John Laird: Wasted votes, radical ideologies and clanging bells

By John Laird, Columbian Editorial Page Editor

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photoJohn Laird is The Columbian's editorial page editor. His column of personal opinion appears each Sunday. Reach him at john.laird@columbian.com.

Notes, quotes and anecdotes while wondering why many people who are screaming for a public vote on light rail are also screaming against a public vote on a tax levy to pay for parks:

Consider the colossal stupidity of this proposal -- Washington's four least-populated counties are Garfield (Pomeroy), Wahkiakum (Cathlamet), Columbia (Dayton) and Ferry (Republic). Combined, these four counties have fewer residents (about 18,350) than Camas (about 19,350). Hard to believe, isn't it?

Because voters in these counties have little clout in gubernatorial elections and always get steam-rolled by the big cities, maybe their votes should count more. It's only fair. Even things out. Give Cathlamet voters more power than Seattle voters when electing a governor. Hey, we don't need no stinkin' one-man, one-vote badges.

As ridiculous as that proposal sounds, it's the same disjointed philosophy that leads many people to insist the antiquated Electoral College is the best way to elect a president.

Which inspires this prediction -- None of our votes for president here in Washington will matter this year. Trust me, the only voters who will matter reside in nine battleground states, identified by the New York Times as Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Wisconsin.

Go ahead, campaign for Obama or Romney all you want. Post the yard signs. Slap on the bumper stickers. Knock yourselves out. But you're wasting your time. It's the Electoral College way.

Inflammatory rhetoric -- Imagine any politician in 2012 recommending: "Require all households to purchase at least a basic package of (health) insurance, unless they are covered by Medicaid, Medicare, or other government health programs." Oh, my! That politician would be castigated by many as some kind of Kenyan Muslim anchor baby who is intentionally destroying America!

Guess again. That particular phrase came from a 1992 proposal by the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank.

Or, imagine any modern politician uttering this ghastly phrase: "I am for people, individuals -- exactly like automobile insurance -- individuals having health insurance and being required to have health insurance." Yikes! That sounds like some socialist who is trying to turn America into a nanny-state Utopia, right?

Rrrnnnttt! Wrong again! That statement was made on "Meet the Press" in 1993 by none other than self-styled conservative kingpin Newt Gingrich.

Flash forward a couple of decades. When the guy in the White House makes statements similar to these, some folks denounce it all as radical leftist ideology.

In case you missed it last month -- When I discovered that May 17 marked the eighth anniversary of gay marriage in Massachusetts, I hastily dispatched my investigative aides to assess the devastation that 18,400 gay marriages must have inflicted upon that noble commonwealth. I'll try to get back to you on their findings.

Meanwhile, for the desperate, dwindling few who keep trying to unring the bells of marriage equality, here's a recap of the constant clanging during 2012: Washington state legalized gay marriage (pending a Nov. 6 ballot measure); California's anti-gay marriage Proposition 8 was ruled unconstitutional by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; New Jersey passed a bill to legalize same-sex marriage (Gov. Chris Christie vetoed it); Maryland legalized same-sex marriage (pending a legal challenge); President Obama endorsed same-sex marriage; and last week the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Boston ruled that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutionally denies federal benefits to gay couples. It's not just a few bells clanging anymore.

Ever hear of the greater good? -- At the risk of causing acid reflux countywide, I offer this unscientific observation: If every local jurisdiction affected by a major transportation project got to vote on that project, the Interstate Highway System would've remained a figment of Dwight Eisenhower's imagination.