“Jay Inslee ran on the fact that the world is going to end if we don’t do something right (expletive) now, and he polled like 0.7%,” a USC professor summed up on Twitter.
Inslee drew praise by the press and fellow politicians for “making a mark” on the campaign with his single-issue focus. I don’t agree: To me his maddening failure to draw a single supporter in many opinion polls — even in nationwide polls, which would include West Coast — is going to make it harder for climate change to get traction as a political issue, not easier.
But going ahead, my question is more practical: When you’ve just said in a presidential debate that there’s only one issue that matters, and that “literally the survival of humanity on this planet and civilization as we know it” is at stake, how do you then go back to talking about K-12 education-funding formulas, traffic, taxation, “lean management” or any of that local stuff?
It’s a legitimate issue whether Inslee’s heart can still be in the job.
Increasingly voters seem skeptical of long incumbencies anyway. Look at what’s happening with King County Councilmember Larry Gossett. The man’s a civil-rights legend, but at age 74 is being upstaged by a surprise, intraparty challenger, 32-year-old newcomer-to-politics Girmay Zahilay. Should Gossett somehow win re-election in November, though, the stiff challenge will undoubtedly make him a better, more responsive council member.
The pecking-order politics of the state Democrats is a formula for stagnation, choking off fresh views on the state’s most urgent issues.
Prime example: In order to get elected governor seven years ago, Inslee opted to come out strongly against a state income tax. But a case can be made that Washington’s regressive tax system has become the state’s top problem, the one that makes all the others harder to fix, from ongoing K-12 funding issues to the ailing mental-health system to inequality in general.
Now it looks like that debate can be safely ignored until 2024 at the earliest, as everybody just stays in their lanes.
Somebody should go all maverick and at least poke at this hidebound hierarchy. Instead they all stood in a line at the news conference, and, one after another, pledged happy fealty to it.
In the back of the room, one of the many aides on hand summed it up:
“It’s going to be a long four years,” he said. “And we’re determined to be all smiles about it.”