You might think Republicans would take up baking bread or doing something useful during the pandemic, but they seem content to continue running the same idiotic political play they've been running for the last three years: say the craziest shit imaginable and then hide behind the big shield of bad faith both-sidesism.
The Washington GOP got their opportunity to run this play yesterday, when three Democrats in the legislature—Sen. Van De Wege, Rep. Chapman, and Rep. Tharinger—wrote a letter asking Gov. Jay Inslee to add Clallam County to the list of counties that could move into Phase 2 sooner than June.
Will @JayInslee demagogue against these Democratic Legislators and say they don’t care about people dying? That was his straw man argument against Republicans pushing to safely and more rapidly re-open our state yesterday. pic.twitter.com/UD1FEiyHOq
— Caleb Heimlich (@CalebHeimlich) May 6, 2020
Caleb Heimlich, chair of the Washington GOP, jumped on the letter and conflated the Democratic lawmakers' request with the batshit Republican lawsuit to lift the state's lockdown order immediately. Heimlich got an assist from Q13's Brandi Kruse, host of The Divide, who framed the letter as "clear" evidence "that some on both sides question path forward." Finally, the holy "middle ground" between permitting mass death and following the recommendations of public health officials has been discovered.
Except it hasn't. Both sides are not questioning "the path forward." The Republican "path forward" is to sue Inslee and reopen the state tomorrow, despite the fact that doing so would cause the virus to rebound and lead to more death. The Democrats want to slowly reopen the state in four phases, allowing some smaller counties to move through the phases more quickly than others while monitoring the situation for spikes in infection rates. When Inslee announced this plan, he included 10 counties that could immediately apply for waivers to move from Phase 1 to Phase 2, and added that the Department of Health and his office would, within the next two weeks, "consider additional criteria, which could include cases per capita, for allowing other counties to apply for a variance."
The three Democratic lawmakers say they don't mean to question the path forward, nor do they wish to don black hoods and join the Republican death cult.
In an email, Sen. Van De Wege said "we don't question the path forward, we just think Clallam County is closer to meeting Phase 2 guidelines than the governor’s office realizes. Our letter simply questioned one aspect of Phase 2 application and asked for Clallam County to be included in the same safe conditions."
Van De Wege said the county "did not qualify for an early entry into Phase 2 because of its population (77,331) and because it has confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the past three weeks." Since the latest cases came "not from within the county but from outsiders," he thinks the "biggest concern...is not local transmissions but transmissions from tourists coming in from outside areas.”
Van De Wege believes Clallam County's "local businesses are prepared to aggressively implement the Phase 2 guidelines" to account for that, whereas Republicans believe, according to their lawsuit, that “the emergency has been contained," and so the lockdown violates the civil rights of everyone in the state.
"We wouldn’t presume to suggest a strategy for the entire state—every community is different," Van De Wege added. "So far, the governor’s 'path forward' has kept people safe and flattened the curve. Anyone who says 'It’s ok if a few people die' if we re-open too fast or too broadly doesn’t understand the threat of the pandemic to our hospitals."
If the governor denies their request, Van De Wege said he will not stand with Republicans and advocate for the state to lift the lockdown order statewide immediately.
It's all well and good to call for the conversation to move beyond "Republicans want to kill your grandmother" and "Democrats want to kill your business," but that will be impossible to do so long as Republicans keep saying they're fine with killing your grandmother while ignoring good plans from Democrats to save businesses.
After all, Republicans have always had a choice here. They could accept science and work with Democrats to manage the economic fallout in a way that protects vulnerable people and businesses, or they could reject science and sabotage any effort to govern responsibly. Washington Republicans did the former for about a month. Now they're back to throwing bombs and taking cover behind both-sider bullshit.