Posted by: sweeneyblog | November 7, 2014

Friday Odds and Ends: The Night After, Rebates and the Oncoming Storm

Hello Loyal Readers,

Yes, I’m alive and haven’t thrown myself down a well. I’ve had electoral heartbreaks before, the hardest being 2004, I had just turned 18 and was voting for the first time . . . and that night the nation reelected George W. Bush. After Iraq.

Shots from election night, courtesy of Matt McDonald with the Bellingham Herald

Shots from election night, courtesy of Matt McDonald with the Bellingham Herald

The point is, there are good years and bad years – times to celebrate and times to mourn. Before I go full Pete Seeger, here are some early post-election thoughts.

The demographics show that very few young people, communities of color and single women voted this year. I’ll be doing the breakdown for the 42nd specifically in the coming week but generally speaking, those who voted this year were older and whiter than most registered voters. Setting aside cases in Texas and North Carolina where Republicans have been very successful at passing Voter ID laws to suppress the vote, it seems that the Democrats are unable to motivate their base to the polls on off-year elections. They deliver lopsided victories every presidential year but cannot recreate the magic.

Is this a curable problem or a function of demographics? I don’t have an easy answer. Locally, the Whatcom Democrats conducted an massive ground operation, doing the hard, door-to-door politics required to motivate voters . . . and it just didn’t work. Stay tuned for more details as I dig into the data.

In the good news column, Colorado has made so much tax revenue from legalizing and selling marijuana that they are offering a tax rebate to all their citizens. With the successful initiatives in Oregon, Alaska and Washington, DC, I imagine it won’t be long before red states start considering similar proposals.

Finally, we turn our eyes to the local elections. As I mentioned in my recent column, (or as Kathy Kershner referred to it, “whining”), we have a chance to drastically change our local government next year.

Kelli Linville at Occupy Bellingham

Kelli Linville at Occupy Bellingham

The County Council’s last three conservatives are up for reelection next year (Sam Crawford, Barbara Brenner and . . . Pete Kremen) along with County Executive Jack Louws, Sheriff Bill Elfo, Treasurer Steve Oliver and Auditor Debbie Adelstein. The county assessor is up for reelection but no one ever runs for that seat.

On the city level, Mayor Kelli Linville is up for reelection, along with Roxanne Murphy, Jack Weiss, Terry Bornemann and whoever is appointed to Cathy Lehman’s seat. Rumor has it that Jack may retire and Terry stay on another term but it is early and these things change.

In Ferndale, Mayor Gary Jensen is up for another term, along with a handful of councilmembers. In Lynden, over half their City Council is up for reelection, same with Blaine. The school districts are electing new board members and whatever the Charter Review Commission proposes will be on the ballot.

In other words, the people who make the decisions that most directly affect our day-to-day life are on the ballot next year – so take whatever lessons from this election and stuff it in a box till 2016 because we are facing an oncoming storm of local issues – where partisanship has little place.

That’s all for now, I’m going to be curling up with precinct maps and spreadsheets over the weekend and pull some sort of interesting analysis for you next week.



  1. How about curling up with some pizza and beer?

  2. My fellow Political Junkie,
    How about a strategic loss of lead as a way of explaining the dump? No, I didn’t think so. Well then, how about “it was just our turn”?
    There is no doubt our “Demo-gedden” will take years to rebound from (let’s hope it’s not more than two), but it seems we are destined to replay history where we win just about all, then we lose even more than all and have to start rebuilding. The public hasn’t changed: they were dissatisfied with the status quo and that would be us. However, the politics has changed. The scary stats for last Tuesday documented the large number of Democrats who won by getting more than eight percentage points more than their opponents — and Republicans getting 10 points more than their opponents. Locally and nationally.What we are seeing is results reflecting people tuning into Fox versus CNN as opposed to loyalty to D’s or R’s. It’s a sad state of affairs when a candidate’s talent, experience, accessability, and listening are not as important as which TV station we watch. Here in the well’s bottom,..I can’;t watch TV, thank goodness

  3. “it seems that the Democrats are unable to motivate their base to the polls on off year elections.”

    Yep, like letting Bank CEOS off the hook for criminal activity and then getting a 70 percent raise. Another excellent Democracy Now program today. If more people watched that show (rather than FOX or CNN), both parties would have a hard time mustering a majority.

    • As Emma Goldman once said “If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.” While we snap and snarl at one another over this election, it may be useful to consider that we left democracy (if we ever had it) behind for oligarchy a long time ago. The monied interests who are now completely in charge are no better or less off now than they were the day before the election. They ride above these things while we play out some theater of “tragi-comédie” (tragic for us – comedy for them) like gladiators in a coliseum. Tim has spied the truth of this by sending us to Democracy Now where a window opens to the reality about what has become of this country. Until each of us discovers this reality and begins to act accordingly, all this squabbling is for naught.

  4. And this from Norman Pollack on Electoral Nihilism, “The election results? Why should one even give a damn? If the Democratic showing had been stronger, the reinforcement of false consciousness would surely follow—even down to dogcatcher. And now the Republican control of both Houses of Congress—how shattering is that, when Democrats temporized on war, international law and obligation, comprehensive health care, arresting the forces of climate change, regulating the entire machinery of capitalism? For some time, on the essentials of democratic government, there has been but ONE PARTY, and that, working against a people’s society in every way. And oh boy, 2014 is hailed as the dress rehearsal for 2016 and the presidential election. Hillary makes Margaret Thatcher look like Rosa Luxemburg—the viperous sting to working people and global peace, in sum, the ideal candidate of the Democrats, to be matched by (not an easy thing to differentiate their candidate from her, given Hillary’s having already taken up the outer bounds of reactionary foreign and domestic policy) a Republican who reduces the other party’s platform and campaign themes to still more platitudinous levels. Whomever wins, critical political consciousness loses, and strike one more nail in the coffin of democracy.”

  5. “Hillary makes Margaret Thatcher look like Rosa Luxemburg.” Good one!

    However, neither one of these rather drab personalities could match either the real Red Rosa or her portrayal by Barbara Sukowa in Margrethe von Trotta’s superb 1986 film. If you want to watch a brilliant movie that is FREE on YouTube, check this out:

    • Walter – thanks. I will definitely check out this film.

  6. An update months later, I’m pretty sure that Gary Jensen isn’t running for reelection.

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