As we move into State Party reorganization weekend, a few reminders on what we will be facing in our local elections in 2021, especially from the Washington State Republican Party, and a close look at how that's manifesting in one of our towns: Sequim, in Clallam County.
First, some data.
The latest poll from the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) finds that 60 percent of Americans say that harsh and violent language in politics contributes "a lot" to violent actions in society. More than six in ten Americans say that former President Trump has encouraged white supremacist and conspiracy groups, especially those like the Proud Boys and Qanon.
Only 35 percent of Republicans are willing to hold that ANY white supremacists or folks tied to conspiracy groups had ANYTHING to do with the seditious attack on the U.S. Capitol on January 6th or are in any way responsible for the attack. Back in the real world, however, 62 percent of Americans who don't identify with the GOP said white supremacists shoulder a lot of the blame for the attack, and 22 percent say they are more than a little bit to blame or 84 percent in total.
It's stunning to think that the vast majority of Republicans prefer to live in a world of denial, even at the price of refusing to hold the instigators of a domestic terrorist attack responsible. The party's base is as delusional as Mitch McConnell or Kevin McCarthy, who refuse to convict Trump for instigating the assault. The GOP also treats conspiracy-monger and newly elected Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Qanon) as a rational member in good standing. (And to add further insult, the GOP has assigned Greene to the House Education Committee - she who has mocked the killing of little children at Sandy Hook Elementary School and mocked the killing of teenagers at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School as "fake." It's appalling, and their conduct is indefensible.)
You can read the whole poll here: https://www.prri.org/research/majority-of-americans-blame-trump-white-supremacy-for-capitol-riot/
Second, what's going on in Sequim?
Well, to Sequim Mayor William Armacost, Qanon is a "truth movement" — one that he recently encouraged folks to learn more about on YouTube on a local radio program. The mayor even wears a Qanon pin to council meetings. It's best to describe Qanon as an online conspiracy cult. Qanon followers believe that Trump has been fighting a "deep state" network of child-sex traffickers embedded in the U.S. government and the media and has promoted the idea that Democrats are sacrificing babies and eating them or drinking their blood. These bizarre lies sadly echo decades-old anti-Semitic propaganda as well.
I guess it would be one thing for Armacost to express his views in public. But now Armacost and his allies on the Sequim City Council have been carrying out a QAnon coup of the town government, firing trusted Sequim city manager, Charlie Bush, in a bizarre series of closed-door meetings and more. You can read about it here: https://www.thedailybeast.com/mayor-aims-to-turn-small-town-into-qanon-usa?ref=scroll
And the Washington GOP think this is just fine.
Why is this important for our local election cycle in 2021? As an example of just one of many local elections, Sequim needs some new City Councilmembers. But also, if anyone thinks there are enough persuasion dollars in any candidate campaign to move these GOP voters into reality, well, I'd urge you to think again. We must identify the most important local races in our Counties and LD's, and begin to work with those candidates now. We must look at the data, and realize flipping republican votes in this sort of climate and belief system is a major mountain to climb. Instead, there's a better way - but it takes hard, deliberate work that also must begin now. GOTV - or getting out our voters and registering new ones.
Here are the eye-popping numbers from across Washington - over 300,000 identified and registered democrats in Washington simply did not vote in the last election. More than 1.3M Washingtonians are eligible to vote, and are not registered, and are frequently democratic-leaning and in BIPOC communities. If we truly believe in diversity, equity and inclusion, well, the opportunity is sitting right in front of us. Let's go to work!
Finally, there's no new episode of Democracy on Demand this week. Check out last week's episode with State Senators Emily Randall and Joe Nguyen.You can view the discussion here: https://www.facebook.com/washdems/videos/462533965119420
With gratitude for all you do,
Chair, Washington State Democrats
Something to read: Remember the John Birch Society? No? Then take a peak at this article by Richard Brody, on the original "far-right overthrow the government activists" and a TV documentary that exposed them…in 1964!: https://www.newyorker.com/culture/the-front-row/a-tv-documentary-shows-the-deep-roots-of-right-wing-conspiracy
Something to watch: Want to know more about Qanon? Check out this documentary from CBSN Originals: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/qanon-conspiracy-theory-believers/
Something to do: Follow the Sequim Good Governance League on Facebook, to see how you can help change the City Council: https://www.facebook.com/SequimGoodGovernanceLeague/