The End of Partisanship

Could Democratic Hegemony Give Local Pundits the Partisan-Free Politics They've Always Craved?

The End of Partisanship
  • comments (24)
  • Print

The next time our local editorialists and pundits opine about the corrupting influence of partisan politics, they might want to be careful what they wish for. If California is any example, voters may discover that the most effective way to eliminate political partisanship is to eliminate one of the two major parties.

After years of legislative gridlock that left their state helpless to address its chronic budget crises, California voters had finally had enough. In 2010, Californians bucked the Tea Party tide (and $140 million of Republican Meg Whitman's own money) by returning Democrat Jerry Brown to the governor's mansion after a 28-year absence. Then in 2012, voters gave Brown a two-thirds Democratic supermajority in both state houses, and with it, the power to raise taxes, pass bills, and send constitutional amendments to the ballot without fear of Republican interference.

So far, this Democratic hegemony has worked out well for California, with a mix of budget cuts and tax increases finally getting the state budget under control. Democratic leaders are even looking forward to surpluses in the near future. "I really believe this is the end of one very difficult era in California," state senate leader Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) said at the state capitol last week as the Democratic-dominated legislature started its new session.

And with the California state GOP marginalized by its far-right-wing base, traditional Republican allies are beginning to abandon their partisan ways. "For the business community, there is a recognition that the best path forward for the state from a governance perspective is with moderate Democrats," a Republican consultant recently told the Los Angeles Times. At a postelection forum, wealthy Republican donor Charles Munger Jr. admitted the same: "Our role as Republicans for a while will be to choose the best Democrat."

That's a role Republicans might want to get used to up and down the West Coast, where Democrats now control the governor's mansions, legislatures, and all six US Senate seats in California, Oregon, and Washington.

"Oregon is a one-party state," complained one-term Oregon representative Shawn Lindsay (R-Hillsboro) in a guest column in the Oregonian following his failed reelection bid. When Washington secretary of state Kim Wyman is sworn in next month, she will be the only statewide elected Republican serving on the entire West Coast.

Of course, partisanship has its purpose. Political parties presumably stand for something, and by standing together, party members better promote a mutual agenda. The real problem comes when politicians put their party's interests ahead of the public interest, such as when US Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) infamously declared in 2010: "The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president."

One-party rule sets these interparty rivalries aside, focusing the legislative debate on policy, not electoral politics.

But can such one-party rule really work? Well, here in Seattle, it already does.

The Seattle City Council is officially nonpartisan—but long composed entirely of Democrats, it actually operates as a unipartisan body. Compare that to the mix of urban Democrats and suburban Republicans on the allegedly nonpartisan King County Council, which still caucuses along party lines. Neither council is free from ideological and personal infighting, but county council members still jockey for party advantage, whereas city council disputes are purely intramural affairs.

"Even Seattle needs a viable Republican Party," resident curmudgeon Joel Connelly admonishes in a recent commentary, but as the city council routinely demonstrates, it really doesn't. For all its timidity and occasional befuddlement, Seattle city government remains remarkably well run, producing balanced budgets with little of the painful cutbacks and legislative drama that plague its more partisan county and state counterparts.

A few years back, egged on by the editorial boards, local voters attempted to impose nonpartisanship on the county council by fiat. It didn't take. But if partisan bickering is truly the problem that pundits say it is, county and state voters are always free to follow the California example: "It will be easier," longtime California Republican consultant Mike Madrid told the Los Angeles Times, "to moderate the Democratic Party than to fix the California Republican Party."

