article below posted November 28, 2010
ELECTION RESULTS 2010
Washington State Votes Against Change
by Janice Van Cleve
egardless of the media blather about a Republican sweep and anti-government mood, the elections of 2010 reflect instead a deep fear of change in Washington State. What a difference two years make! In 2008 all the talk was about change. We embraced change with a sigh of relief from the Bush years and we hoped that change might actually happen.
Now two disappointing years later, the voters are beaten down by a bad economy, continuing wars, and cutbacks in state services. They are hunkering down and afraid of change. Just look at the Washington State ballot measures:
This is the Tim Eyman measure to return to the status quo of I-960 which was passed by voters in 2007 and was suspended by the state legislature earlier this year. Passing by a whopping 65%, I-1053 again places a stranglehold on new revenue and forces the state to make deeper cuts into essential services. Now all it will take is 17 state senators to block any revenue measures in Olympia.
This was the attempt by the Building Industry Association of Washington (BIAW) to gobble up the Workman’s Compensation Fund for its own use. Voters decided to keep this fund in state government hands by a large 58% majority.
This was the attempt to create a state tax on the wealthiest incomes. Pushed by Bill Gates Sr. and Jr. it was opposed by Seattle Times publisher Frank Blethen (net worth $650 million), Microsoft CEO Steve Balmer ($13.1 billion), Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos ($12.6 billion), and Vulcan’s Paul Allen ($12.7 billion). This in spite of the facts that (1) the tax would have supported education and (2) all of these rich people have cried about lack of education support in this state. Voters feared this change 65% to 35%.
I-1100 and 1105.
cartoon by Dan McConnell
Both of these initiatives would have privatized liquor sales to the benefit of Costco, Wal-Mart, and other big-box stores. Voters, far from a so called anti-government mood, dumped both of these initiatives in order to keep this revenue flowing to the state coffers. Again, status quo.
This is the rollback of new taxes on soda pop and candy which the legislature enacted this year when they suspended I-960 (see above). Voters overturned the legislature and approved this one by 62%.
This would have authorized bonds to upgrade schools and create lots of jobs in the process. Voters rejected this change by 57%.
This makes it a bit easier for the state to borrow and it barely passed by 51%. In effect the voters don’t want to change their own taxes but are willing to borrow from their children.
This is the only change that voters approved by a massive 85%. This measure allows judges to deny bail for persons charged with certain crimes and is a direct reaction to the murder of four Lakewood WA police officers by a convicted felon from Arkansas.
The same fear of change seems to pervade the results of Washington State’s Congressional races. All the incumbents sailed to victory.
In the state legislature, the Democrats will continue to control both houses but by slimmer margins. It looks now like the Democrats will have a three-seat majority in the state senate and an eight-seat majority in the state house.
The only real candidate upset was Charlie Wiggins finally unseating Richard Sanders on the state supreme court. That was a major exception to the general trend.
What happened? Two years ago voters swelled with hope. They voted for change. Now disappointed, discouraged, and despairing they have lost hope that any good change will ever happen. Corporations are still being bailed out while homeowners are being foreclosed. Bankers are back to big bonuses while workers cannot find jobs. Big Oil and Big Coal still dodge regulations while their employees are killed by unsafe practices. Gays and Lesbians are still banned from openly serving in the military while Obama sends more soldiers into Afghanistan.
The nail in the coffin was the five-to-four Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. Federal Election Commission last January. This ruling declared that money is speech and corporations, unions, and political action committees are citizens. This ruling opened the floodgates of cash and obscene amounts of money poured into elections across the country. Brazenly political shadow groups led by Karl Rove and others bought or attempted to buy elections in every state while claiming anonymity for their donors. In Iowa, for example, three of the state supreme court justices who ruled in a unanimous decision for same-sex marriage were recalled in a campaign financed by out-of-state conservative shadow groups.
Young people especially, who were the fire in the belly and feet on the ground in 2008, decided “What’s the use?” Their college tuitions are skyrocketing and even when they get a degree they can’t find jobs. The discouragement of the younger generation in the electoral process is especially damaging to our constitutional democracy. If instead of hope, opportunity, and confidence, all we pass on to them is our debt, we have doomed ourselves as a nation.
Yet there is a ray of light even if from an unlikely source. The emergence of the Tea Party has demonstrated that if people are willing to convert their anger into action, they can make a difference. Tea Party candidates bucked the Republican establishment to put 39 of their candidates into the US House of Representatives in this election. They may not represent a genuine unified party, but they are carving out an independent course.
It is time for Progressives to buck the Democratic establishment and do the same.
Janice Van Cleve is a Democratic Party PCO from Seattle Washington. Copyright 2010.
Please keep comments polite and related to the above page.
This comment form is powered by GentleSource Comment Script. It can be included in PHP or HTML files and allows visitors to leave comments on the website.