Civic Duty Calls

Civic Duty Calls
I might be an old tired curmudgeon. But civic duty sometimes demands that we stand up and speak up. (image from
Showing posts with label 5th Congressional District. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 5th Congressional District. Show all posts

Feb 26, 2017

My Challenge ... Right Here in my Own Back Yard

What can we do to challenge the powers that be within a two-party system that is actually not useful in its current form?

We start right where we live ... right here at home.

In thinking about what I might do and how I might do it, I did some research into what shakes up a system on the local level. Obviously perhaps the most powerful individual personal shake-up at the local level is that of an incumbent who is challenged for election and then who loses that election.

In 1995 the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives was Representative Tom Foley, the U.S. Representative from Washington's 5th District. Foley was a Democrat who was first elected in 1964 at the urging of Senator Scoop Jackson. Foley was re-elected 15 times. After his 13th election win, Foley was elected Speaker of the House, taking the place of another Democrat who had stepped down because of an ethics scandal.

Foley was re-elected for two more terms. But then was challenged by George Nethercutt in 1994.

"During his time in the House, Foley repeatedly opposed efforts to impose term limits on Washington state's elected officials, winning the support of the state's voters to reject term limits in a 1991 referendum; however, in 1992, a term limit ballot initiative was approved by the state's voters.
Foley brought suit, challenging the constitutionality of a state law setting eligibility requirements on federal offices. Foley won his suit, with a United States district court declaring that states did not have the authority under the United States Constitution to limit the terms of federal officeholders.
However, in Foley's bid for a 16th term in the House,   his Republican opponent, George Nethercutt, used the issue against him, properly citing the caption of the federal case brought by Foley, 'Foley against the People of the State of Washington'. Nethercutt vowed that if elected, he himself would not serve more than three terms in the House.
Foley lost in a narrow race. While Foley had usually relied on large margins in Spokane to carry him to victory, in 1994 he won Spokane by only 9,000 votes, while Nethercutt did well enough in the rest of the district to win overall by just under 4,000 votes.
Foley became the first sitting Speaker of the House to lose his bid for re-election since Galusha A. Grow in 1862. He is sometimes viewed as a political casualty of the term limits controversy of the early 1990s. - Wikipedia
Nethercutt, who had promised to self-limit to only three terms after replacing Foley who had completed 15 terms, became his own term-limits hypocrite.

In 2000, when his self-imposed three-term limit would have kicked in, Nethercutt changed his mind and announced his intention to run again, infuriating term-limits supporters. Nethercutt was nevertheless re-elected without much difficulty in 2000 and in 2002. - Wikipedia
Nethercutt subsequently decided to reach for another plum. Apparently over-estimating the clout he he thought he had earned in predominately Republican Eastern Washington, he challenged incumbent Democrat Patty Murray. 

The term-limits issue that had helped Nethercutt topple a  Speaker of the House, came back to haunt him when Murray and the Democrats made hay of the same issue with Nethercutt's own broken promise to limit his career in the House to 3 terms.

Furthermore, Nethercutt supported the policies of a controversially unpopular party leader, President George W. Bush, whose invasion of Iraq left his presidential popularity severely tainted. Already an underdog as a Republican candidate in Washington - a so-called Blue State dominated  by Washington's western side - Nethercutt lost to Murray in a landslide.

Nethercutt was succeeded by Cathy McMorris Rodgers, a Republican state legislator who was groomed by her state and national party to insure Republican control of the 5th District and the Eastern side of the state. Rural Eastern Washington1 is overwhelmingly Republican and seems to reflect the harvest of what I can only call a party and media-led campaign of political propaganda. As has happened elsewhere in the United States, the Republican media bullhorn has been extremely effective and very poorly resisted or countered by Democrats. 

As we saw in the recent election successes of Trump and the Republicans, the Democrats failed to take seriously the concerns in many states with urban and rural locales comprised of significant mixed entities. It seemed  that to Democrats, urban liberals are worth more than rural conservatives. The problems of urban liberals have always appeared to be the Democratic path to electoral success.

For the Republicans, not so.

