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Progressive v. Loopy
December 15, 2021
by William P. Meyers

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Progressive v. Loopy

One human truism, often demonstrated: when there are lessons to be learned, some humans will not learn them. Progressive Democrats, and other progressives not particularly affiliated with the Democratic Party, recently had their favored candidates beat in three important races in Seattle. As usual, there were multiple issues involved, including the fact that the winners were in fact very progressive themselves. These progressives managed to win their races even though the loopy progressives tried to label them as being pro-business, conservative, or even Republican candidates.

Loopiness, of course, is not confined to progressives or leftists (I'll use the term leftist here for those to the left of the Democratic Party). There is clearly a loopy Republican right at present, as defined by QAnon and the general belief that President Trump won the 2020 election. And the loopy right and loopy left sometimes circle into each other, as in the anti-vaccination and anti-fluorinated water movements. Here I will focus on a specific example, how the Berniecrats socialist or wing of the local Democratic Party, by adopting a loopy stance on one issue, and endorsing a loopy candidate, managed to lose these local elections and damage their reputations.

Seattle tends to vote 80% to 85% Democrat. Of the remaining 20% or so of the electorate, I believe there are more people who are left of Democrat than Republican. There are three major socialist parties in Seattle: Kshama Sawant's Trotskyist (communist) Socialist Alternative Party; Nikkita Oliver's Seattle Peoples Party; and the Democratic Socialists of America. Of course there are many people and groups on the left who are not affiliated with any party, including Seattle's anarchists.

The particular form of loopiness that made the difference in the 2021 Seattle local elections has a name: Abolitionism. That term is borrowed from the 19th century anti-slavery movement, but it means something entirely new. At least as espoused by Nicole Thomas Kennedy in her race for City Attorney, it means no longer prosecuting misdemeanors. The theory is that misdemeanors are only nuisance crimes (actually, they can be pretty severe) and that prosecuting those who commit them (don't call them criminals!) causes society more harm than good. No jail for punching someone in the street (as long as the injury is not severe), grabbing someone's purse, shitting on a sidewalk, shooting up drugs in public, breaking a window, etc. Mrs. Kennedy claims the trauma to the person who committed the formerly illegal action, from being arrested and put in jail if found guilty, needs to be avoided. People only commit misdemeanors out of poverty or mental illness, so what they need is to be given more money or counseling. Kennedy used the term diversion, indicating that misdemeanors could lead to diversion programs, which require you to check in with a social worker from time to time. If you feel like it.

Loopiness is often a result of not thinking things through. In terms of the actual policy, the idea is to abolish jails and most criminal courts. Only felonies would be prosecuted. But if misdemeanors are abolished, you have no basis to send someone to a diversion program. You can't even arrest someone, because they would not have broken the law when they punched you in the face or burgled your home. In terms of social policy, it is middle class liberal guilt gone wild. People commit crimes because they had traumatic childhoods, preferably childhoods of color and/or poverty. Kennedy claims because those who end up being prosecuted for crimes are disproportionally BIPOC (Black, indigenous, people of color), poor, or disabled (mentally, I presume), that laws should not be enforced. Rather than calling for fair enforcement, she called for chaos.

Nicole Thomas-Kennedy

Kennedy lost to Ann Davison, a progressive, former supporter of Hillary Clinton, labeled a Trumpster by Berniecrats. Ann had joined a campaign to salvage the political center in Washington State in 2020 by trying to run with some moderate Republicans, all of whom lost their primaries. Ann then voted for Joe Biden for President. She stated the City Council, having legislated what is a misdemeanor, should expect a City Attorney to enforce the law.

