year’s Washington state ballot. In the most important races on this year’s ballot–president, governor, and state attorney general–the ideological differences between the two candidates are undeniably stark.
Thus, most of our endorsements for this mostly uninspiring election are for mainstream Democratic Party candidates, despite our own collective desire for more inspiring–and, yes, electable–third-party choices. However, our traditional readership can still take some small heart: there is at least one outstanding ultra-lefty candidate on this year’s ballot–namely, Kshama Sawant–whom we’re very enthusiastically endorsing.
Speaking of which, on to our endorsements. Our usual caveats, as always, apply: these endorsements represent our shamelessly biased opinion; do your own research; make up your own mind. (Also, as always: we do not make endorsements for uncontested races.) Meanwhile, in honor of a recent runaway Internet meme, remember the following Seattle-themed in-joke as you contemplate your ballot choices: “Big Bird will have his revenge on the Republican Party.”
ELECTED OFFICES: FEDERAL
US President: Question of the year: Should Eat The State! endorse Barack Obama?
For longtime ETS! readers, it’s an obviously controversial question, since Obama has obviously been a disappointment for many of the shameless leftists who comprise the ETS! community. Nevertheless, regardless of Obama’s many first-term failures (Wall Street, NDAA, drug war, etc.), it should be clear to any sane person that a Mitt Romney presidency would be far more destructive than another four years of a Barack Obama presidency. Among the many reasons why a Romney presidency should be prevented–his ruthless exploitation of workers as Bain Capital boss; his relentless flip-flopping on important issues such as abortion; his obvious cluelessness about the everyday lives of the 99 Percent–Big Bird, for Romney, is a “canary in the coal mine,” indeed.
Romney’s now-infamous reference to Big Bird during this year’s first presidential debate–spoken in the context of Romney’s gleeful proposal to cut federal funding for the Public Broadcasting System–clearly betrayed a major ideological difference between Romney and Obama. And, as shown by how quickly and widely the resulting Sesame Street memes spread throughout the Internet after that debate, Romney severely miscalculated the popularity of Sesame Street (and, thus, PBS) among liberal post-Baby Boom voters who grew up watching–and being sociologically influenced by–that groundbreaking, brazenly multicultural children’s TV program. Obama, in contrast, is America’s most brazenly multicultural president ever, and has thus been a great champion for progressive American values, if not progressive policies.
Lest we forget, Washington state is very much a “safe state” for Obama. Therefore, while ETS! fervently hopes for a resounding Romney defeat, Seattle-area progressive voters who are dissatisfied with Obama should feel free to vote their consciences. We recommend either the Green Party’s Jill Stein or the Justice Party’s Rocky Anderson.
US Senator: For the primary, we endorsed Timmy (Doc) Wilson as a protest vote to pressure incumbent Maria Cantwell to adopt more progressive positions on more issues. We recognize that many among our core readership still haven’t forgiven Cantwell for her vote–ten years ago this month–giving George W. Bush authority to launch the US invasion of Iraq. Still, we must concede that she’s made great amends in recent years, among them her strong support for health care reform (including the public option) and her leadership in promoting financial regulations in the wake of the Wall Street meltdown. Her challenger, Republican state senator Michael Baumgartner, is venal enough–certain other local papers might even call him a “douchebag”–to convince us to give our endorsement (however guarded) to Maria Cantwell.
US Representative, District 1: For the primary, we endorsed Darcy Burner, who, despite being one of the most bright, articulate, likable, and genuinely progressive young contenders in Puget Sound politics in recent years, still can’t get elected to Congress after three tries, including her primary bid this year. So now we’ll just have to blush, cop to “lesser-evilism,” and half-heartedly endorse the corporate centrist Suzan DelBene.
US Representative, District 7: There are three things in life you can be sure of: death, taxes, and the fact that Jim McDermott will once again coast to re-election this year. North Korean elections are so boring, and McDermott still needs a challenge from someone who would much better represent Seattle in Congress and whose name will surely be recognized by the ETS! faithful, if not the average Seattle voter in 2012. Google the name of the Greatest Seattle Congress Member Ever: Marion Zioncheck.
