History, politics, people of Oly WA

Category: democracy (Page 1 of 3)

Kemmis: A chance to do it right in the West

If Daniel Kemmis isn’t the man for Secretary of Interior, Daniel Kemmis himself has a pretty good list. Former Oregon Governor John Kitzaber for secretary and Courtney White (Quivira Coalition) and Jan Brown (Henry’s Fork Foundation) as undersecretaries would bring the broad coalition building that Western Democrats have been successfully using into the federal government.

Read the entire piece by Kemmis, its very good:

Politically, Democrats are poised to continue the region’s realignment by delivering 30 or more electoral votes in 2012, and perhaps promoting rising stars like the Democratic mayors of Salt Lake City, Boise and Denver to statewide offices. But presidential appointments that simply swing the pendulum back to a “now it’s our turn” approach to public land and resource issues are liable to be perceived as a new “War on the West.” That will certainly make it harder to elect or re-elect Western Democrats and harder to hold and expand Obama’s foothold in the region.

Now there’s an opportunity to move beyond the pendulum swings in policy that produce more gridlock, more litigation, more bitterness and less sustainable protection of Western ecosystems and ways of life. Westerners should be using every ounce of influence they have with the transition team to make sure that opportunity isn’t lost.

Democrats haven’t become a stronger party in the West since 2000 because Westerners have over eight years given up on being libertarian-bent conservatives.

First, there are a lot of smart Democrats out in the West who have made their moves since Bush came into office.

Also, Bush (a Southern fried style religious Republican) was a nice foil for those smart Western Dems to leverage against, just as previous Democratic administrations were for Republicans.

Don’t give Western Republicans any ammo, its time to do it right in the West.

Why Daniel Kemmis should be appointed Interior Secretary

Les Blumenthal writes a headscratcher about how Obama will relate to the West:

Here’s the question: What does a community organizer from Chicago who spent four years in the Senate before being elected president know about spotted owls, endangered salmon, mountain bark beetles, Western water rights, old-growth forests and the maintenance backlog in the national parks?

The answer: Probably not much.

That’s a bit of an unfair characterization. While Obama may not know that much about the technical aspects of governing the West, his experience as a grassroots organizer would put him smack dab in the middle of the spiritual center of the West’s recent history of conflict.

To put it bluntly, Obama knows all about the West. The conflicts the federal government has been fighting for the past 30 or so years in the West have been against Western versions of Obama.

Organizers (sage brush rebels) who want a distant bureaucracy to not roll over their communities. People who have rallied their neighbors to effect change.

The person Obama would appoint as the federal government’s liaison to the West would be someone who could engage the federal government in not fighting the old fights. Rather, that Interior secretary would attempt to break down the old walls that divide communities, corporations, users of public land, environmentalists and local governments.

Daniel Kemmis
, has a deep history of a politician (mayor, state house speaker), writer and thinker. It also needs to be said that Kemmis is one of the most Western of Western Democrats. He wouldn’t be seen as a Democrat from the Pacific Coast or east divebombing into the interior West, ready to put the leg-irons of a distant bureaucracy on an entire region.

His short and dirty prescription for Obama’s approach to the West:

Daniel Kemmis, director of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana and an influential Democrat, said Obama should listen to Democratic elected officials who gained their offices by working with both environmentalists and industry and governing from the middle. Historically, Democrats wrote off the West and Republicans took it for granted. But this time wins in Colorado, Nevada and New Mexico were crucial to Obama’s victory.

“I think it would be foolish for a new Democratic administration to treat the West in the same way it has been treated in the past,” Kemmis said.

Kemmis and Chris Wood, chief operating officer of Trout Unlimited, hope the Obama administration works with Western states, loggers, sportsmen and other land users to craft compromises like Idaho’s own compromise on its 9 million acres of roadless national forest lands.

“The lesson of the last eight years is that when you listen to local people, you can still gain significant conservation benefits,” Wood said.

Kemmis’s less short and dirty prescription is “This Sovereign Land,” an Obama-esque outline for how the West can be governed in a new way with everyone at the table.