However, when all is said and done, both parties live and die financially by the generosity and greed of donors who are able to hand out fortunes in extremely large amounts. Both parties in fact live or die by acting on the priorities of those who put money in the outstretched hands of folks who promised to look out for us and fight against the outstretched-hand behaviors of everybody but themselves.

Which brings me to our own 5th Congressional District Representative, Cathy McMorris Rodgers. Considered to be the most powerful Republican female in the House of Representatives, if not the party nationally, McMorris Rodgers has essentially marched in lock-step with the Republican Party going back to her days in our state legislature when the grooming-for-the-future began in earnest.

A roster of her legislative accomplishments represents two things:

1) If you read what Cathy McMorris Rodgers proudly touts as her legislative, administrative and compassion record on behalf of residents of Washington, it is important to realize that voters elected her to do those very things; to be wise and perceptive enough to see the needs and initiate the actions.

Doing those things was doing the job she was elected and paid to do.

The truth is that any competent representative - regardless of political party - could justifiably be expected to do a job with the same effectiveness. Otherwise we would be expected to accept  her  political advertising as her declaration that no other human being would have been able to pull off the "miracle" she single-handedly accomplished.

The truth is, we do not elect super candidates who will be able to deliver on any promise such candidates or candidate's party tries to sell.

2) What she has done or not done for our country between 2004 and 2016 vividly reflects what her party has done or not done for country.

For the most part what the Republican Party has legislated is a partisan program for which she represented us by casting supportive party votes. What the party has opposed, likewise is reflected by the votes she cast on our behalf.

These Republican agenda items have been totally ideological to that insane degree that deteriorated - with the election of Barak Obama - to 8 years of total and unrelenting obstruction; something McMorris Rodgers has no proof that her constituency desired that she do.

The circumstance for this disastrous behavior of harming America is revealed by all the good and positive things that could have been done  had time been prioritized to genuinely work on such issues and had not the obstruction dominated the expenditure of government time and taxpayer money.

Since passage of the ACA legislation, the Republican Party has attempted to repeal the 2010 Affordable Care Act (which her party negatively propagandized as "Obamacare,") more than 60 times.

Quite literally, Cathy McMorris Rodgers spent our time and our money trying to repeal a single law -and failed every time - at an outlandish frequency of ten times per year through 2016.

She has - especially over the past 8 years - wasted our time and our money, and has accomplished little. Even today, despite the promises she makes in public, her party does not have a viable or adequate replacement program for the ACA.

In Eastern Washington, voters elected and then re-elected the same campaign-promise-making, rhetoric-spouting Democrat (Foley) for 30 years.

Voters elected and then re-elected the same campaign-promise-making, rhetoric-spouting Republican (Nethercutt) for 12 more years.

The truth is, elected and then re-elected the same campaign-promise-making, rhetoric-spouting Republican (McMorris Rodgers) for 12 more years.

That's 30 years of Democrats followed by 24 years of Republicans. We have - as evidence of such quality representation - a circumstance that has led to the election last year of the most unqualified, inept and self-interested presidential politician in our history.

How did that happen?

I suggest that the principle reason is the capturing of the vaunted American Version of a Two Party System by the power of the lobby that has failed us and  that has proven to be the least useful system by which we can experience wise governance.

                           What's wrong with our two party system?

What can we do to challenge the powers that be within a two-party system that is actually not useful in its current form.

We start right where we live ... right here at home.

Nethercutt was first elected to Congress in 1994 in a dramatic election in which he unseated Tom Foley, the Speaker of the House, .

It was the first time Nethercutt ran for office.

That's why I'm thinking about running.

Feb 15, 2017

Why I Might Run .. I have my reasons

I recall the time when my interest in politics was something akin to, but less than, my intense interest in the NBA, MLB and the NFL. Winners and losers in local, state and national elections were mostly a matter of "Did the person I like win or lose?" There was very little if any interest on my part in initiatives, law-making or the rising and falling fortunes of our political parties.

