Opinion

In 594, voters saw something that wasn’t there

The election results are in. While the street corners recently bustling with smiling, banner-waving die-hards in expensive suits are now quiet, social media is roaring with told-you-sos and sour grapes. But the sky hasn’t fallen; the end of the world hasn’t happened.

So what does it all mean? If I could tell you that definitively, I’d buy the winning lottery ticket this weekend. With a little common sense, however, I believe that some truths can be gleaned from those little blackened ovals.

Nationally, the Republicans won big. Does this mean that gay marriage will be outlawed and everyone will be forced to drive gas-guzzling SUV’s to the state-run church? Obviously not. It simply means that more Americans were unhappy with the current federal regime. According to Gallup’s most recent poll, the president’s highest three-day average approval rating was in January 2009, and his lowest, a dire 38 percent, was in September of this year.

As CNN stated in response to these numbers, “Americans say he’s not trustworthy.” And they seemingly didn’t trust the Senate, either. Voters obviously didn’t have a chance to oust Obama, but they did have a chance to make a statement to his supporters in the Senate.

In the great Northwest, the Evergreen State will no longer be the only “green” state. Oregon saw that Washington did not implode when retail pot stores opened earlier this summer, so they gave a thumbs up to big revenues, recognizing that this particular age-old social issue apparently isn’t that big of a deal after all.

Closer to home, it looks like Thurston County also wanted change, and residents voted in a new commissioner. The voters have spoken against ridiculously restrictive permitting practices, against stripping landowners of their rights, and against waste and corruption. Perhaps now one can obtain an approved site plan for a new home in less than six months. We can hope.

Voters have said “no thank you” to funding smaller class sizes and increasing staff members in K-12 in this state. Could this finally be a message to the school system to trim some fat and become more efficient and effective? Perhaps.

So far, it seems we have a recurring theme of voters opting for responsible and accountable leadership on all levels, and less restrictive, less invasive government control. But that trend comes to a screeching halt when we begin cogitating the passage of Initiative 594, perhaps the most famous measure this year. Why did it pass and what does it mean?

Henry David Thoreau once said, “It’s not what you look at that matters, it’s what you see.” Regarding this particular initiative, his timeless words of wisdom couldn’t be truer.

After months of hearing the whir of the well-oiled machine behind this measure, I am convinced that many Washingtonians who voted for it saw something that just wasn’t there. Media and ad headlines suggested this bill was about “background checks on all gun sales,” when that is not what the bill proposed. The word “sale” was omitted and instead, the completely nebulous word “transfer” was written. Big deal?

Now, 2.1 million gun owners in this state (2010 U.S. Census Bureau) potentially became criminals overnight by loaning a skeet shotgun to a responsible hunting buddy, as an example. This is not my opinion, it’s now the law. And because of one, poorly-chosen word, we have just handed control of this issue to our government. Wait, don’t the polls continually show us that we don’t trust the government?

Thomas Paine was one of the first Americans to say (I paraphrase), “Let’s not allow a disassociated regime tell us how to live our lives.” In his work, “Common Sense,” published February, 1776, he brilliantly writes, “Society is produced by our wants, and government by our wickedness…”

Paine and the other architects of our country made it crystal clear that they weren’t only wary of British rule, they were cautious in crafting our own laws so that our own government could never have such preposterous control over all aspects of our lives. But this Tuesday, with this initiative, we chose to ignore history and the hard lessons learned by our forefathers.

Slowly, chink by chink, we give away our armor of freedom to the disassociated entity that most of us mistrust. Common sense?

Thomas Paine, we need your help.

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