NPI's Cascadia Advocate

Offering commentary and analysis from Washington, Oregon, and Idaho, The Cascadia Advocate is the Northwest Progressive Institute's unconventional perspective on world, national, and local politics.

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

Happy New Year: Welcome 2012!

On behalf of NPI’s staff, board, and con­trib­u­tors, I’d like to wish every read­er of The Advo­cate — and every sup­port­er of NPI — a hap­py and blessed New Year 2012. I hope you’re enjoy­ing the occa­sion, no mat­ter where in the world you are.

As evi­denced by the pho­to below, I was on Queen Anne when the clock struck twelve, and watched the 2012 edi­tion of the New Year’s at the Nee­dle fire­works show from what I think you’ll agree was a pret­ty good van­tage point.

Fireworks go off at the Space Needle for New Year's

The grand finale of New Year’s at the Nee­dle, 2012 edi­tion. (Pho­to: Andrew Villeneuve/NPI)

The show ran for about eight min­utes and there were no hic­cups or com­put­er prob­lems, unlike a few years ago. It was­n’t the most spec­tac­u­lar fire­works show I’ve seen, but it was still fun to watch. The tran­si­tions in between the dif­fer­ent sets were pret­ty smooth, and the col­ors fre­quent­ly alter­nat­ed. At times there were a lot of blues; at oth­er times, reds lit up the Space Needle’s Obser­va­tion Deck.

2011 was not the best of years. Leg­isla­tive­ly, it was dom­i­nat­ed by grid­lock, bick­er­ing, and coun­ter­pro­duc­tive aus­ter­i­ty mea­sures at the state and fed­er­al lev­el that are hin­der­ing recov­ery. Abroad, untold num­bers of peo­ple died as a con­se­quence of the iron grip of ruth­less, destruc­tive regimes like Syr­i­a’s.

As a team, we have many wish­es for 2012. Fore­most among them is that we will learn to do a bet­ter job as a move­ment telling our sto­ry and com­mu­ni­cat­ing our val­ues. We can’t expect or rely on Demo­c­ra­t­ic office­hold­ers to do it. Many of them are neolib­er­als (rather than true lib­er­als) any­way. We need to be able to speak for our­selves. And our coun­try­men and coun­try­women need to hear from us.

We are com­mit­ted to doing all we can to help­ing pro­gres­sives learn how to com­mu­ni­cate bet­ter in this high-stakes pres­i­den­tial elec­tion year. Our val­ues (free­dom, oppor­tu­ni­ty, broad pros­per­i­ty, fair­ness, pro­tec­tion) are Amer­i­ca’s finest tra­di­tion­al val­ues. All of our pol­i­cy direc­tions are built on those val­ues. When we talk about our pol­i­cy direc­tions, we have to con­nect them to our val­ues. For instance, Dis­abil­i­ty Life­line is not some abstract “gov­ern­ment pro­gram” — it’s a vital ser­vice that gives dis­ad­van­taged Wash­ing­to­ni­ans a hand up rather than a handout. Dis­abil­i­ty Life­line embod­ies oppor­tu­ni­ty.

Mid­way through 2012, the peo­ple of Wash­ing­ton may be asked to approve a rev­enue pack­age to keep vital pub­lic ser­vices like Dis­abil­i­ty Life­line from being evis­cer­at­ed. That rev­enue pack­age won’t have a chance if con­ser­v­a­tives are able to frame the debate around it. We must reframe the debate so Wash­ing­to­ni­ans get what com­mon wealth means — and how, through pool­ing our resources, we can accom­plish more than we could alone.

We must help our fel­low cit­i­zens under­stand that tax­es are pub­lic invest­ments.

And right now, invest­ment is what our econ­o­my needs more than any­thing else. We won’t become more pros­per­ous by tear­ing apart our social safe­ty net, defer­ring infra­struc­ture improve­ments, or mak­ing col­lege unaf­ford­able for all but a wealthy few. Let’s work to make 2012 a turn­ing point: the point when we turn back the dan­ger­ous, tox­ic red tide of aus­ter­i­ty that has been threat­en­ing our well-being.

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