Today I'm an old veteran with no hair, high blood pressure and military memories going back to the early 1970's when Jane Fonda was a swear word and my cousin somehow got into the National Guard and I didn't. Had I waited another six months before enlisting, the new draft lottery which placed my birthday at the 350+ level would have meant that I, like Mr. Cheney, could have pursued my "other priorities."

Somewhere I've got an old hard-cardboard Schlitz beer-box with enough military records in it to prove I went and to prove I did. There's a bunch of ribbons down there in a glass jar where sometime I'll go down and look at them. There's an air-medal (and maybe a cluster) that are still in their containers. There's little sterling silver wings that my commander told me I could wear even when not on flying status after completing ten combat missions. They're all down there to prove I went and did.

When I was studying Russian at Syracuse University, Woodstock happened less than 100 miles away. I wasn't about to drive over and see that. I was too mad at Jane Fonda - mad about her movie Barbarella and its flaunting R-rated morals-challenged images which had offended my youthful moral view of the world. Oh and I was incensed by her Hanoi activities.

Funny how time changes perspectives. My Millenial kids are outraged that in 1968 I deliberately refused to go to Woodstock.

I agree with them. What was I thinking?

Was my patriotism so shallow that rain, mud, outlandish music, naked women and pot smoke could rock my foundation as a true American?

I'm embarrassed about what I thought was important when I was 22 and what I did and didn't do about it.

Yet, here I am today, a retired and stay-at-home repository of all my experience which is the only source of wisdom I have to offer my kids and grandkids.  I sure as heck am not going to teach my kids that military veterans are long on judgment and condemnation and short on forgiveness.

Most veterans have seen enough in life to know that there's not much useful in taking an "I'll never forgive you for that!" attitude in most areas of life.

No, I'm not retired from the military. I got out after 6 years and served 2 more in the reserve. 35 years later, I'm still aware of a sense of difference between the civilian world of sound bites and consumer loyalty and military world where you have got to trust somebody before you follow them.

I first voted in 1968 after I had enlisted and was waiting to go to basic training at Lackland AFB in San Antonio. I was so mad at LBJ that I voted for Nixon. I guess that made me a Republican.

In 1972 I thought McGovern was a peacenik and I was a war-nik so I gave Tricky Dick another vote.

In 1976 I was genuinely offended at Ford for pardoning Tricky Dick so I voted for Carter. Guess that was my first vote a Democrat.

In 1980 when Reagan asked "Are you better off now...." he got my vote. Back to being a Republican.

In 1984 he looked tougher than Mondale so I voted for Reagan again. I look back at that and suspect that within my mind were more conservative attitudes than liberal or progressive. Given my Mormon background, in retrospect, I'm not surprised.

But by 1988 though, I didn't trust Bush the First and didn't have any idea what the hell voodoo economics were, so I went into my vote-for-the-outsider mode and voted for Dukakis. Democratic fool am I?

1992 and I'm mad at Bush Sr. who seemed to think looking like Patton would fix the economy. So I  voted for Bill Clinton with the following little sentence in sotto voce: "Ok you SOB, you'd better not blow it."  Still  thinking in a Democrat way.

By 1996 I began to suspect I was more of a liberal than a conservative and just couldn't bring myself to vote for Bob Dole.

So there I am, trying to vote the man instead of the party, flip-flopping and waffling with the best of them.

By 2000 I realized that my veteran's instincts were alive and well. I saw only form without substance in George W. Bush. He's my age and I could never vote for anyone who at best was no smarter than me. Besides, an old NBA fan like me thought Bill Bradley was the smartest guy for president and I was disappointed that he didn't get nominated. Nevertheless, I voted for Gore, the military veteran.

By the time George W. invaded and occupied Iraq and lied to me and lied to you in order to get away with it, I was having problems with the political behavior in this country. My problem then finally seemed more important than the Red Sox beating the Yankees or the Oilers smacking the Cowboys.

When my wife Lietta took off for Texas to help Cindy Sheehan beat up on George Bush, I also decided to get involved ... as a citizen ... rather than as a party partisan.  This despite the fact that my dissent and opposition to a sitting president almost demanded that I support the opposition party's candidates and issues - to the degree I could stomach them - and could stomach their lack of stomach for a fight.