From the dust jacket:

In This Sovereign Land, Daniel Kemmis offers a radical new proposal for giving the West control over its land. Unlike those who wish to privatize the public lands and let market forces decide their fate, Kemmis, a leading western Democrat and committed environmentalist, argues for keeping the public lands public, but for shifting jurisdiction over them from nation to region. In place of the current centralized management, he offers a regional approach that takes into account natural topographical and ecological features, and brings together local residents with a vested interest in ensuring the sustainability of their communities. In effect, Kemmis carries to their logical conclusion the recommendations about how the West should be governed made by John Wesley Powell more than a century ago.Throughout, Kemmis argues that the West no longer needs to be protected against itself by a paternalistic system and makes a compelling case that the time has come for the region to claim sovereignty over its own landscape.

Soon to be President Obama has the opportunity to change the game in the West. Kemmis would be able to bring the kind of change to Western governance that we hope happens throughout the country.

Hey, lookee here, Top Two didn’t hurt parties in swing districts

Kari from Blue Oregon pokes a nice big hole in one of the main arguments in the Top Two primary, that a major party could be “aced out” (boy I love that term this morning) in a swing district:

The argument goes something like this: In a top-two primary, situations would arise in which districts that are usually closely divided between the Democrats and Republicans could wind up with a general election featuring two candidates from the same party – effectively wiping out the other party’s “right” to contest a close seat in the November election. Presumably, that situation could arise with four (or more) candidates tightly bunched together — say Donnie Democrat 26%, Lucy Liberal 25%, Ralph Republican 24%, Connie Conservative 23%. And while the Democrats combined for only 51% of the vote, they would get 100% of the spots in the general election (acing out the GOP.)

But here’s the thing: In Washington’s inaugural top-two primary, across 124 separate legislative races, that didn’t happen a single time. In fact, in every single swing district, the top two candidates were one Democrat and one Republican.

Read his entire post, its well worth your time.

Also, given the weird situation with Halvorson, Romero and whatever the Republican’s name was, this “swing districts will still elect a Republican and a Democrat” theory holds water.

Election day China thoughts

Other than some early morning soccer games, I watched the first night of Olympics last night, pushing these thoughts to the front.

From one of the best political books I’ve read:

For those concerned about democracy and freedom in our world, there is no more important place than China. …A decisive step by China onto the road to democracy would by itself — in population terms — be no less significant than each of the previous “waves” of global democratization. Indeed, it might well bring many of the remaining dictatorships in the world through to democracy.

From President George W. Bush’s second inaugural:

The survival of liberty in our land increasingly depends on the success of liberty in other lands. The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in all the world.


RE: Political Parties Reap What They Sow

You can’t pull at the edges of our electoral system and not expect the voters to react:

The Republicans and the Democrats are also complaining about Initiative 872.

Well, that is just two bad for these political parties. They are now reaping what they sowed. They took away the right of the people to vote in a truly democratic manner, and now they complain and whine about the alternative chosen by those self-same voters. There is a movement in King County to make all county elected positions non-partisan. Hopefully, this effort will succeed, and another voter initiative will drive the authoritarian political parties out the door. The parties started this battle, and now the voters need to finish it. The voters need to make every state office, from the governor to the legislature, legally and publicly non-partisan.

From everything I’ve heard, the state parties have decided to continue to challenge the Top Two primary. By nominating our own candidates, we’re supposed to be able to show damages when those candidates don’t make it to the general election ballot.

If the courts then do strike down the Top Two, putting back the Montana Primary, the Grange has said they’re going after a true non-partisan system.

“they should be working to make all citizens more political”

Nafzblog writes about the flip side of the Monica Goodling effect:

In 1992, after the Clinton election, I flew to Washington D.C. with Governor Booth Gardner who met with four western governors to discuss cabinet posts with Clinton’s transition team. Cecil Andrus, Carter Interior Secretary and Governor of Idaho described his frustration in trying to set out a new direction for Interior upon Carter’s election. Every turn or change was thwarted and opposed by the internal bureaucrats. He skillfully laid out the need to root out the embedded Interior bureaucracy that had thrived under 12 years of Republican rule. Bush, facing the same problem after 8 years of Democratic rule met the same charge of “politicizing” government.

While Washington is considered by virtually every governing organization or magazine as one of the top three best managed states, Rossi has a point when he says the same people have ruled Washington’s state government for 25 years. As one of those Democratic insiders, I often wonder why new ideas and approaches are so easily ignored.

