February 15th, 2014
Twelve Years: Statement from the Founder
Today and throughout this month, Permanent Defense celebrates its twelfth anniversary, marking one hundred and forty-four months of continuous operation. Since February 15th, 2002, PD has served as a critical first line of defense against threats to the commonwealth and the Constitution of Washington State, fighting destructive right wing ballot measures and opposing Tim Eyman’s initiative factory.
PD is also the Northwest Progressive Institute’s oldest project; it became part of the Northwest Progressive Institute when NPI was founded on August 22nd, 2003.
Much has changed in the twelve years since Permanent Defense was launched, in both politics and technology. Permanent Defense happens to be older than the publishing platform it currently runs on (WordPress), older than much of the political blogosphere (including Daily Kos, the Huffington Post, and Politico), and, as mentioned, older than its own parent organization (NPI).
But one thing has not changed: the commitment to ensuring that harmful right wing ballots get the immediate opposition they deserve. That is what Permanent Defense does and does well. For twelve years, PD has worked to protect Washington. Prior to PD’s founding, Tim Eyman was winning at the ballot every year, though his first three successful initiatives were all later overturned by the Supreme Court.
Since PD was founded, however, Eyman has had no consecutive victories at the ballot. This was true two years ago when Permanent Defense celebrated its tenth anniversary, and it remains true today.
While our state and our region remain in need of a progressive movement that can go on offense, Washington’s common wealth and Constitution cannot be left undefended.
That is why Permanent Defense’s work is so important. Campaigns and coalitions come and go, but Permanent Defense is always there. Its resilience stems from its relentlessness; it is a project that lives up to its name.
I am very pleased to report that Permanent Defense’s twelfth year was one of its greatest yet, accentuated by two great victories for our Constitution and our commonwealth: one in court, and one in the court of public opinion.
Early on in the year, the Washington State Supreme Court finally ruled that the undemocratic provision at the heart of Eyman’s I-601 clones… as well as I-601 itself… was unconstitutional. As a consequence, majority rule was restored to our statehouse, and revenue can now be raised by majority vote, like our founders intended.
After having avoided the justiciable controversy in past cases, the Court finally made it unequivocally clear in League of Education Voters v. State of Washington that the words “majority vote” in Article II, Section 22 mean a majority… greater than fifty percent. No more and no less. The ruling is not even a year old yet, but already it ranks as one of the Court’s best and most important decisions.
Later in the year, Permanent Defense worked closely with many other organizations, including some that had supported Eyman’s I-601 clones, to build a strong and diverse coalition to oppose Initiative 517. The goal of Eyman’s I-517 was to make it cheaper and easier for Eyman to qualify initiatives to the ballot, so he could make his initiative factory more lucrative and profitable.
When we first started working against I-517, we were told by many people that it would be difficult to win. But we proved the skeptics wrong on Election Night when the initial results showed I-517 losing, and losing big.
The magnitude of the victory only increased in the days that followed, and within a week, I-517 had become Tim Eyman’s biggest defeat ever, percentage-wise. In the end, the coalition against I-517 claimed 62.71% of the vote. It was the only campaign that received more than a million votes in the election.
Although our electoral focus was on defeating I-517, we also worked to help Washingtonians understand that the five “advisory votes” on their 2013 ballot were really push polls required by Tim Eyman’s I-960. Our efforts to help educate voters paid off. Even though the wording of the questions strongly encouraged voters to vote “Repealed”, a majority of Washingtonians nevertheless defied Eyman and chose to vote “Maintained” instead on three of the five push polls.
While we take great pride in these successes, we know there is more work to do. Tim Eyman hasn’t called it quits. In fact, he remains as obsessed as ever with making his two-thirds to raise revenue scheme the law of the land.
Since our founders very wisely did not make it possible to amend the Constitution by ballot initiative, Eyman is hawking a Ted Cruz-style measure that would repeal $1 billion in funding for our public schools each year unless the Legislature approves a constitutional amendment to make Eyman’s two-thirds scheme permanent.
Eyman is essentially attempting to blackmail lawmakers by taking our schools hostage. It is outrageous and we will not stand for it. With your help, we will ensure that Eyman’s I-1325 receives the fierce opposition it deserves.
We know from over a decade of experience fighting right wing initiatives that getting an early start makes a huge difference. Given that Eyman has printed up petitions for I-1325, there can be no doubt that Eyman is serious about getting I-1325 to the ballot.
In the past, Eyman has consistently been able to find a wealthy benefactor to finance his initiative factory when he needed one. We are therefore assuming that I-1325 will be on the ballot. If it doesn’t make it, all well and good, but we can’t afford to wait and hope that Eyman falls short. I-1325 is incredibly destructive and it needs opposition now. We will provide that early opposition and ask other organizations to join us in building a strong coalition to defeat I-1325. To do that, we need your help.
- If you are not a member of the Northwest Progressive Institute, we urge you to become one. Members are the backbone of NPI’s supporter community, providing the time, talent, and treasure that makes NPI’s work possible.
- If you see a petitioner collecting signatures for I-1325, we ask that you report your experience immediately so we can track Eyman’s signature drive.
- And if you are free on the evening of April 25th, 2014, we encourage you to join us for NPI’s sixth Spring Fundraising Gala, where we will celebrate the victory over I-517 and explain what we’re doing to mobilize opposition to I-1325.
Through perseverance and hard work, we have won many victories over these past twelve years. Tim Eyman may be relentless, but so are we. We don’t give in and we don’t give up, because our Constitution and our commonwealth need safeguarding.
We need this fighting spirit to be contagious. It is no exaggeration to say that our region’s future depends on our efforts.
Here’s to a great thirteenth year for Permanent Defense.