US Representative, District 8: Two words: Congresscritter Hairspray. One opponent: Karen Porterfield.
US Representative, District 9: This district was redrawn earlier this year by census-determined redistricting that resulted in the 9th becoming the state’s first majority-minority district. The resulting new constituency should ideally be represented by a person of color. Instead, it’s currently represented by incumbent Adam Smith, a corporate centrist Democrat and middle-aged white guy. Being a longtime local Democratic golden boy, Smith will likely coast to re-election. We’d rather see someone who’s not white (he’s yellow), has a long and stellar track record on education issues, and is a helluva lot more popular than Smith: Write in Big Bird.
Governor: Very strong evidence against the Tweedle Theory can be found in this year’s Washington state gubernatorial race. Republican Rob McKenna–much like Mitt Romney–has cynically portrayed himself to his potential constituents as an affable, sensible moderate. Don’t be fooled: close inspection of McKenna’s political history will reveal a deeply reactionary and anti-democratic (small-d) right-wing personality. (One example among many of public behavior that betrays his true nature: his prickly hostility towards the local press during the past few months.)
Democrat Jay Inslee, by very stark contrast, has long been one of our state’s most exemplary and authentically progressive politicos–not to mention one of the most effective members of our state’s Washington DC delegation during his time in Congress. He would easily be a better, more truly liberal governor than either Christine Gregoire or Gary Locke, and–dare we say it–he could potentially become our state’s best governor since Mike Lowry. Our second-most enthusiastic endorsement this year goes to Jay Inslee.
Lieutenant Governor: This office is basically useless and should be abolished. Meanwhile, longtime incumbent Brad Owen has used the office as a platform to sing the praises of the War on Drugs, at taxpayer expense. We endorse a most unique write-in: “abolish this office.”
Secretary of State: Both candidates in this race have earned our respect. But since this office is vulnerable to the national Republican effort to disenfranchise voters, we give the nod to the Democrat, former state senator Kathleen Drew.
State Treasurer: Incumbent Jim McIntire will easily coast to re-election, and is basically unopposed. Skip it.
State Auditor: This formerly apolitical office has been badly politicized in the wake of Tim Eyman’s I-900, which gave the office independent audit review powers to force reform of state government agencies. Just as with the Secretary of State race, both candidates here are decent and well-qualified, but electing the Democrat would more likely prevent this office from being further politicized. Troy Kelley.
Attorney General: Here’s another race where the differences between the Dem and the Rep are both clear and critical. While both candidates are current King County Council members, the similarities stop there. Bob Ferguson has been a consistently progressive political maverick ever since his election as president of the University of Washington student government back in 1988. Reagan Dunn is a blatant Tea Partisan–not to mention the son of the venal Jennifer Dunn, the Republican 8th District Congresscritter from 1993 to 2005 and a staunch right-winger. Just say no to a Dunn dynasty. Bob Ferguson.
Commissioner of Public Lands: Incumbent Peter Goldmark has done a great job stewarding the state’s lands and protecting them from excessive resource extraction. His opponent, Clint Didier, is another blatant Tea Partisan. No-brainer. Peter Goldmark.
Insurance Commissioner: This position, which oversees the state’s 48 insurance companies, will be crucial in overseeing implementation of the Affordable Care Act in Washington state. Incumbent Mike Kreidler, a Democrat who’s held the job since 2000, supports the ACA and easily deserves re-election. Mike Kreidler.
State Senator, Dist. 11: Bob Hasegawa rocks. This longtime progressive union champion remains one of Seattle’s most consistently progressive legislators, and easily deserves the ETS! vote. This election is his bid to step up from the legislature to the state senate. As part of his platform, Hasegawa intends to help create a state bank, which would reinvest state money back into the state’s infrastructure. Give the man a hand and give the man your vote. Bob Hasegawa.
