The 2012 election is finally over. The votes have been tallied. The results are in. But what do they mean?
Locally, the typical Democratic sweep occurred. Olympia likes its Democrats.
But, one surprise was the rejection of Proposition 1, the measure for forming a Public Utility District (PUD) failed by a wide margin of almost 20,000 votes. You would think people would have been supportive of this measure, especially considering the myriad of savings they would have seen.
Puget Sound Energy (PSE) currently ranks second among all Washington State electric utilities in terms of average price per kilowatt hour. Compare that to Seattle’s public power provider, which distributes approximately half the amount of power that PSE does and is the second largest distributor of power in the state, yet charges less than two-thirds what PSE does and sees less than one fourth of the revenue PSE does.
This combined with their abysmal response to last year’s blizzard would seem to make a PUD a no-brainer. Luckily for PSE’s owner’s, the Australian based Macquarie Group, their investment into defeating Proposition 1 helped scare voters away from cheap power options.
Statewide, there are some big changes on the horizon for Washington.
Gay marriage has finally been legalized, providing basic civil rights for hundreds of thousands of Washingtonians. This is one more step forward for the recognition of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) individuals as equals all across America.
I can’t imagine how this must feel for members of the LGBTQ community. Even as a heterosexual, cissexual white man, I’m filled with joy at the news that many of my friends and relatives are being shown the same acceptance that straight couples are. I can’t begin to imagine how it must feel for underprivileged members of the community. I know we have a long way to go before true equality is reached, especially for transgendered individuals who continue to face oppression and discrimination. But, this is a big step in the right direction. It is a sign of change.
Washington has also legalized and regulated cannabis use. The implications of this are a bit more unclear. We can expect a potential federal crackdown statewide, as well as a great deal of working out the details of how we treat cannabis, both from a governmental and a societal perspective.
My advice to any stoners out there: don’t rejoice just yet. Employers are still well within their rights to screen for cannabis and deny jobs based on a positive result. We don’t know what limits will be put on public cannabis consumption, and until it becomes more acceptable all over the country, try to keep it on the down-low, okay? Still, this is a historic moment. Cannabis prohibition is finally over.
Washington has also instituted a charter schools system. This is an issue I’m not especially qualified to speak on. There is a lot of conflicting information regarding charter schools, and a good deal that could go wrong with them. On the other hand, Washington’s public schools aren’t exactly top-notch either. They’re filled to the brim with cronyism, lack of effective oversight, and incompetent teachers.
Ultimately, this gives Washingtonians a choice, and provides some competition for our failing public school system. Hopefully a bit of competition will make administrators push teachers harder, instead of making them fudge test and grade results to appear better.
On the state executive side, Inslee’s election means a continuation of the status quo. The party in power has stayed in power, with the exception of Kim Wyman’s narrow-thin victory over Kathleen Drew.
Wyman has been an exceptional Thurston County auditor, and will most likely continue to perform exceptionally at the statewide level. When a Republican wins an executive position in Washington, you know that they must be pretty darn good at their job.
One final note about statewide elections. The fact that cannabis legalization passed by a far wider margin than gay marriage is very troubling. The idea that more people can agree on legalizing cannabis than can agree on providing basic equal rights to an oppressed minority is, for lack of a better term, really fucked up. Get it together Washington.
On the national stage, expect much of the same. The house of representatives and congress will continue to be deadlocked to the point of absurdity. Look for congressional republicans to block any attempt by democrats to pass a bill, and for democrats to occasionally roll over and let a republican bill steamroll over them. When the two houses of congress are controlled by different parties, only two kinds of bills are going to pass with any regularity: bills that make people look good (like military spending increases and superfluous gestures) and bills that help corporate interests (who pour money into elections on both sides, guaranteeing that congress is on their side).
As for Obama, it will be interesting to see what he will do. A second term lets a president act without having to constantly pander in hopes of re-election. We also have a chance at having a liberal-leaning supreme court for the first time in over 40 years.