"Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored." -Aldous Huxley

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wWednesday, July 30, 2003

LOCKE BOX: Man it was hot yesterday -- so hot that I didn't dare try to post this until this morning. My latest column is on Washington State's anti-political politics:

Critics of [Governor Gary] Locke's rebuttal may have been overwrought, but they weren't wrong to note some reluctance on his part. The governor is horrible in open confrontation, and prefers to rule by flattery and misdirection. As far as Washingtonians are concerned, the State of the Union reply was Locke at his snarling most belligerent. Before the last gubernatorial election, Dan Savage complained in Seattle's alt weekly The Stranger that Locke, "behaves as if he, like the queen of England, is a constitutional monarch, barred from taking a public stand on anything controversial or -- God forbid! -- political."

Savage meant it as an insult but the governor-as-constitutional-monarch crack isn't far off the mark. The governor of Washington State is a constitutionally weak office, and it has been made even more infirm by the increase in voter initiatives in the last two decades. I often summarize the new consensus as, We hate the legislature, and the governor had better play dead.

The normal way of things in Washington is that politicians work hard to raise fees and taxes and pass irksome regulations, and then citizens sign petitions and vote for initiatives, pulling the rug out from under said pols at the ballot box. If Locke had his way, affirmative action would still be in place in public education, hand guns would be restricted, and a high car tax would not have been repealed. This year, he managed to get a gas tax hike, along with a few other fee increases, through the legislature, but self-proclaimed "initiative whore" Tim Eyman has promised to get back every last nickel for the taxpayers, and, odds are, he will. [more]

posted by Jeremy at 10:36 AM