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.

Thursday, October 13th, 2016

Tim Eyman: “All the initiatives are awful this year — vote no over and over and over again”

Big media may think of Don­ald Trump as the star of the 2016 elec­tion cycle, but here in Wash­ing­ton State, the real stars of this elec­tion are not peo­ple, but ideas. Wash­ing­ton’s bal­lot this year fea­tures a pletho­ra of wor­thy pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy pro­pos­als, from rais­ing the min­i­mum wage to pass­ing extreme risk pro­tec­tion orders to putting Wash­ing­ton on record as call­ing for a fed­er­al con­sti­tu­tion­al amend­ment stip­u­lat­ing that cor­po­ra­tions are not peo­ple and mon­ey is not speech.

The right wing, mean­while, failed to qual­i­fy any­thing at all, for the first time in decades. That’s left noto­ri­ous polit­i­cal scam artist Tim Eyman pret­ty disgruntled.

In an email this morn­ing to his fol­low­ers, Eyman bemoaned the pro­gres­sive move­men­t’s dom­i­nance of the bal­lot, instruct­ing his fol­low­ers to sim­ply vote no on every statewide ini­tia­tive plus Sound Tran­sit 3 (which only appears on the bal­lot in urban King, Sno­homish, and Pierce Coun­ty precincts).

The Don­ald Trump admir­er opened his email with this plea: “Don’t let the cra­zies take over the insane asy­lum. All the ini­tia­tives are awful this year — vote NO over and over and over again when you get your ballot.”

By cra­zies, Eyman means us — all the pro­gres­sive orga­ni­za­tions and peo­ple who are work­ing hard to raise our state and region’s qual­i­fy of life. And pre­sum­ably, insane asy­lum is Eyman’s inap­pro­pri­ate, ridicu­lous metaphor for Wash­ing­ton State.

(You know, Tim, if you don’t like liv­ing in a state with a pro­gres­sive major­i­ty, you don’t have to stay here. Amer­i­ca’s a free coun­try. There are states and com­mu­ni­ties else­where in the coun­try you can move to where right wing pol­i­tics predominate.)

The ini­tia­tive hap­pens to be a pro­gres­sive inven­tion. Well-mean­ing activists brought it to Wash­ing­ton State over a hun­dred years ago with the inten­tion of giv­ing the peo­ple the pow­er to enact laws need­ed to pro­tect and improve every­one’s well-being. They pro­mot­ed it as a tool for the com­mon good. They like­ly nev­er imag­ined it being hijacked to serve a mil­i­tant, extrem­ist agenda.

But, sad­ly, that’s what hap­pened in the late 1990s when Tim Eyman came along. Eyman real­ized the ini­tia­tive could be wield­ed as a weapon, and he made qual­i­fy­ing schemes to defund pub­lic ser­vices and wreck gov­ern­ment his business.

In his ear­ly years, Eyman pre­tend­ed to be an unpaid vol­un­teer, but was even­tu­al­ly forced to admit he was divert­ing mon­ey from his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry to line his own pock­ets. Eyman sub­se­quent­ly dropped his ini­tia­tive fac­to­ry’s Per­ma­nent Offense moniker, but did not aban­don the con­cept that had prompt­ed its name, and was able to keep going even after hav­ing been caught with his hand in the cook­ie jar.

The stem of pro­gres­sive is progress. Progress in a demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety is only pos­si­ble when peo­ple are giv­en the oppor­tu­ni­ty for vote for a bet­ter future… in oth­er words, when the qual­i­fied elec­tors of the soci­ety have the abil­i­ty to elect rep­re­sen­ta­tives who will make their com­mu­ni­ties freer, safer, and more pros­per­ous, or approve laws them­selves that would do the same.

When elec­tions are a choice between the sta­tus quo or going back­wards, there is no oppor­tu­ni­ty for progress. It’s vital that pro­gres­sives oppose destruc­tive schemes like Eyman’s ini­tia­tives, but is even more vital that pro­gres­sives offer Wash­ing­to­ni­ans the oppor­tu­ni­ty to vote on ideas that will make our state better.

