Wednesday, November 09, 2005

Initiative 912 Defeat Due To Leadership and Voter Common Sense

The defeat of Initiative 912 by Washington State voters on Tuesday is a hopeful sign that the State is moving back to common sense politics and trusting the judgment of our elected representatives. The endorsement by the majority of people of the transportation gas tax by their no vote on Initiative 912 stands as wonderful example of bi-partisan compromising and the timely application of leadership.

At the same time it a hopeful sign that we are moving away from government by rightwing radio wing nuts and novelty salesman “just say no to everything” initiatives. And back to trusting the judgment of representatives we elect to lead us exercising their judgment to reject or pass laws through our legislature that make Washington a better place to live. The Tim Eyman’s of the world should take notice that perhaps a new day is dawning in state politics. I like many others certainly hope so.

Governor Christine Gregoire must be given credit for her last minute arm-twisting during the last session of the state legislature to get the transportation package through a mined field of reluctant legislators who are extremely hesitant to lead on the controversial tax increase legislation. Most state lawmakers are more concerned about how their constituents will vote in the next election than demonstrating chutzpah and taking a stand on a tough issue.

Gregoire definitely demonstrated a different approach then what we were used to when in the dying days of the last legislative session she went to the floor of the capitol and began twisting the arms of members of both political caucuses, the business lobby and labor. I think it’s widely perceived that her predecessor in the Governor’s mansion, Gary Locke, would be more restrained in a similar situation during his time as governor and generally reluctant to knock heads with Republicans when it came to controversial legislation. Especially legislation that involved raising taxes. This often led to political constipation and malaise in state government during his time as governor. It also often frustrated Democrats.

It would be correct to argue that the needs of transportation would not of been address if the Democrats had not most recently gained control of the House and Senate in Olympia. For many years the legislature was split House against Senate or oddly split down the middle in the House. This made for a general lack of action on transportation and other tax heavy legislation. Republicans just saying no to any tax and Democrats reluctant to give the Republicans the right to blame them at election time for raising taxes if they should be able to maneuver a bill through Republican control committees or caucus roadblocks.

I must admit I had my doubts about Gregoire ability to lead prior to her election. But I think that she has demonstrated guts and leadership since she has been in office. Last nights election should stand historically as the end of her probationary period as Washington’s Governor.

The corporations that comprise the “enlighten” business community also need to be given credit for signing on from the beginning to defeat Initiative 912. Part of the deal struck in Olympia when the tax passed the legislature was that they would oppose any initiative to repeal it. This promise convinced a necessary number of moderate Westside Republicans to support the bill’s ultimate passage with their vote.

Corporations like Microsoft and Boeing acted responsibly and in their own interested by bankrolling the no on 912 campaigns. Labor unions also understood that the modernizing of the states transportation system was important to their member’s well being because it would create high paying jobs.

Finally something has to be said for the great number of liberal and Democrat activists and/or bloggers out there who continued to hammer home the message. BlatherWatch, HorsesAss.org, Washington Defense, Washington State Political Report, Better Donkey Pacific Northwest Portal all deserve to feel good about this victory for common sense politics.

Of course, the voters deserve most of the credit for demonstrating their common sense in the face of a barrage of rightwing BS.

Now lets build some infrastructure!

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