I love Seattle. Seattle is the most liberal city in America. Of the city's 1,006 precincts, John Kerry won 1,005 in 2004; in 2008, Barack Obama won 1,005 of them by more than a 60 percent margin.
I love Seattle. We are America’s best-educated city, and we lead the nation in literacy (bookstores, advanced degrees, libraries, resources, and periodical publication), environmental stewardship, sustainability, rates of recycling and coffee consumption.[pullquote]We should be a city that respects the desires and dreams of the child who falls asleep clutching a book, as well as the child who falls asleep clutching a basketball.[/pullquote]
I’m a proud liberal. Liberals have compassionate values and ethical priorities. We love government, and we love to vote for the taxes to pay for measures to increase people’s quality of life, to provide social justice, and to invest in our future.
I get almost giddy when I get to vote on a measure to increase my property taxes for a school levy or a parks bond or for road repair or for Sound Transit. I am proud when my City Council votes to invest my tax dollars in Little League fields, libraries, museums, opera or the theater.
Now the fact is that I don’t play Little League, I went to the opera once, I go to the Seattle Art Museum or MOHAI about once in every five years, I go to the library to return my wife’s books, and I miss too many plays.
But I probably spend about 100 hours a year watching NBA games, sadly now only on TV. As a child growing up in Maryland, I watched Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell play against my Baltimore Bullets. I saw Wes Unseld and Earl Monroe play as rookies, then moved to Seattle and saw Xavier McDaniel, Gary Payton, Shawn Kemp, and Kevin Durant (sigh) play as rookies. I had the supreme honor of attending the Seventh Game of an NBA Finals.
The Sonics lost that Seventh Game, but the next year we won, and I sprinted from my house to drink in Pioneer Square with about 50,000 other ecstatic fans. I own a Sonics blanket, pillow, lunch box, autographed basketball, and Reggie King’s signed warm-up jersey.
I love Seattle and I love liberals, but sometimes we are so politically correct that we ask the wrong questions. For instance: “What is more important, sports—or schools or libraries or health care for the poor or clean water or justice for all?” Of course sports is “less important,” especially if you are asking the wrong question.
At that point we liberals get close to crossing the line from educated enlightenment to snobbery or elitism. We call for investment in the leisure- time priorities of the well-educated, but not always of working people.
As liberals, we pride ourselves in caring about people more than the right wing does. We should be a city that respects the desires and dreams of the child who falls asleep clutching a book, as well as the child who falls asleep clutching a basketball.
Dwight Pelz is a prominent Seattle liberal.