In reading Jane Mayer’s Dark Money, I’m given to suspecting the influence of nefarious conservative forces everywhere. I should think that Olympia is no exception, given the apparently orchestrated actions of state Republicans to both decapitate heads of critical state agencies and, more important, to wrest control of the governor’s mansion from Democrats, who have long occupied the residence.
The fingerprints of dark money may be found all over the recent dismissals of the state’s transportation minister and the resignations of those who led the Department of Health and Human Services and the department of corrections. Tom James, writing for Crosscut, offered some evidence:
In the following weeks, the tone of both sides at weekly press conferences also began to change: Democrats returned again and again to the deal they thought they’d had, and Republicans began to attack. In a press conference last Tuesday, House Republican leader tore into the state’s “management culture.”
“I don’t think management 101 is being done in one of these agencies,” said Republican Sen. Mark Miloscia of Federal Way, calling state systems “crummy.” Continuing, he added: “No accountability — that’s what has to be fixed.”
Mayer’s book chronicles the incursion into politics of extremely wealthy and conservative families, notably the Kochs, Scaifes, Olins, and Bradleys. They began decades ago, just after then-future Supreme Court justice Lewis Powell penned his now-famous call to arms, a manifesto of sorts, urging rich white men to enter the political arena in a big way. One by one conservative white males accepted the challenge, pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into political campaigns, universities, ideologically conservative “think tanks,” and, of course, governments at nearly every level. As Mayer concludes, they succeeded in spectacular fashion. They control a majority of state governments, the crowning achievement of a long, concerted, widespread, and well-funded initiative that began as a crusade to rid the nation of “collectivists,” “liberals,” and “public do-gooders.”
So I would not be surprised to learn that what’s going on now in Olympia, following the Republican coup in the state Senate a couple of years ago, represents the next stage of a patient journey by extreme conservatives to seize the governor’s mansion and eventually the House—aided and abetted by the aforementioned nefarious conservative forces.
It should be clear that the theme of the Republican’s gubernatorial campaign is “management.” That will be twinned with “accountability.” And they will have created their own evidence of both in the multiple decapitations.
Expect, then, to witness a crescendo of political rhetoric over the next several months leading to elections. The Democrats have been placed on the defensive; the Republicans are out for blood.
UPDATE (Feb. 9, 2016):
The Everett Herald‘s editors weighed in on this matter in today’s opinion. They note the irony attached to the Republicans’ demand for “accountability.” The editors:
Sen. Michael Baumgartner, R-Spokane, made clear his intentions in a tweet after Peterson’s firing: “Note to other Inslee Appointees: Shape up, Do your job. Serve the people w/accountability. Or more heads are going to roll.”
Recall that the state Senate’s current plans would give itself two more years to fix funding of basic education for K-12 schools and end the reliance on local school levies. And remember the $100,000-a-day fine the state Supreme Court levied against the Legislature last year because it has failed to come up with an adequate plan.
That’s good advice, senator.