Eyman’s racist rhetoric falling flat

It is not surprising that in all his literature, yard signs, and radio ads, and in all his media appearances, Tim Eyman never mentions what Initiative 892 actually does: legalize slot machines. What is curious, is how little time he spends on his familiar property tax message, instead choosing to focus on the real rhetorical theme of the initiative: “Stick it to the Tribes!”

His PDC reports show no expenditures on polling or focus groups, so I’m assuming this racist appeal comes directly from Tim’s heart. After all, the first initiative Tim sponsored was the anti-affirmative action I-200. (And yes, John Carlson, I know you deserve the credit for passing it… though why you so fervently want the credit, escapes me.)

An editorial in yesterday’s Seattle P-I (“Native slurs“) shows just how low I-892 supporters are willing to take this argument, and how shameless they are in promoting it. The editorial mentions a series of pro-892 political cartoons that have been offered to local newspapers, “that use offensive stereotypes to depict Indians.”

The cartoons depict Indians in loincloths, headbands and feathers and include the phrases “keep ‘um cigarette tax, keep ‘um sales tax, keep ‘um gas tax, too,” apparently trying to make the common I-892 proponents’ argument that tribal casinos have an unfair competitive advantage over non-tribal gambling businesses.

In debating Tim on the radio and in person, I always steered away from the tribal issue, so I could relentlessly focus on the single, winning message of the No campaign: I-892 legalizes slot machines and puts them into our neighborhoods. (It’s a beautiful thing when a political soundbite is both effective, and the incontrovertible truth.) If I strayed off-message, it was only to reinforce it by talking about the very real dangers of problem gambling.

This type of rhetorical discipline was as painful for me as it was out of character. I am opposed to legalizing slots, even at tribal casinos. But I sympathize with the tribes, their unique economic and social challenges, and their long, tragic history at the hands of the “Us” in Eyman’s Orwellian-named PAC, “Just Treat Us The Same.”

And at times, I felt ashamed, biting my tongue as Tim attempted to stoke the fires of racial hatred. I could have rejoined by pointing out that the tribes are sovereign nations — essentially, local governments — and that the vast majority of casino profits are used to provide services to their citizens, like education, health care, roads, etc. I could have repeated Pierce County Executive John Landenberg’s assertions that the tribes have saved county taxpayers millions by building their own schools and health clinics, and eliminating their burden on social services. Or I could have simply appealed to a sense of historical justice, suggesting that if Tim wanted to be treated the same, we should steal his Mukilteo McMansion and move him to a reservation.

But responding to Tim would have allowed him to control the terms of the debate, thus clouding the issue for voters. The issue is gambling. Voters don’t want more of it, especially not in their neighborhoods… and especially, especially not slot machines.

Tim is banking that voters resent the tribes more than they revile slot machines. Racial resentment proved to be a winning theme in the I-200 campaign, and Tim is apparently hoping that “Us” hates Indians at least as much as they hate black people.

I know that may sound like a cynical, harsh, and unnecessarily blunt assessment. But if I-892 loses as overwhelmingly as recent polls suggest, it will encouragingly show that Tim’s racist rhetoric has as little appeal with voters as the two anti-government initiatives he has failed to qualify the past two years.

Tim Eyman has ceased to be relevant with voters. Eventually, the media will wake up to this, and allow his state-wide celebrity to slowly ebb away.


  1. 1

    Josef spews:

    Well, I agree. But I believe I should relay to you (and your readers) that yesterday, when I was at SVC’s Mount Vernon campus – I landed at least one vote probably at least a dozen by noting the Canadian invasion of our state’s initiatve process.

    You see, Americans are Americans! We will not let this aggression stand! No matter the cost, no matter the toil necessary we will throw these Canadians and their filthy money back!

    With that said, I ALWAYS mentioned the tribes. I get REALLY mad because I know it’s racism all over again. I even saw a car painted up for a white supremacist group yesterday.

    Finally, I am also emphasizing the gambling as I hand out the flyers. I have a problem with the new machines and you know something, if I can cite the Washington State Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Part (c) to warn against I-884… then I cite the Washington State Constitution, Article II, Section 1, Part (c) to warn against legislative tampering of I-892. I mean, how long until the state legislature puts these machines wherever you get state lottery tickets???

  2. 2

    Josef spews:

    While we speak of expanded gambling… see this:

    Zingy I-892 “pseudo slots” are sure bet for the house

    “Her voice, husky and inviting, purrs “Come closer,” and it seems few can deny her lure: Cleopatra, an electronic slot machine, is one hot ticket.”

    Well, well what have we got here??? And like I said earlier, how long until the State Legislature invokes Article II, Section 1, Part c of the state constitution to change the initiative (God forbid we lose) so we see them in our gas stations – as my community college mentor, close friend and personal angel Dr. Anne Will warned me about yesterday?

    Of course http://www.permanentdefense.org is on top of this…

  3. 3

    Mike spews:

    I read this article and it says Jerry Kingen is the person responsible
    for the cartoons and this is quoted in the article by the guy who drew the pictures. What has Jerry Kingen got to do with Tim Eyman?
    Geez folks, are we now equating people from Britsh Columbia as if their Al Quaeda terrorist? I always thought British Columbia was considered the 51st state. I think you guys have been spending to much time in Idaho?

  4. 5

    Josef spews:


    I NEVER said British Columbians = Al Qaeda. Please stop putting words in my mouth unless your last name is either Eyman or Bush. What I said was that we would kick out the Great Canadian Gaming assault on our state and our initiative process and our soverignity.

    Nevertheless: Our countenance is firm, unwavering and resolute. This initiative, paid for in large sums by Canadian invaders, will be repelled on 2 November!

    We will also drive back the racism Jerry Kingen and other white supremacists, like Idohan Larry Knighton, on 2 November. THEY will be made inferior!

    Quoting Sir Winston Churchill: “You ask, what is our aim? I can answer in one word: It is victory, victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror, victory, however long and hard the road may be; for without victory, there is no survival.”

    (Oh and I’ve seen Craters of the Moon & the strip of Idaho I-90 passes thru in Idaho. Quite barren.)

  5. 6

    FatCow spews:

    My concern here, besides the Canadian invasion of our state is that the profits from the slots will go to Canada. Let’s keep our money at home, in our pockets, and buying bread and milk for the kids.

  6. 7

    Goldy spews:

    Mike… as always, I provided a link to the original article, and my readers are free (indeed, encouraged) to read it for themselves. It was Eyman who chose to frame the initiative with racist rhetoric… he even named his PAC “Just Treat Us The Same.” Kingen is just following Eyman’s lead in support of I-892.