Much of the media and good government crowd have spent a lot of time trying to exorcise politics from governing. Instead, they should be working to make all citizens more political. Only through elections and politics is there ever any semblance of changes, creativity, checks and balances.

I wish there was more of a “lay all the cards on the table” sort of attitude towards politics. That, instead of avoiding it as a topic and trying to remove it because its an uncomfortable topic, accept it because it is an important topic. Accept others’ ideas and don’t let them become enemies because you disagree with them.

Another reason I don’t feel bad for third parties in the Top Two

More on this:

Twenty seven legislative candidates are running unopposed this year.

Down by 12 from the all time high of 39 two years ago, but still a weirdly high number for people interested in healthy democracy. And, I would assume that anyone who would give their time to a third party would be someone interested in a healthy democracy.

If you’re a member or a leader of a third party, and you think the Top Two primary hurts your organization because it forces you off the November ballot, look at the 27 seats where there will only be one candidate in November (hell, one candidate in August).

Then, ask yourself why your party didn’t file a candidate in that district.

Don’t waste that stamp mailing your ballot (24 locations to drop off your ballot)

In Thurston County, you don’t have to bother putting a stamp on your ballot, because there are 24 locations throughout the county where you can easily drop your ballot off.

Here’s my map last time I checked (some are missing because they’ve added more locations. And here’s the updated list from the county.

Chances are you will drive close to one of these locations between right now and the 19th.

Now remember, we live in a Republic

One of the funniest things I hear from conservatives is “now, remember, we live in a Republic, not a democracy,” and then they spout off about how that actually limits our own control of government.

Anyway, that’s not what Republic means. Rather than direct democracy, the framers assumed that citizens would be so damn close to their government, that there would be no chance that it would get out of control.

For example, guns. The recent gun rights decision actually makes a lot of sense to me as a liberal Democrat. There would be very little chance of anyone raising a militia if individuals didn’t have the right to bear arms.

But, bearing those arms should be to the benefit of society as a whole. It should be the better protection of our communities and our neighbors.

Gary Hart wrote a great book almost ten years ago, The Minuteman: Restoring an Army of the People, that turns the gun rights argument on its head:

The Framers of our Constitution had a fear of standing armies, and of governments backed by them, that one legal scholar calls “almost hysterical.” A standing army of professionals, they were sure, would eventually do one of two things: agitate for foreign military adventures to keep itself employed, or turn against its civilian masters to create a military dictatorship. To these two political threats they added a third, moral danger: that citizens used to relying on professionals for the defense of their liberties would come to take their freedom lightly.

The Framers’ solution was the militia, an armed body that included all citizens qualified to vote. Whites without property were also eligible for the militia, provided they were not felons, and so were some blacks. The Framers saw this broad-based military institution as a vital protection against tyranny.

Every citizen had the right to own a gun because every citizen, in a republic, was responsible for that republic continuing.

You may have an individual right to bear arms, but that right comes with a societal mortgage that needs to be paid.

How do we pay that in an age of professional armies and police forces?

Another great discussion at History Beating Up Politics.

Response to Eyman’s plea for contributions: crickets

The financing of Tim Eyman’s campaigns are more tied to a small number of large contributors than a large amount of small ones. His failure as a leader of a popular movement continues.

Remember in early May when Tim Eyman said that he’d have to mortage his home to the tune of $250,000 to raise enough money to fund I-985? Ever wonder how that turned out?

Not so great:

Full spreadsheet here.

Since his public appeal, the For I-985 campaign has raised just over $90,000 out of their total $499,000 (as of the end of May, the most recent data available from the PDC).

Basically, since he made a call to his supporters, the campaign has collected less money than before he made his call to supporters. While there have been almost as many total contributors in the month after May 1 (227) than there were in the four months before (298), that increase in total contributions has hardly made a dent in what Eyman had said he needs to raise ($250,000).

And, it seems like from eye-balling his reports, those individual contributions are petering out. There were 108 contributions processed on just on May 14, but only 100 in the two weeks since then.

Either way, it isn’t going to be Glenn Smith writing a $20 that is going to get Eyman out of debt.

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