As a California Republican, I often believed that aside from the long stretch of Pacific Coastline and entrenched Democratic dominance, Washington State and California had very little in common, from the sunny skies and the gilded beaches of the Golden State compared to the gray skies and the pebbled coastlines of the Evergreen State. Of course, the rustic sentiment of rural eastern communities versus the more cosmopolitan and liberal urban areas in Washington state does reflect the political divide in California, too. The Evergreen State's love of the green (as in environment) never appealed to me, either. Don't get me wrong: I love clean air and clean water, but the government should not clean out my wallet in order to keep the environment clean.
Thus, when I think of Washington State, I do not conjure up in my mind a coven of conservatives. US Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are for the most part toe-the-line liberals. Murray is one of the chief spenders of Washington earmarks, a little known fact outside of the Beltway or the Northwest. The ILWU featured their champion Cantwell in the 2008 Documentary "Eye of the Storm", in which former President Bush invoked the Taft-Hartley provision to force both dockworkers and corporate shipping magnates back to work.
The Washington Congressional delegation is also stacked favoring Democrats, six to three. I was also very saddened to learn that Dale Foreman, an apple grower and the former leader of the state Republican Party, endorsed Democrat Maria Cantwell for reelection as opposed to the embattled Republican challenger. Then again, his decision to promote an opposition candidate sent a signal to the national GOP conference that they have to get busy getting things done. Bipartisanship for growth and sustainability is much needed yet still wanting in Washington.
Well, in Washington D.C., at least. Washington state is taking steps to "get things done". As a matter of political and cultural temperament, I often read articles from The National Review instead of The Seattle Times. Yet conservative columnist Michael Barone’s latest piece “Leading on Entitlement Reform” informed me about a welcoming development for reform minded Republicans in Washington. A recent Seattle Times editorial shed further light on a promising development in Washington State's policy, one which should encourage Republicans still sore about their losses in the 2012 Election. In the state senate, two Democrats crossed the aisle to form a power-sharing bipartisan group: the “Majority Coalition Caucus", with the growing yet not yet equal Republican delegation. Two conservative Democrats, one of whom is Rodney Tom (D-Bellevue), a former Republican, have divvied up the twelve committee chairmanships among six Republicans and six Democrats. Three of the committees will have equal representation from both parties.
Their shared concerns about education and ObamaCare mirror the pressing issues of our country: the need for greater state sovereignty against an expanding and overcrowding federal government. Their three goals should be the standard for every government in the country:
1. Promoting job growth
2. Ensuring a “world class education system”
3. Building a “sustainable budget.” (Without fiscal cliffs, I am sure)
The details of this power-sharing agreement still manifest a slight uneasiness, yet a coupling not nearly as fraught as the dual-leadership in Northern Ireland. Yet even then outgoing Prime Minister Tony Blair cobbled together a peaceful and lasting compromise, so Washington State and the Beltway can do the same.
I applaud these state leaders for putting their parties aside to serve the best interests of the people and their state. Their example of power-sharing for efficient and responsible governance serves as an example to my state, where supermajority Democrats want to raise taxes instead of cut spending. Their example serves as a well-founded rebuke to a deeply and devilishly divided Washington D.C., where caucus leaders want to bicker and provoke instead of dicker and promote the general welfare of our nation.
A slight conservative-libertarian impulse is beating in this country, too, one which is starting in the Northwest. Washingtonians have rejected “soak the rich” tax hikes, and they just have decriminalized marijuana, a telling example of one state fusing together the reform agendas of the Republican and Democratic parties, advancing a libertarian agenda in a liberal constituency with the help of conservatives.
The Evergreen State may push the Republican Party to grow into a greener, leaner, more tolerant national party, one which will adopt libertarian values, permit tax increases for incremental purposes, and promote government as a matter of domain, not dominance. Congratulations to the Majority Coalition Caucus in Olympia, which has given hope to this California conservative, who is hoping for a brighter, more positive future for the nationwide GOP and real leadership in Sacramento.