I’m quoting the theme song to the Poseidon Adventure in my headline because let’s face it, yesterday’s election was a fucking disaster for Democrats, though just like any disaster flick, not exactly a surprise at the end. But I don’t really want to talk about that. Old people voted and young people didn’t. And so Republicans won big, giving America exactly the kind of crotchety, dyspeptic, backward thinking government the crotchety, dyspeptic, backward thinking electorate asked for.
But there was a silver lining here in Washington State and in Seattle in particular. Not for Democrats—they don’t control the state senate either. But with the ballot measures.
With the historic passage of Initiative 594, Washington is now the first state to approve gun control restrictions at the polls, and by an impressive 60-40 margin. And this wasn’t just asshole Seattle liberals forcing our immoral lifestyle on the rest of the state—I-594 actually won a few Eastern Washington counties, and did respectably well in a number of others. Meanwhile the intentionally confusing anti-background-check Initiative 591 is going down to a resounding defeat.
Together that shows up the NRA for the paper tiger it really is, and sets an example for how to defeat the gun-nuts with sensible gun control ballot measures throughout the nation. And once the NRA goes down at the polls a few more times, perhaps our politicians will begin to lose their fear of Charlton Heston’s shadow.
At the same time Seattle voters overwhelmingly approved measures funding both transit expansion and universal preschool. Nobody really expected the former to fail, but with all the public confusion over Metro’s finances, I guess anything was possible. And universal preschool faced a surprisingly hostile and mean-spirited opposition from folks with whom I’m usually aligned, so I figured anything could’ve happened. But the Seattle electorate came through once again, voting to tax itself to fund the programs we desperately need.
Over the past year Seattle led the charge on the minimum wage, and following our success here, voters approved minimum wage hikes yesterday in a number of cities and states. In fact, San Francisco will actually beat us to $15 after voters massively approved a straight-up three-year phase-in for all workers by 2018—not exemptions, no tip credit, no nothing.
We need to remain vigilant as Seattle’s preschool program is implemented in order to fend off the corporate reformers. But my hope is that if we successfully implement a program here, cities and states throughout the nation will eventually follow our lead, just like they are doing on the minimum wage.
So yeah… I’m actually not so bummed the morning after. Dems lost as big as I expected Dems to lose, and that totally sucks. More on what we need to do to turn that around in a subsequent post. But on the ballot issues that will have the most immediate impact on our city—preschool, transit, and gun control—Seattle residents won big.
Focus on the local. That is the lesson—in more ways than one—that progressives should take from yesterday’s election.