I haven’t been a good blogger lately, but color me back in action–because this article in the Stranger made my blood boil! I hope we can all get a little more locally focused because there are some important local races that we could actually impact.
I stay pissed off at the Republicans, but that anger is now just a dull, throbbing rage that suffuses more or less every waking moment. When I read about idiotic local Democrats, it’s more of a sharp spike through my head. And what could be more idiotic than Paleo-Liberals trying to talk the one breath of fresh air out of the race for the 43rd District State House seat? That’s right–two of Seattle’s “most powerful Democratic activists” tried to talk Stephanie Pure out of running.
Apparently, she’s supposed to wait until years in the system have worn her down into another boring Seattle-style politico with shattered ideals and a shuttered view of what’s politically possible in Olympia. Actually, that argument wouldn’t surprise me given Seattle’s famously glacial view of the political process. What does shock me is that in 2006 (in a state with a female governor and two female Senators) anyone would think that the ladies need to have secret coffee klatsches about marching in suffragette lock-step to increase the chance that one of the fairer sex might survive bruising political battle against a bunch of male candidates. What utter horseshit–and how offensive to women!
Linda Mitchell (chair of the National Women’s Political Caucus of Washington) and Karen Cooper (director of NARAL Pro-Choice Washington) may have been clear that they were approaching Stephanie as individuals, not on behalf of their organizations, but I hope any of you who give these groups money will think twice before supporting these “leaders.” More women in politics is better–especially if one of those women is Stephanie Pure.
Let’s just call a spade a spade. I’m sure she’s a great person but Dodson’s campaign is anemic and her “Send a Teacher to Olympia” yard signs are cringe-inducing. Her candidacy has a vanity project feel to it. She’s near the bottom of the pack in fundraising, she’s not energetic or inspiring in person and she isn’t pounding the pavement and ringing doorbells enough to mount a truly populist retail campaign. But of course Dodson is a known quantity of the same generation as these powerful local women, so she was able to muster a post-menopausal hit squad to try to steamroll Stephanie out of the race… all under the guise of a truly pathetic “Do what we say, dear, it’s for the best” maternalism. Politics, so long an old boys club, is no less restrictive and archaic when the old girls try to bar the door. This is the kind of wannabe-kingmaker bullshit that infects Democratic insider circles and infuriates me.
But to really understand why it makes me so angry, you have to know Stephanie like I know Stephanie. We’ve never been best friends, but I’ve known her almost all the seven years I’ve lived here and have cheered her on while (as Peter Steinbreuck’s top aide) she has helped defeat the Teen Dance Ordinance, gain better access to mass transit for the disabled and elderly and scrounged for funds to preserve crossing guards and library hours. Oh–she also helped found the Vera Project. She is an amazing, energetic progressive mover and shaker who actually gets things done. But she always comes across as a completely genuine person. She’s the kind of candidate who makes me want to be a better citizen, and if she’s elected she will make a whole generation of 43rd District voters know they have a voice and a chance to make a difference.
It’s a big field of candidates, and conventional wisdom would have me backing gay-rights activist/big-money downtown lawyer Jamie Pedersen (whom I know pretty well even if I’m not one of his 3,051 MySpace friends). But he and every other candidate in the race seems so clearly to me to be Central Casting examples of old-Democrat interest group fossils… the Blue-blood Enviro Candidate, the Teacher’s Union Leader, the Insider Playing Grizzled Outsider, the Gruff Aging Politico (Jim Street, whose apparent lack of a web site fouls up my attempts at snarky moniker hyperlinks!), etc. Their talking points are all interchangeable, save where they use the bold and underline. Stephanie is just different. (Her website is peopleforpure.com if you’d like to learn more.) The candidates are all fine citizens, to be sure. But I couldn’t bring myself to vote for any of them–maybe back in 1992, but not in 2006. That’s why I believe Stephanie will win–she is connecting with people in the 43rd who expect new approaches and real results from government.
But back to the Ladies Who Coffee. I can’t think of a better example of how a complacent Democratic power structure tries make sure that the safest House seat in the State Legislature goes to the Old Guard, instead of a young rising star with fresh ideas and energy to burn. This is not how Republicans treat promising politicos. They nurture them and train them and start them early and wring an extra couple of useful decades out of them–and that goes a long way to explaining why we’re in the mess we’re in. Anybody younger than JFK was the day he was shot isn’t considered serious. Serious, my friends? Elder statesman? This is the past of the party, not the future, or the future is fucked.
The only good news is that The Stranger article has only added to Stephanie’s buzz. She’s a fantasically talented worker bee, the kind of civil servant we depend on to make hard decisions, pull together coalitions and get things done. I’m behind Stephanie 100% and I hope more of you will support her as well. The best way to tell the wannabe Queen Bees to shake their tails in someone else’s beezwax is to give Stephanie some honey! Tell them Linda and Karen sent you!