July 23, 2013

One Party Rule in Seattle: Sweet!

Mayor McGuin, in a very contested race for mayor, pulls an excellent publicity stunt with consequences by asking about Whole Foods' expansion plans while their wages are some of the worst in the grocery industry. It's the kind of stunt that in a rapidly expanding local economy is long, long overdue. Whether he's right or not, this the kind of debate we should be having, instead of wasting all political capital on a 30 year avalanche of bullshit about making rich people richer at any and every cost. A lot of moderates spend a lot of time worrying what happens when Republicans are shut out of the political conversation. In the City of Seattle, where unemployment is now under 5%, what happens is we can ask the right questions about labor, the environment, education, investment, ethics, justice, policing, public design, the character of modern life, etc, etc, etc, etc.

Generally the Democratic Party is becoming a kind of home for a center-left pro-business, greenish development party, there is a solid, unorganized, but cooperative left-wing laborish green opposition, and the Republicans are wringing their hands and taking what they're offered and pouting and moving to Bellevue; but even that isn't far enough anymore. The creative business energy here, driven especially by vast investments in higher public education over many years, has given us the power to say: you want access to our creative skills, infrastructure and markets? Deal with reasonable labor and environmental regulations! Is it a little boring having to work with complex policy solutions rather than a constant reactionary panic over pointless distractions and crypto-fascist ideology? Yes.

As a very general rule, one-ish party rule is working well here, and a bit unlike San Francisco, overall we've got a fairly honest, rather more ethical grounding in our institutions than in most places. It was hard won over decades. If you can name a generally more ethical civic environment, I'd like to hear of it. Even Canada doesn't always measure up.

I don't see a downside for quite a while- eventually, the house will have to be cleaned, as it should- stagnation is a risk, but house cleaning doesn't have to come from the crypto-fascists. McGuin himself - not exactly Mr. Charming Pants - has been a good nose tweaker for the political class, as marked by half a dozen opponents who are all complaining about his style, but almost no one about his substance. We've got a functioning social contract and it works. As for the GOP? Destroy them as best you can. Nothing else matters as much. Victory works great.


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