In the days following the election, when I wasn't in the company of my teary-eyed friends, glumly shaking my head in concert, my true feelings about what happened on Tuesday were becoming undeniable. I found myself singing in my apartment, whistling while walking to work (a bit awkward when my fellow Capitol Hill denizens were shuffling down the street like zombies), and making up giddy schadenfreude ditties at the expense of those rich Second Avenue property owners and anti-urbanist obstructionists who tried to halt mass rapid transit here. They lost badly to pro-transit Seattle voters--63 to 37 percent.
I have to admit it: The monorail landslide didn't just ease the pain of Kerry's defeat, but actually displaced my disappointment about the national numbers. With colossal shit looming (like Clarence Thomas, the war in Iraq, health care, and oh, I don't know, reeducation camps) this may sound myopic, but it's not. November 2 brought good news. The pro-rapid transit vote proved that Seattle has become truly urban. As the Democratic party goes into overhaul mode, places like Seattle, with its sharply defined urban identity politics, are going to provide the spark.
Seattle's last remaining bastion of anti-urbanists, the anti-monorail contingent, (which evidently isn't very big), shot themselves in the foot this election season. After spending over a million dollars on paid signature gatherers, political consultants, and misleading commercials, they unwittingly gave a voice to Seattle's urbanist voters, who spoke with mandate clarity. Voters replaced the monorail's 2002's slim 877-vote victory--something the anti-monorail NIMBYs have hung over the monorail's head for two years--with a gargantuan 72,646-vote (and counting) margin.
With its campaign against the monorail, the butt-ugly alliance between big money (Martin Selig, Washington Mutual, Equity Office Properties) and neighborhood cranks (the breathless Seattle Weekly) threw a pitchfork-wielding temper tantrum, giving pro-urban voters a clear foil. As a result, the yea-monorail vote can only be read as a pointed response to anti-progress obstinacy. Shutting down the cranks, Seattle voters spelled it out: We're a real city. We want inner-city rapid transit.
The impact of the urban vote was driven home on Tuesday night when famously anti-monorail County Council member Dwight Pelz, who's seeking a Seattle city council seat next year, had a monorail epiphany. His new position? "Build it!" Smart thinking, Dwight. Thanks to the monorail vote, anyone who's considering running for office in Seattle needs to come to terms with the pro-urban voting bloc that announced its presence on November 2.
It's an announcement the national Democratic Party should notice. There's an old rule in political organizing: Don't waste time trying to change people's minds--find the people who already agree with you. For the Democratic party, those are the people who live in cities. (Cities with populations over 500,000 went for Kerry 60 to 39.) Democrats need to cater to this base and support our efforts so that cities, with attractive qualities like rapid transit, grow. Mark my words, the Democratic party will grow in kind.
So, if your morose post-election stupor is startled by the sound of someone whistling, don't shoot me a glare. I'm not celebrating Bush's victory. I'm celebrating Seattle's.