Politics at the state Capitol in Olympia have mostly been a polite and bipartisan affair. But a slew of bills just filed suggest the right wing, emboldened by Donald Trump’s victory, is feeling its oats.
In case you were wondering whether Trumpism would start puncturing our blue West Coast bubble, state lawmakers got busy this past week putting to rest any doubts.
Long pent-up conservative legislators filed a slew of bills in Olympia that, taken together, serve as a sort of Trump rebel yell for the triumphant right wing.
None of the bills have much chance of going anywhere — we’re still a blue state. Of course, I figured Trump didn’t have much chance of going anywhere either. So I’ve learned my lesson: In this new era, I now take seriously even the most ludicrous-sounding ideas.
Example: One of the first bills introduced for the upcoming legislative session is to allow sports fans to bring their guns into the stadium.
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You see, CenturyLink Field and Safeco Field, both situated in the People’s Republic of Seattle but run by private operators, have strict no-gun policies. That’s because they both know it’s patently insane to fill stadiums with pumped-up, drinking, heavily-armed fanatics.
Plus they’ve had enough trouble just controlling off-duty Bellevue police officers.
Yet three Republican lawmakers have decided stadium safety would, in fact, be enhanced if the bare-chested guy next to you in face paint is also packing to defend you from ISIS.
Oh well, think of the home-field advantage we’d have for the Seahawks if the 12s were all armed.
Another Trumpian idea, for its sheer disingenuous simplicity, comes from my right-wing kook friend Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane. I call him a friend because he’s a good guy and we once aligned on the idea of cutting tuition at state universities. But most of what he comes up with is totally bonkers.
Example: The Supreme Court is holding the state in contempt for not making K-12 education its “paramount duty,” as the state constitution says it must. This is a very tough issue that calls on state leaders to work together, for wealthy areas to support the poor, and for difficult choices to be made about spending priorities and taxes, all to help fully support the schools.
So what did Baumgartner propose? Just get rid of that pesky, 127-year-old language about education being the most important thing. Do a constitutional amendment to cut out “paramount duty,” and voilà, problem solved!
It’s out-of-the-box thinking like this that could truly Make Washington Great Again — if the time that it was last great was the “barefoot schoolboy” era of the 1880s.
Finally, lawmakers offered up a perennial idea, but with some new urgency this year — that the way to really Make Washington Great Again is to break it in two. Under House Joint Memorial 4000, Eastern Washington would secede from the state.
We here in Puget Sound are apparently harshing their freedom-loving buzz whenever they want to, say, kill some wolves, or log forests or work for sub-minimum wages.
“The Puget Sound rules from its iron throne or ivory tower, take your pick,” said state Rep. Matt Shea, R-Spokane Valley, who is pushing secession.
I like the “Game of Thrones” reference! I’m OK with secession; my only issue is the name they’ve dreamed up for this new state, which is “Liberty.” Outside of Alaska, Eastern Washington is maybe the most subsidized, government-backed region in the nation, from the dam-irrigation system to the billions of tax dollars flowing into Hanford to King County propping up its schools, roads and hospitals.
Liberty? Try “Reliant.” Or go Trump-style and just call it “Welfare State.”
But seriously, there’s more — bills to roll back abortion rights, to restart the transgender-bathroom controversy, to end the separation of church and state in education, and so on. These are not bills before the Alabama or North Carolina legislatures, but here.
Our Legislature doesn’t convene for a month, but already one message is clear: Trumpism is rising. It’s in the minority here, still, but it’s loose in the land. Whatever bipartisan cooperation they’ve managed in the past down there could be harder than ever to achieve.