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Brendan Williams: In 2011, I Will...

By Brendan Williams December 24, 2010

PubliCola asked 2010 newsmakers to tell us what their 2011 resolutions were. Dissident state house Democrat Rep. Brendan Williams resigned in 2010. What's up for 2011?

Next up in our series of 2011 New Year's resolutions from 2010 newsmakers—outgoing state Rep. Brendan Williams (D-22, Olympia).

No, Williams wasn't ousted in 2010's red wave (in fact, he's being replaced by the Democrat he endorsed, Chris Reykdal). Williams, a disaffected liberal ever since he came to believe that the conservative Building Industry Association of Washington was controlling Democratic house speaker Rep. Frank Chopp, resigned in disgust at leadership's inability to push a progressive agenda.

Curious how Williams planned to push a progressive agenda himself—from outside the legislature vs. inside—we asked for his 2011 To Do list.
My resolution is to do all I can to help Democrats regain their moral voice on social justice.Too often Democrats concede talk of morality to the Republicans, while sacrificing their stated values in order to retain standing within a political aristocracy where self-congratulation is the real core value.

A state budget proposal that leaves over one million Washingtonians without health care was offered the same day outgoing Democratic Congressional super-majorities were facilitating President Obama’s tax proposal to create the greatest income inequality in the history of the United States of America.  The Seattle Times may not be concerned by this juxtaposition—but Democrats should be.

How can a moral society reduce hours for home care clients by 10 percent while retaining a tax preference for the very architects of our global economic recession: Wall Street banks?  How can a moral society close community health clinics while requiring taxpayers to keep subsidizing cleanup of Big Oil’s stormwater pollution?  How can a moral society allow its public servants to keep open a private dining room designed to isolate legislators from the public while considering eliminating the State Food Assistance Program? “Happy to be here” cannot be the dominant political ideology of those who serve us in these most challenging of times.

Democrats have an opportunity to regain their moral voice, and fundamental relevance, in the critical year that lies ahead.  To do so will require more than distributing shopworn copies of Golden Oldie progressive accomplishments from previous biennia – it requires fighting for progressive values in the present.  Minimally it requires triage to protect our most vulnerable, instead of concealing their suffering with tripe like “cuts with a conscience” that scarcely whets the public’s appetite for sacrifice.  Real leadership challenges – it doesn’t pander to base instincts.  I’m ready to fight in the new year!—Brendan Williams

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