The same could well be said of Washington State. recommended


Comments (24) RSS

Oldest First Unregistered On Registered On Add a comment
You should be careful what you wish for. I don't know of any Democrats that are interested in doing the right thing for the American people any more than Republicans. Consider this:…. The only individuals with integrity that I know of are Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders. Unfortunately they are demonized at every turn. All the rest have sold us out, even at the state and local level, regardless of party.
Posted by VeryLiberal on December 5, 2012 at 4:45 PM · Report this
You should be careful what you wish for. I don't know of any Democrats that are interested in doing the right thing for the American people any more than Republicans. Consider this:… The only people I know of that speak with any integrity are Ralph Nader and Bernie Sanders, and they are both demonized at every opportunity. Even at the state and local level the game is vociferously rigged against citizens. We need (a lot) more people mad at the inequities, not more compliance.
Posted by VeryLiberal on December 5, 2012 at 4:58 PM · Report this
Cascadian Bacon 3
Spoken like true Communist scum, just purge your enemy. Stalin would be proud.

149,469,610 dead cant argue.…
Posted by Cascadian Bacon on December 5, 2012 at 5:33 PM · Report this
The best form of government is Sound Transit's -- it's a post-political board where there has never been any partisan bickering. It just quietly, competently delivers what the voters want. The best!
Posted by Ben Bens on December 6, 2012 at 10:35 AM · Report this
But Goldy,some of those Golden State Dems are NOT Blue-Dogs and "New" Dems (a-la like the Clintons);it's not like they're the Peace and Freedom Party which is true political party there-- every member follows the platform,whereas the Dems are too diverse to be a true political party.AND don't forget that Illinois pulled off the Dem supermajority for it's legislature also,and they have the same problem;there's differnt types of Dems.
Posted by 5th Columnist on December 6, 2012 at 11:36 AM · Report this
Get rid of the Dems too;theyr'e NOT socialists,Goldy.
Posted by 5th Columnist on December 6, 2012 at 11:37 AM · Report this
Can't we just lock these useless members of the GOP in cages, prevent them from making any legislative decisions, and occasionally throw peanuts at them?
Posted by auntie grizelda on December 6, 2012 at 12:39 PM · Report this
We really DO need to seriously oust Doug Erickson, Jason Overstreet, and Vincent Buys.
Posted by auntie grizelda on December 6, 2012 at 12:40 PM · Report this
Uh, no, Kalifornia does not have it under control, they implemented NO actual budget cuts, and clearly they intend on the federal government bailing them out in the near future.

The fact you don't understand that is why we need actual debate in government.
As you will learn when you grow up.
Posted by Marxist Scum, that's YOU! on December 6, 2012 at 1:19 PM · Report this
Mrs Jarvie 10
"Could Democratic Hegemony Give Local Pundits the Partisan-Free Politics They've Always Craved?"

Posted by Mrs Jarvie on December 6, 2012 at 5:06 PM · Report this
...and let's get rid of Tim Eyman, too, while we're at it.
Posted by auntie grizelda on December 10, 2012 at 10:51 AM · Report this
The evangelical Christian incursion into politics stained the Republican brand for a generation, introducing right vs. wrong language into what should have been an argument between effective and ineffective ways of governing people.

Government is a technical job. It's tax revenue forecasting, resource allocation, logistics planning (DOT), outcomes-based healthcare (public health), R&D (education), and basic services. It's a technical job striving for universal benefits and the foundations of a functional society. Not always "just," or "right." But at its core, functional over dysfunctional.

There's no immoral or moral way to build a road. There are ways with more or less impacts, more or less benefit, and costing more or less resources. We provide emergency services ultimately NOT because "it's right," but because it is IMPRACTICAL to leave those services to the market or leave them out altogether and expect a peaceful, universally beneficial life for the governed.

When one party stops talking about effectiveness and starts talking about what is the "morally right" way to govern, then we've gone off the rails.
Posted by nullbull on December 10, 2012 at 1:41 PM · Report this
Ballard Pimp 13
@12--Very good analysis. The Republican Party has lost all interest in governing; they have nothing to offer.

@1, 2, and 3: Your views are as useful as your computer skills and your spelling.
Posted by Ballard Pimp on December 10, 2012 at 10:32 PM · Report this
Your example is quite possibly the most populous failed state in the history of mankind.

Maybe when a single one of the columnists writing for this joke of a newspaper knows what the shit they spew from their mouths means you'll be treated in a decent manner.

