Sunny Jay Inslee tried to bring a little sunshine into the state Capitol Tuesday. But our strange gloom blocked any light.
That Sunny Jay. He tried to bring a little sunshine into the state Capitol.
From the title of his big speech (A State of Confidence) to the speech’s conclusion (Go Hawks), Gov. Jay Inslee tried to tell state lawmakers Tuesday that things are actually pretty good around here.
“This is a confident state,” Inslee declared in his State of the State speech. “So it deserves a confident Legislature. It deserves a confident governor … I see the greatness of this state. I feel it. I believe it. It’s who we are. And that is how we’re going to approach this session. Not with temerity. But with confidence.”
He might as well have said: “What the heck is everyone so dad-gummed gloomy about?”
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Because sure enough, Republicans trooped to the mic later and did their best Eeyore.
OK, unemployment may have plunged to single digits in all 39 counties, they said. But that’s only because so many workers have dropped out of the work pool in despair!
So maybe we do lead the nation in business growth, they stipulated. But any effort to address climate change will destroy all that!
All right, so growth and development look to be surging. But still the big problem is that it takes way too long to get a building permit!
These are odd times. In the political world, it’s a major downer. But reality stubbornly isn’t cooperating.
After years of warnings that regulations or taxes would kill jobs and devastate the fragile economy, the economy peskily continues to boom. Especially locally. The national Business Insider publication Monday did a ranking of the economies of all 50 states, based on growth in business, jobs and wages. Coming in at No. 1: Gloomsville itself.
We’re No. 1 by a longshot. In the fall quarter Washington state’s annualized growth rate “was a stunning 8.0%, by far the highest among the states,” the site noted. Long-stagnant wages also are starting to go up — by 5.6 percent last quarter versus a year ago.
Even Sunny Jay seemed unaware of that last part. He repeated the trope that “people are working longer hours and getting paid less.” Well no, apparently they’re finally getting paid more. That should be good news, right?
It’s the same story with crime rates, which are mostly down, and graduation rates, which are up, and the medically uninsured rates, which are way down, and so on.
None of it seems to register. People are still hacked off.
Local pollster Stuart Elway did a survey of 500 registered voters in Washington state last week and found that optimism about the state and the country had plunged from a year ago, by 40 percent.
People are more pessimistic now than they were even in 2009, the height of the recession.
“It’s tricky to get at why,” Elway said. “But people keep hearing that disaster is just around the corner. These Republicans, my God, they talk as if the second Depression is coming and ISIS is going to murder you in your bed.”
He was referring to the national GOP presidential candidates. They routinely paint America as a hellscape of joblessness, illegal immigration and despair. The name of the campaign theme book for the GOP front-runner, Donald Trump, says it all: “Crippled America.”
Could it be that the politicians themselves are making an entire nation cranky? It hardly seems a coincidence that optimism plunged in the same time period that this bitter presidential campaign ramped up. Especially while so many other aspects of life seem to be improving.
I don’t know, but recently I tested this theory by turning it off. I briefly left both the mainland U.S. and, more crucially, the world of reliable Internet connections.
What a mood-brightener that turned out to be. It was remarkable, for me anyway, how much more positively I viewed the world when I wasn’t listening to people bad-mouth it day after day.
Sure we’ve got problems, and those deserve most of the attention they get. I’m sure I’ll be back to ranting about those shortly. I promise, I’m not turning into Sunny Danny.
But I will throw this piece of advice into the strange gloom of 2016: Try to tune out the fear-peddling politicians from time to time. It’s amazingly refreshing for your mental health.