Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its eighth anniversary, marking the end of ninety six months of opposing harmful right wing initiatives, especially those sponsored by Tim Eyman. These last fifty two weeks – our eighth year – rank among the most difficult – but also the most rewarding – in our history. The following is a brief recap of our accomplishments:
- Throughout our eighth year, we were part of the realization of one of Permanent Defense’s two original goals: the successful completion of Sound Transit’s Central Link light rail line. Staff were invited on several test runs of the line prior to its July 18th grand opening, and Permanent Defense’s parent organization, the Northwest Progressive Institute, provided extensive coverage of that event. We were again present for the December 19th opening of the Airport Link extension, which brought the line into the City of SeaTac.
- We tirelessly worked as part of one of the biggest coalitions in Washington State history to defeat Tim Eyman’s Initiative 1033, the Mukilteo profiteer’s most destructive measure ever. After a frenzied October, which saw an unprecedented mobilization of clergy, municipal leaders, activists, community groups, and progressive organizations, we won a spectacular victory that spanned the Cascade Mountains. Our triumph marked Eyman’s second consecutive defeat at the ballot and his first in an odd-numbered year.
- As part of the effort to defeat Initiative 1033, we built a grassroots campaign hub and organized opposition to the initiative through social networking. By Election Day, the NO on Initiative 1033 Facebook page co-maintained by Permanent Defense had surpassed thirteen thousand fans. We also worked to ensure that journalists heard about the consequences of I-1033 by regularly responding to Tim Eyman’s propaganda.
- In the aftermath of the election, we began preparing to oppose Tim Eyman’s next measure, a do-over of Initiative 960 (2007) which the Legislature is poised to suspend. We provided an opposition presence at Eyman’s kickoff event in the Secretary of State’s office on January 11th.
- Finally, we began work on a major overhaul of Permanent Defense’s website (Version 8, codenamed Camano) which will officially launch this week as part of our anniversary celebrations. Our new website runs on an incredibly powerful free software stack, and is ten times more robust than every prior incarnation.
We also continued to lobby the Legislature to reform the initiative process. The House and Senate are each considering bills we support that would make a difference. One would make it harder for Tim Eyman to go ballot title shopping, another would require mercenary petitioners to be more accountable. We are hopeful that at least one of these bills will make it out of the statehouse this year.
We know that despite our successes, the underlying problems that allow Tim Eyman to exist – especially our regressive tax structure, but also a lack of political courage – remain unaddressed. These problems will not be solved by simply defeating forthcoming right wing ballot measures like Initiative 1053. Every time we defeat a Tim Eyman initiative, we are merely treating a symptom. Solving the underlying problems will take nothing less than a Herculean endeavor, and a strategic shift on the part of our movement. Permanent Defense’s parent organization, the Northwest Progressive Institute, was formed in August of 2003 to help make this strategic shift possible.
Although Permanent Defense’s narrowly focused work remains important, the larger work that NPI is undertaking has become even more critical and more important, because the clock is ticking. For too long, we have dithered and procrastinated, and allowed ourselves to be more concerned about winning elections than addressing the conditions that are precipitating the decline of our communities, our state, and our country. That must change. Our future depends on our ability to grow our common wealth, not just safeguard what we have.
Thanks for being a supporter and staying committed to the tough goal of neutralizing harmful right wing initiatives, year after year. Together, we will continue to provide a much needed first line of defense against new threats to our future.