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Car Tab Fight & The Danger To Democracy

We are being warned about the legal battle over cart tabs in Washington State.  An expert tells me the political divide between Americans has already become “insidious” and that this car tab fight will probably make it worse.

If you weren’t aware, a strong majority of voters in Washington State (55%) recently approved a $30 cap on car tabs (registration fees).

Voters in and around Seattle are really the only ones who rejected the cap.  Voters everywhere else — generally approved and accepted it.

It has enormous implications, of course.  Local leaders all across the state could be scrambling to fill massive gaps in funding for transportation projects, which plenty of them don’t want to do.  It’s a huge problem, no doubt.

Leaders with the City of Seattle, King County, and various other transportation agencies and leadership groups are so freaked out about it they’ve decided to — essentially — sue to reverse the result of the vote.

They say they are standing up for the voters in and around Seattle.

I’ve seen this kind of thing before, but I haven’t seen it quite like this…where the “big city” essentially says, “the rest of you don’t know what you voted for and we are going to correct it for you.  We need the money, sorry.”

Imagine the impact that could have on each and every voter who approved the measure.

“We don’t know what we voted for?  Who the hell are you to tell me that?  You need my money??  Sorry??  Eff you, man.”

Unfortunately, it’s the kind of thing that has already divided Americans…and LARGELY by location — rural vs. urban.

And my guy Ben Gaskins, an assistant professor of political science at Louis & Clark College, says this car tab fight will only deepen that particular divide.

He says — the way rural people see it, “they work harder, they complain less, they have significant disadvantages in that they have to drive (farther) to go shopping or to get necessities and they’re subject to higher gas prices.”

In a world where urban and rural people already don’t like each other much, Gaskins says this will only make them dislike each other more.

But on a more fundamental point, Gaskins says the move to “sue against the will of the voters” (as has been said) could become incredibly toxic for democracy.

He says the fact that, “many voters do not automatically connect electoral outcomes with democratic legitimacy is another problematic feature of modern politics.”

I must say — I’m struck by it.  It smells of “sore losing”, I have to admit.  I don’t know about solutions, but it’s got me thinking for sure.






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