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Is Jay Inslee Ready for the Other Washington?

He won’t say if he’s running for POTUS 2020, but our governor will fight Trump to the finish.

By Jessica Voelker November 20, 2017 Published in the December 2017 issue of Seattle Met

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Image: Oliver Ludlow

Will he or won’t he? Jay Inslee’s name pops up all over early lists of 2020 contenders for the U.S. presidency, but the fifth-generation Washingtonian once dubbed “the greenest governor in the country” refuses to betray his plans. He bats away the POTUS question with a “too early to think in those terms,” then reminds you that there’s plenty to do from here. These days, this mostly means battling a White House that, from climate change to immigration, threatens to upend everything our 23rd governor—pictured here in his downtown Seattle office—has spent his career championing. And while he may be reticent about political ambitions, Inslee makes his current occupation quite clear. He will fight Donald Trump and his administration to the finish. —JV

I walked into a Spanish class in 1966, on the first day of Ingraham High School. This girl sitting in the first row had a beautiful white blouse and beautiful hair. And I’ve been married to her for 46 years. 

We raised three feral boys in the sagebrush of Selah—northern Yakima. And now I’ve got three grandkids.

My oldest grandson is eight. We were out walking in the San Juans, and he looked at something and said: “We are all nature,” which I thought was like something Sophocles would say. I painted it on a rock and gave it to him. I wanted him to remember.

Our state is one of the most blessed places on the planet. And we have pursued policies to preserve and protect clean air and clean water, pretty much regardless of who is in Washington, DC.

The atmosphere and the oceans have changed, and the rate of change is if not terrifying, then disturbing. 

That we know we won’t get help from the White House is a stronger argument for why we need to act here. 

I wish we didn’t have to deal with the intolerance and the outright hatred that Donald Trump has unleashed, or at least accommodated. 

But these are great days to fight for things you believe in and maintain the direction of the country and the state. People out there in pink hats, in the cold of January, can look back at this time the way people who marched with the civil rights folks look back.

We understand the power of being a welcoming place [in Washington state]. We took in Vietnamese refugees when other states would not, and now they’re building Boeing airplanes and they’re physicians.

Every single time a Dreamer [has] looked a legislator in the eyes, it became impossible for them to say no. We know these folks have such tremendous ambition and talent.

We started a lawsuit because we believe the president has not acted legally. 

I have a book about Thomas Jefferson and his writings, and one of them is this article he wrote comparing American, European, and Asian poetry, and their meters. That guy was a genius.

I wonder what Donald Trump’s meter would be. It would be singular. Dashes and dots. Morse code. All caps.

Winston Churchill would walk the streets during the Blitz, and the smoke was acrid and London was on fire. He said, “These are not dark days: These are great days.” The moment where the most was at stake, we have the ability to demonstrate courage and persistence, and resolution, and commitment to basic values.

Don’t give up on the nation, or yourself. 

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