Maybe some day, when I’m old and curmudgeonly and stuck in the past enough to get a job writing a column for a major daily newspaper, I can be just like the P-I’s Ted Van Dyk…
One of the most difficult things to do, in any part of life, is to make judgments on the basis of facts and principles rather than on our feelings about personalities.
Yeah, and when you’re talking about facts and stuff, it might be a good idea to actually research them, rather than just kinda-sorta drawing from your personal recollection. Take for example Van Dyk’s defense of Tim Eyman, whose initiatives he both criticizes as “arbitrary” and “disruptive”, and lauds as resonating with an angry electorate.
But wait a minute. Why do Eyman’s proposals gain broad public support, even when losing?
Um… in a democracy, isn’t “losing” an election kinda the opposite of “broad public support”…?
It is because they resonate in an electorate just plain fed up with undisciplined and even mischievous state and local spending and taxing decisions. Eyman’s ballot measures become send-a-message blunt instruments for ordinary citizens.
Eyman’s initiatives resonate with voters? Really? Let’s take a look at Eyman’s electoral performance over the past few years and see how Van Dyk’s assumptions hold up:
I-917 — YATDCTB ("Yet Another Thirty Dollar Car Tab Initiative")
Eyman spent nearly $738,000 — most of it Michael Dunmire’s money — yet failed to collect enough signatures to qualify this dog for the ballot.
I-900 — Performance Audits
Passed with 56% of the vote. By comparison, the other two winning initiatives that year, the "Indoor Clean Air Act" and the totally unsexy "Commission on Judicial Conduct," pulled in 63 and 68 percent of the vote respectively.
I-892 — "Slots for Tots"
Failed with only 38% of the vote, the worst of that year’s five statewide measures. Eyman’s I-864, which would have cut local property tax levies by 25% across the board, failed to qualify for the ballot after five months of canvassing.
I-807 — "Super Majority for Tax & Fee Increases"
Sounds familiar? Well without Michael Dunmire’s money, this first incarnation of I-960 failed to qualify for the ballot.
So… um… how exactly do you “gain broad public support, even when losing,” initiatives that never even get far enough to lose? Van Dyk imagines he has his finger on the pulse of Washington voters, but if he did, you’d think he might have noticed that Eyman politically flat-lined years ago. Eyman didn’t even manage to qualify a single anti-tax initiative over the previous four years, let alone pass one, and since 2002 has relied almost exclusively on sugar daddy Michael Dunmire and the gambling industry to finance his paid signature drives. In the interim, voters have overwhelmingly rejected both gas tax and estate tax repeal, while local levies routinely passed throughout the state. Yeah… voters are clearly “just plain fed up.”
Van Dyk goes on to berate the rail portion of the coming Roads & Transit measure, warning it will “snarl traffic and harm the economy,” and yet polls consistently show that light rail is exactly the portion of the measure most popular with voters. What exactly is Van Dyk’s definition of an “ordinary citizen”…? Kemper Freeman Jr.?
With logic like that Van Dyke almost makes Eyman seem sensible. Almost.
Andrew’s got a more comprehensive Eyman Failure Chart up at Permanent Defense.