Local Republicans released their plan for getting out of the political wilderness in 2018. It sounds awfully similar to what hasn’t worked for them in this state in decades.
Just as Democrats are lost in the wilderness nationally, Republicans locally are now out of power across all branches of state government.
So what’s the GOP plan for making a comeback? They revealed it at the preview to the state Legislative session this past week.
It can be summed up in two words: Attack Seattle.
“The ‘Emerald City Curtain’ — Washington’s new dividing line,” a GOP memo heralded.
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“The dividing line we see today in this state seems more to follow the Seattle city limits,” the memo says. “The Emerald City Curtain is more about attitude than geography, fueled by affluence and an overweening sense of enlightenment.”
The memo calls the city itself a “Land of Oz” that “threatens Washington’s economy and way of life,” and blames it for all manner of ills from threatening to “drive the tech industry out of state” to hostility against manufacturers to fomenting ideological extremism.
“More than ever, our colleagues are dominated by an elite Seattle ‘we-know-better’ outlook,” state Sen. Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, says in a statement, which he headlined “The challenge for 2018 — pulling back the Emerald City Curtain.”
Metaphor check: If Republicans are the ones pulling back the curtain, that makes them … Toto the dog. Do I have that right?
Anyway, I’ll take this opportunity to channel the Munchkins and say: Ding dong, this whole Seattle-is-a-witch thing is dead. Or it ought to be.
Seriously, GOP: I’m sure Seattle-mocking gets a few laughs over at party headquarters in the distant land of … Bellevue. I see you have an entire section of your party website devoted to chronicling “Distinctly Embarrassing Moments for Seattle” (get it, that spells out DEMS).
But news flash: It doesn’t work.
I can’t recall anyone running against Seattle and winning statewide since former U.S. Sen. Slade Gorton in the early 1990s. I guess Tim Eyman does it still, with his initiatives. But he’s hardly on a winning jag, having failed to even qualify any of his last four initiatives for the ballot.
There was that memorable time in 2006 when a GOP Senate candidate, Mike McGavick, kicked off his campaign in Spokane with this joke: “I like to say I was born in Seattle when you weren’t embarrassed to say you were from Seattle.” Say what? He lost to Maria Cantwell by 17 percentage points.
Then the next decade saw hordes of embarrassed people flocking to our shameful city. Even last fall, with Seattle’s most visible feature being its wild popularity in the form of rampant population growth, a slew of candidates all curiously based their campaigns on depicting it as some sort of socialist hellscape.
A slate of four candidates in Burien sent flyers showing Seattle as a traffic-jammed, needle-pocked Hooverville. A Republican in the Eastside’s 45th Legislative District ran as the anti-Seattleite personified, calling the city “a real threat” to the rest of the state.
She lost. All four Burien candidates lost. Seattle-deriding businessman Peter Zieve in Mukilteo lost by 33 percentage points. These were all in elections conducted completely outside city limits.
It’s also worth noting that when Seattle-ish policy ideas do get on the ballot statewide, they often pass. Seattle is only 10 percent of the population, but somehow a $4 boost to the minimum wage got 57 percent of the statewide vote in 2016. Same-sex marriage won by seven points, legal pot by 11 in 2012. Background checks for guns won by a landslide 18 in 2014.
So it isn’t true there’s a dividing line at the city limits. Well, except maybe for that income tax.
I know, demonizing and dividing is not confined to Republicans. Barack Obama said rural people cling to guns and religion. Hillary Clinton had her “deplorable” moment. But these comments were stupid and self-defeating, not something to be emulated.
I’m just a Munchkin, so I’m sure they won’t take it from me, but Republicans are never going to win with this Land of Oz attitude. Whatever one thinks of our City Council, Seattle remains an economic machine, and its tech-fueled influence is only growing. Trying to wall the city off is political suicide. Plus it’s dumb.
Speaking of which, there’s a great scene in the Wizard of Oz where Dorothy asks the Scarecrow: “How can you talk, if you haven’t got a brain?”
“I don’t know,” he says wisely. “But some people without brains do an awful lot of talking, don’t they?”