Maybe when one of you acts in a civil manner.. Nevermind, that won't happen.


Maybe when this paper is worth the caloric effort I'll stuff if into your fucking mouths and light it on fire.

In other words, keep it up.
Posted by a_fit_of_apoplexy on December 11, 2012 at 12:56 AM · Report this
@12 &@13: Agreed! Well said, and BRAVO!!!
Posted by auntie grizelda on December 11, 2012 at 12:44 PM · Report this
@13 ah, yes. we should evacuate governance of the moral structure. building of the roads involves no issues of value like land use, eminent domain, degree of environmental protection, questions of benefit, spending of public monies, questions of resource distribution. These are all amoral questions. Like the Iraq War. Mere technical details.
Posted by AlaskanComment on December 11, 2012 at 12:48 PM · Report this
@12 Ah yes. We should evacuate governance of moral consideration. Road building, what with its considerations of land use, environmental impact, eminent domain, targeted benefits and costs, is mere technics, reducible to mathematical formula of cost/benefit. Like the Iraq War. Or abortion. Or the right to marriage equality. Mere technical competence is all that's need.
Posted by AlaskanComment on December 11, 2012 at 12:53 PM · Report this
Democrats in California did indeed pass Prop 30 increasing the tax rates on the State's richest to the highest in the nation.

The California Teachers’ Association (CTA) trumpeted: "California students and working families won a clear victory today as voters clearly demonstrated their willingness to invest in our public schools and colleges and also rejected a deceptive ballot measure aimed at silencing educators, other workers and their unions.”

And the result....

State bureaucrats immediately ramped up deficit spending far beyond the state's $6 billion annual tax increase, with the Departments of Health Services and Developmental Services increasing this month’s spending by over $1 billion versus last year.

The taxpayers voted with their feet....

by moving themselves and their businesses out of state, resulting in over $1 billion shortfall in corporate and income taxes last month and the beginning of a new financial crisis.

Be careful of what you wish when clamoring for onerous taxation of the wealthy.
Posted by DonaldBly on December 11, 2012 at 2:39 PM · Report this
#12, if only that were true of Seattle's "progressives." The reality is completely different. Your crowd is every last bit as moralizing and puritanical as Sarah Palin's crowd. The only difference is which pleasures you approve and disapprove of, compared to theirs.

Seattle's "progressives" are every last bit as hooked on virtue (as they see it), and just as determined to impose it on everyone else, as any member of the Mormon Council of 12 sitting at the top of their office building behind Temple Square in Salt Lake City.

What really scares the living shit out of you, and them, is that someone might want to live a life that you don't approve of, without first seeking your permission or absolution.

Try this for a change: Live and let live. Take your hand out of my wallet. Mind your own business. Run your own life, and only yours. I know it'll be hard to unlearn your religion, but you ought to give it a try. You just might find freedom to be something you prefer.
Posted by Mister G on December 11, 2012 at 7:33 PM · Report this
Christampa 20
@19 I would prefer if you stop saying every little thing that pops into your head, especially considering you are wrong about every single thing. Or if you're incapable of that, I would prefer that you at the very least kill yourself
Posted by Christampa on December 11, 2012 at 8:50 PM · Report this
#20, howdy "progressive" stalker bitch!
Posted by Mister G on December 12, 2012 at 12:58 PM · Report this
Christampa 22
A free tip: I'm much more offended by your inability to post all of your thoughts in one post, instead opting to post seven or eight separate little pieces of shit in each thread, than I am by your Tourette Syndrome. Your godawful trolling is so pathetic I just can't stand to see you flail about so uselessly.
Posted by Christampa on December 13, 2012 at 1:44 AM · Report this
Hey there, bitch! Out stalking me again?
Posted by Mister G on December 13, 2012 at 11:31 AM · Report this
Christampa 24
Oh, you're bad at taking advice, too.
Posted by Christampa on December 13, 2012 at 5:58 PM · Report this

Add a comment

Most Commented in News