I soon learned that lock-step support of a sitting president and public  patriotic grandstanding had very little to do with civic responsibility; with holding the government responsible.

I was in good company .. folks like Tommy Jefferson, Teddy Roosevelt, and Dwight the Eisenhower.

Dissent is the highest form of patriotism. -President Thomas Jefferson
“The President is merely the most important among a large number of public servants. He should be supported or opposed exactly to the degree which is warranted by his good conduct or bad conduct, his efficiency or inefficiency in rendering loyal, able, and disinterested service to the nation as a whole. Therefore it is absolutely necessary that there should be full liberty to tell the truth about his acts, and this means that it is exactly as necessary to blame him when he does wrong as to praise him when he does right.
Any other attitude in an American citizen is both base and servile. To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. Nothing but the truth should be spoken about him or any one else. But it is even more important to tell the truth, pleasant or unpleasant, about him than about any one else.” - President Theodore Roosevelt
Patriotism means to stand by the country. It does not mean to stand by the President. - President  Theodore Roosevelt
To announce that there must be no criticism of the President, or that we are to stand by the President, right or wrong, is not only unpatriotic and servile, but is morally treasonable to the American public. -President Theodore Roosevelt
Here in America we are descended in blood and in spirit from revolutionist and rebel men and women who dare to dissent from accepted doctrine. As their heirs, may we never confuse honest dissent with disloyal subversion. -President Dwight Eisenhower

Good enough for me.

So I began public dissent and never regretted it. I didn't stop no wars;  didn't get anyone indicted or impeached.  I didn't impact the outcome of any elections despite all that Lietta and I could do.

But ... I felt good about myself for trying, for taking a stand and for standing for something of merit.

After a lot of manipulative antics and with the help of religious and social conservatives, Bush's 2004 re-election was a shock for me. I came to recognize things about American voters as a group and their diminished or absent attention spans. I've never forgotten how that worked. Predominantly Republican congresspersons, television commentators and talk-show jocks all acting and speaking almost in lock step synchronicity; all saying the same things and sticking almost sickeningly to the same talking points and slogans left me with a vulgar feeling and foul taste in my mouth.

Democratic voices were mostly mealy-mouthed. They seemed almost afraid to throw down any gauntlet against what I began calling the Kindergarten Konservative Klamor.

By 2008 there was no visible Republican worthy of my vote and perhaps with one or two exceptions the Democrat would get my vote. I attended the only country party convention I would attend, thinking to support Hillary but being persuaded to support Obama. For me the eventuality was either Hilary or Obama because Bush was departing with too great a bad odor about himself and by extension his party. When McCain nominated the Konservative Kindergarten Kween Sara Palin, my voting choice was going to be totally obvious.

I am not a Democrat but I can say with total honesty that there has appeared to be no Republican worthy of my vote so long as the party itself is beholden to the tea party crazies and so awash  in lock-step obstructionism.

Voting to re-elect Obama was a no brainer. And although I respect his class, charisma and competence, I have not happy with his party.

Again here I am, stubbornly insisting on competence rather than trying to support a party - neither of which has put my well-being above party priorities. That will always keep me flip-flopping and waffling -from a party perspective - with the best of them.

So here I sit at my keyboard, disgusted with the new sitting president and maintaining the disappointment in both parties. I remind myself why I got involved when one president and his administration lied their way to all those dead soldiers and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.

We have civic responsibilities that include critical thinking, striving for common sense and an ability to wade through or ignore bullshit so we can help do something about the bullshitters. If I could fire and replace them all I would ... but I can't.

However, there's no requirement to sit quietly in the tavern while the blowhards waste everybody's time and money with political silliness. We must stand up to grandstanders, bullies and drugstore cowboys - no matter the color of the ice cream on their boots.

That's why I'm taking my mind off the shelf and going back to the scuffle. If it takes offering myself as a candidate to help feel good about myself and my country, then that's what I'll do.

Look seriously at the independents. Help them get where they want to go with a beholding relationship to Big Money.