Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its ninth anniversary, marking the conclusion of one hundred and eight months of continuous operation. PD now begins its tenth year of existence. Remarkably, in fifty-two weeks, it will reach the end of its first decade.
When Permanent Defense first went live on February 13th, 2002, it was devoted to a single purpose: defeating Tim Eyman’s Initiative 776, which sought to prevent Sound Transit from constructing Central Link by taking away one of ST’s two principal sources of revenue. Unfortunately, PD’s first mission was unsuccessful: Initiative 776 passed narrowly despite the best efforts of a well-organized opposition coalition.
But unlike the NO on I-776 campaign and other campaigns against Eyman initiatives from years past, PD did not go away, dissolve, or close its virtual doors after that disappointing election. Rather, it was strengthened by the loss. In the spirit of its name, it became a permanent campaign against right wing initiatives.
And it has made a difference. Prior to Permanent Defense’s formation, Eyman had gotten an initiative past voters for several years running. After Permanent Defense’s first year, Tim Eyman’s streak of consecutive victories ended. Since I-776, voters have approved just three Eyman initiatives: I-900, I-960, and I-1053.
Unfortunately, Eyman needs to be successful only occasionally to remain relevant, as the last election showed.
There’s no question this last year (PD’s ninth) ranks as the toughest in its history. We fought five right wing initiatives, and regrettably, two of them, including Eyman’s I-1053, got through… and by sickeningly large margins.
Eyman has already announced he intends to run I-1053 again in 2012. Thankfully, it appears that his initiative factory has run out of money for a spell, and consequently, he doesn’t have an initiative in the works for this year (2011). But that doesn’t mean Eyman won’t be trying to cause mischief.
And it doesn’t mean Permanent Defense can go on hiatus. There may be other right wing initiatives to fight, and we need to begin laying the groundwork to stop Eyman’s I-1053 clone in 2012. It will take a Herculean effort to show voters that nullifying majority rule goes against everything our country and our state’s founders believed in. They gave us a system of representative government which has endured for centuries. I-1053, like I-960 and I-601 before it, are purposely intended to wreck that system.
The campaign against I-1053 failed because it came together too late. Resources were not committed until the very end, and by that point, the battle had already been lost. We at Permanent Defense are committed to making sure this never happens again. We’ll be spending our tenth year in infrastructure-building mode, so we have greater resources to commit early and often against Eyman and his schemes.
We’re taking a critical step forward today by forming a Rapid Response team, which will respond and react to right-wing misinformation in the media through comments and letters to the editor on an ongoing basis. If you’d like to be part of the team, you can sign up on our volunteer page.
Although we endured some significant setbacks during the past twelve months, there were some bright spots. A few days after our last anniversary, we gave PD’s virtual home its biggest overhaul to date with Version 8, codenamed “Camano”, transforming it from a collection of static web pages to a powerful, database-driven site. PermanentDefense.org has never looked better, and it’s much simpler to implement changes, thanks to the ease of administration offered by WordPress.
We’re also proud of StopGreed.org, the combined campaign site we built to provide information about the corporate fronts behind each of the five right wing initiatives on the 2010 ballot. Three of them (I-1082, I-1100, I-1105) were overwhelmingly defeated by voters; the other two (I-1053, I-1107) passed, as mentioned previously. Some of the features and tools we built for StopGreed.org will probably be incorporated into Permanent Defense itself, to help activists, voters, and reporters better track and understand right wing initiatives.
Finally, we’re thankful that Tim Eyman was unsuccessful in his efforts to prevent records of who signed his initiatives from being turned over to interested citizens. Our state has a tradition of open government, and open government doesn’t just mean accountable elected leaders. People who sponsor and sign initiatives are not entitled to anonymity. The process of citizen lawmaking must be transparent, and we’re glad the courts have recognized that.
Significant obstacles lie ahead on the path towards a better quality of life for our state and our country. There really hasn’t been a better time to get involved. If you are not already, consider becoming a volunteer.
Your voice and your ideas are Permanent Defense’s greatest asset.