So I'm on the evening drive home, and I'm stuck behind a vehicle, color of baby puke, nicely washed, festooned with bumper stickers. The vehicle is a Kia or a Daewoo. The bumper stickers are right-wing jingo about gun ownership and flag-loving. I'll leave aside the amusing irony that, back in the 70s, this same mindset thought of owning a foreign car as being the equivalent of knocking boots with Khrushchev, but rather one of these gummy-stickered protests caught my eye.
"Don't Blame Me, I Voted for Rossi".
For those who have tuned in late - Dino Rossi was the loser in our gubernatorial elections, in a hotly-contested, razor-thin election that had to be settled in court. Christine Gregoire was the winner, and there were a lot of hard feelings from the losers on the matter.
At first I giggled, then I got irritated.
I giggled because, things have been pretty durn good for the past two years in Washington State. We've roared out of the dot-com bust, employment is up, housing is booming, our statehouse has more wonks than scoundrels, doing wonky things as opposed to scoundrelly things, there have been budget surplusses and honest-to-gosh plans for the future (The latest - what we're going to do about bird flu, making the assumption that we'll get no help from the National level). In comparison, I'm looking at the train wreck that is consuming the other Washington back east, where graft and corruption are rife, response and responsibility are missing, and the answer to every problem seems to be to give rich people more money.
But then I got irritated. The whole "Don't Blame Me" mentality is a cop-out, a disconnect, and a false understanding of one's civic responsibility. Government, particularly local government, is not something you're responsible for just on election day. It is a continual, ongoing process, a question of how the individual fits in with the greater whole. The false message of the "Don't Blame Me" crowd (Right or Left) is that once you lose on an issue, you are somehow absolved from everything that follows. Even if you are ignored or marginalized (like the hordes the Anti-War protesters that our mainstream media seems to continually miss seeing), you civic duty is to make your voice heard. The fact that you don't control the bus doesn't make it any easier for you when it drives off the cliff. On a national level, the next administration, GOP or Democrat, is going to have to spend the bulk of its time cleaning up the mess left by the current clowns in charge. And it doesn't matter who voted for what at the time.
So I won't blame Baby-Puke-Daewoo for voting for not voting for Gregoire. But I will blame her for promoting the idea that her civic responsibility ends with Election Day and a snarky bumper sticker.
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