Strangely two other candidates tied their campaigns to Kennedy's, which likely contributed to their losses. The mayor's race was the center of attention. There long-time progressive activist Bruce Herring ran a campaign to address the cities many issues, including crime. As a black man he was able to point out that most people of color wanted less crime in Seattle, not more. He ran against Lorena Gonzales, who looks like white person but thinks that a Spanish surname makes her a POC. Lorena was head of the City Council, and already known for endorsing defunding the police when it was popular, then backing off to a mere starve the police position. On most issues there was little difference between Bruce and Lorena. Flipping the race scenario, in one of two at-large City Council races, Sara Nelson, a white progressive, defeated Nikkita Oliver, a blackish left-of-democrat progressive. The local democratic party clubs were so in love with Nikkita, despite her not being a democrat, that many endorsed her, while others, not allowed to endorse her under their rules, refuse to endorse Nelson. Again, the main issue was how to deal with Seattle's deteriorating homeless population and crime. By taking loopy positions alongside Kennedy, Nikkita lost.

The Democratic Socialists of America, Seattle Chapter, endorsed Nicole Thomas-Kennedy for Seattle City Attorney. This is not a surprise, as the chapter has been infiltrated by Kshama's Trotskyists. Given that Trotsky helped mass imprison and execute democratic socialists during the Russian revolution, you would think that the local folk would have learned a thing or two from history. But no. While there are also people active in both the DSA and in local Democratic clubs, they are not the sorts to provide the brakes to loopiness. They are transmitters of loopiness from the far left into the Democratic Party.

The incumbent City Attorney, a male Democrat who had held the office since the stone age, had been expected to win the primary, which is non-partisan and which promotes the top two vote getters to the main event. Instead Davison and Kennedy squeezed him out. Despite Kennedy's loopy proposal to essentially not work if she got the job, she probably would have won but for two factors. One was that Ann Davison was able to get a bunch of not-crazy, well-known Democrats, mostly former office holders, to endorse her. She was also endorsed by prominent African American groups that are anti-crime. But the main thing was proof of loopiness. It turned out that Kennedy had, during the Black Lives Matter protests, used her twitter account to encourage people to commit arson, vandalize stores, and attack the police. Well, she is a defense attorney, maybe she was just trying to drum up business.

Why did so many people follow this Pied Piper into the Mountain of Loopiness, and electoral defeat? First, they were preconditioned. They have come to believe all social ills are a result of capitalism, racism, and income inequality. More complex explanations are shunned. They see the law, the courts, and the police as expressions of capitalism and racism. So why not just Abolish this whole system, leaving government and courts in place only to regulate businesses? It was an easy leap for many.

But you also have to take into account herd mentalities. Women who have spent their lives promoting female candidates were the primary organizers of all three losing campaigns, and of the Abolitionist movement in Seattle. In my own club, the 46th LD Democrats, I had gotten to know one of these leaders before the election. She is Treasurer of the King County Democrats and a leader of the Persist Pact. I never saw her as loopy. She is one of the more competent political activists around. Until this campaign I don't remember having a disagreement with her. We both worked on Kamala Harris's campaign. I believe that when she pushed for an endorsement of Kennedy, other members in our district took that as a sign that Kennedy had been properly vetted and was a great candidate. Once I decided Kennedy was a liability and would help destroy Seattle, I had a long phone conversation with Melissa, discussing the crime issue. She simply had a different view of criminals than I did. My lived experience did not matter to her. To her criminals were victims. We agreed to disagree. And I just learned Melissa is now running for the Washington state legislature seat opening up.

How loopy the voters of Seattle have become is illustrated by the final results. Ann Davison won, 132,638 to 122,947 (51.5% to 47.7%.). I do not know how many votes the Kennedy campaign got simply by trying to label Ann a Republican, and how many voters actually supported her abolitionist program. A poll on that issue might be scary.

Progressives will regroup. Hopefully with a better plan for addressing crime. If some particular act should not be a crime, the City Council or State Legislature or Congress can decriminalize it. If helping people in a particular way diverts people from crimes or criminal careers, we can do that. What we don't need is courts and city attorneys who refuse to do their jobs. We don't need to lose elections that we could have won because we promoted a loopy idea the public knows is loopy.

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