The Herald of Everett, Washington
HeraldNet on Facebook HeraldNet on Twitter HeraldNet RSS feeds HeraldNet Pinterest HeraldNet Google Plus HeraldNet Youtube
HeraldNet Newsletters  Newsletters: Sign up  Green editions icon Green editions

Calendar


HeraldNet Headlines
HeraldNet Newsletter Delivered to your inbox each week.


Published: Wednesday, April 16, 2014, 1:00 a.m.
In Our View/Sen. Rodney Tom's retirement


In search of third-way politics

From its inception, the Senate Majority Coalition Caucus was a coalition of convenience. Two defecting Democrats gave Republicans control of the state’s upper chamber. But neither Rodney Tom nor Tim Sheldon were willing to jettison the Democratic label. And, so, the coalition with Tom as chief, and the patina of a moderate, third-way agenda, was conceived.
It seemed an inspired experiment for a population repelled by partisan clatter. But Tom, who announced that he won’t run for re-election, was a weathervane. A Republican. Then a Democrat. Then a leader by way of a power-sharing canoodle. There always was the subtext of a coalition in name only.
Tom was paired with Republican Leader Mark Schoesler, R-Ritzville, the de facto message enforcer. It was a humbling, paradoxical job. Tom personally advocated for a range of policies, but his hands were tied, he said.
Tom worked hard. He deserves credit for shepherding issues controversial among Republicans, such as the Real Hope Act. While the Senate punted on a capital budget, it passed an operating budget by a coalition-burnishing 48-1. But not moving on a transportation-finance package was a step backwards.
Washingtonians have horse-sense: If it walks like something it isn’t, and looks like something it isn’t, it isn’t. The curious response is hunger for the authentic: Red-meat Republicans or red-meat Democrats.
Be careful what you wish for. The Senate was a check on Gov. Jay Inslee and a Democratic House, a cudgel to compromise. Today, the challenge is both parties are ideologically rigid, hampered by litmus-test politics underwritten by deep-pocketed interest-groups. Ideological diversity — along with the sensible center where most voters dwell — is the donut hole.
“The purpose of democratic politics is to solve problems and resolve disputes.” E.J. Dionne writes in “Why Americans Hate Politics.” “But since the 1960s, the key to winning elections has been to reopen the same divisive issues over and over again. The issues themselves are not re-argued. No new light is shed. Rather, old resentments and angers are stirred up in an effort to get voters to cast yet one more ballot of angry protest.”
Divided government worked well for Washington’s most accomplished governor, Republican Dan Evans. And Washington even elected a nonpartisan “fusion” governor in John Rogers, author of the Barefoot Schoolboy Act of 1895. But politics are different today. If Washingtonians want a third-way, centrist political movement, it needs to flow from the grassroots, not political expediency.

Share your comments: Log in using your HeraldNet account or your Facebook, Twitter or Disqus profile. Comments that violate the rules are subject to removal. Please see our terms of use. Please note that you must verify your email address for your comments to appear.

You are logged in using your HeraldNet ID. Click here to update your profile. | Log out.

Our new comment system is not supported in IE 7. Please upgrade your browser here.

comments powered by Disqus
digital subscription promo

Subscribe now

Unlimited digital access starting at 99 cents, or included with any print subscription.

loading...

Herald Editorial Board

Jon Bauer, Opinion Editor: jbauer@heraldnet.com

Carol MacPherson, Editorial Writer: cmacpherson@heraldnet.com

Neal Pattison, Executive Editor: npattison@heraldnet.com

Josh O'Connor, Publisher: joconnor@heraldnet.com

Have your say

Feel strongly about something? Share it with the community by writing a letter to the editor. Send letters by e-mail to letters@heraldnet.com, by fax to 425-339-3458 or mail to The Herald - Letters, P.O. Box 930, Everett, WA 98206. Include your name, address and daytime phone number. (We'll only publish your name and hometown.) We reserve the right to edit letters, but if you keep yours to 250 words or less, we wonít ask you to shorten it. If your letter is published, please wait 30 days before submitting another. Have a question about letters? Contact Carol MacPherson at cmacpherson@heraldnet.com or 425-339-3472.

HeraldNet Classifieds