State Representative, Dist. 43 Pos. 2: For longtime loyal ETS! readers, this race is the clear no-brainer this year. Kshama Sawant is one of the most exciting candidates to appear on a Washington state ballot in many years. Sawant is an economics instructor at Seattle Central Community College and Seattle University. She’s young, smart, articulate–and she’s that very rare ultra-left candidate who is well-grounded enough to imagine as a serious legislator long after the campaign rhetoric has faded away.
For anyone who’s been following the local races in recent months, Sawant’s appeal to the ETS! community should be obvious. She has participated passionately in the Occupy movement, she’s closely involved in the local labor movement, and the planks of her platform include progressive taxation, living-wage jobs, protecting social services, and investment in schools, transit, health care, and renewable energy.
Sawant has acknowledged that she likely can’t win against the well-known local political pitbull Frank Chopp. Still, she’s a “protest vote” we can for once endorse boldly, rather than begrudgingly, and we strongly encourage her to continue pursuing public office after this year’s election. Our most enthusiastic endorsement this year goes to Kshama Sawant.
Other state legislative candidates worth supporting: Zack Hudgins and Steve Berquist (11), Reuven Carlyle and Gael Tarleton (36), Maureen Judge and Marcie Maxwell (41), Gerry Pollet and Sarajane Siegfriedt (46).
King County Sheriff: The King County Sheriff’s Office–one of the largest sheriff’s departments in the country–could be on the verge of major reform, due to legislation passed earlier this year by King County Council. Who will oversee that reform? Both candidates here are KCSO insiders, but John Urquhart, unlike Steve Strachan, has earned a reputation for at least acknowledging KCSO’s shortcomings. John Urquhart.
State Supreme Court, Pos. 9: Libertarian Richard Sanders was previously elected to the state high court, but lost re-election narrowly in 2010 due to his history of racist remarks. While his past stances on civil liberties have been admirable, his failure to publicly repent of his reactionary views disqualifies him from our endorsement. Sheryl McCloud.
Superior Court, Judge Pos. 42: “God, what a mess, on the ladder of success.” Both candidates in this race have major marks against them. Incumbent Christopher Washington was recently ranked last in a King County Bar Association survey of 50 Superior Court judges. His challenger, Sue Parisien, is a spectacularly unqualified, nakedly partisan former aide to Rob McKenna. However, the KCBA survey was dominated by lawyers from the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, which seems to have a vendetta against Washington over a past juvenile court case. For this race, we’ll stick with “the devil we know.” Christopher Washington.
Initiative 502: The decriminalization of marijuana is long overdue. So much so that mainstream politicians, both locally and nationally, are increasingly coming out publicly in favor of it. Washington state, for many reasons, is now one of three states that could be the first in the nation to legalize pot. Unfortunately, I-502 is problematic enough that it has divided our state’s many legalization advocates into opposing camps, mainly due to DUI provisions that would potentially make medical marijuana users subject to prosecution. We’re joining the pro-502 side, with the proviso that, if it passes, organizing should start immediately to get those provisions changed, either by the legislature or by initiative if necessary. Yes on I-502.
Initiative 1185: Tim Eyman has risen yet again from the political grave. This is yet another attempt by the erstwhile Mukilteo watch salesman to hamstring our state government with a “2/3 majority for tax and fee increases” requirement. His last attempt (which passed due to his usual savvy salesmanship) was shot down by the King County Superior Court this past May as unconstitutional–and the state Supreme Court later agreed. Let’s not waste our court system’s time once again. No on I-1185.
Initiative 1240: Charter schools are a racket. There, we said it. The strategy is simple and obvious: First, drastically underfund public education. Then, claim that privatization–supported with public funding–is necessary because public schools are “failing.” Washington state voters saw through this blatant scam twice before; hopefully, we will do so once again. No on I-1240.
Referendum 74: For the ETS! faithful, legalizing gay marriage in Washington state should be an obvious no-brainer. Unfortunately, R-74 is polling neck-and-neck, making this the most critical measure on this year’s state ballot. Yes on R-74.
Constitutional Amendment ESJR 8221: No.
Constitutional Amendment ESJR 8223: No.
King County Proposition No. 1: Yes.
Seattle Proposition No. 1: Yes.