And that’s exact­ly what is hap­pen­ing in 2016. To Eyman’s cha­grin, pro­gres­sives this year are once again using the ini­tia­tive in accor­dance with its orig­i­nal intend­ed pur­pose — allow­ing cit­i­zens to vote on wor­thy ideas that died or could not get trac­tion in the Leg­is­la­ture. Mean­while, he’s got noth­ing. More sig­nif­i­cant­ly, nei­ther do any of his con­fed­er­ates. Pro­gres­sives own Wash­ing­ton’s 2016 ballot.

That’s a big deal. It is very, very sat­is­fy­ing to see Eyman in the posi­tion of hav­ing to call for a NO vote on every ini­tia­tive that’s in front of Wash­ing­ton vot­ers this year.

We at NPI enthu­si­as­ti­cal­ly sup­port most of the ideas on the bal­lot in 2016. We urge a YES vote on I‑1433, I‑1491, I‑1501, I‑735, SJR 8210, and Sound Tran­sit 3/Regional Propo­si­tion 1. Though we are unable to sup­port I‑732 or I‑1464 due to defects in each, we would def­i­nite­ly like to see suc­ces­sor ini­tia­tives or bills that would tack­le the same prob­lems those mea­sures seek to address.

Polling indi­cates that all of the ini­tia­tives we sup­port are like­ly to pass, because vot­ers like them. That’s very good news. But we need to be ready as a move­ment to build on these poten­tial suc­cess­es by qual­i­fy­ing even more pro­gres­sive ideas to the bal­lot in 2017 and 2018. Our research shows that vot­ers are hun­gry for pro­gres­sive rev­enue reform and cor­po­rate tax account­abil­i­ty. If the Leg­is­la­ture will not act on these pri­or­i­ties, then the peo­ple must be giv­en a chance to.

That is, after all, one of the uses for which the ini­tia­tive was actu­al­ly intend­ed. In the words of the Direct Leg­is­la­tion League, the lead­ing pro­po­nents of bring­ing the ini­tia­tive, ref­er­en­dum, and recall to our cor­ner of the country:

We shall need the Ini­tia­tive in the future to secure the pas­sage of just tax laws. Past expe­ri­ence indi­cates that tax dodg­ing inter­ests will pow­er­ful­ly oppose such laws.

– 1900s era DLL pam­phlet, archived by the Wash­ing­ton State Library

As we fin­ish out this elec­tion cycle, we must com­mit our­selves to stay­ing on offense and bring­ing an end to the Eyman error. A bet­ter future is with­in reach if we can con­tin­ue to give the peo­ple the pow­er to vote on the pro­gres­sive ideas we need.

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2 Comments

  1. I think you meant cor­po­ra­tions are not persons.

    I enjoyed the rest of the arti­cle. I wish New Jer­sey was more progressive.

    # by Larry Lennhoff :: October 15th, 2016 at 6:10 PM
  2. Bernie Sanders ran a great pro­gres­sive cam­paign this year call­ing out the extreme wealth a few peo­ple have accumulated–and their buy­ing off the polit­i­cal process with it. He did­n’t win the Demo­c­ra­t­ic nom­i­na­tion, but Wash­ing­ton still has a chance to fight the unde­mo­c­ra­t­ic pow­er of a few bil­lion­aires and cor­po­ra­tions with I‑1464. When politi­cians are bought off by very small num­bers of very wealthy peo­ple, that’s who they rep­re­sent. That’s who they vote for. That’s who they fund. That’s who they agree to meet with and whose calls they take. I know because I worked in Con­gress myself. Peer-reviewed stud­ies (http://www.bbc.com/news/blogs-echochambers-27074746) even say the US isn’t a democ­ra­cy any­more because the gov­ern­ment is so thor­ough­ly owned by a tiny num­ber of super-rich peo­ple; most of us can’t afford to buy any rep­re­sen­ta­tion. Politi­cians should be owned by and account­able to the peo­ple, not the wealthy few. If WE owned the politi­cians; a few rich folks, unions, or cor­po­ra­tions could­n’t buy them off. This ini­tia­tive even gives the fund­ing deci­sions to US so that WE can decide who gets our share of cam­paign funding. 

    This is not par­ti­san, ide­o­log­i­cal, or even fis­cal. It’s about restor­ing democ­ra­cy so it works like it’s sup­posed to. Vote Yes.

    # by Jon Morgan :: November 5th, 2016 at 6:07 PM
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