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This op-ed piece penned by the “progressive” minority of the City Council seems to have missed the point of both initiatives entirely. While it’s obviously fine to disagree with the nuts and bolts of the two initiatives, suggesting electing better leadership to local government as a solution really misses the mark. At this point in U.S. politics, the entrenched power of money in politics pervades every level of our supposedly democratic processes, including the local. Electing ‘better’ or ‘more progressive’ members into the structure we currently operate within can be considered a defensive maneuver at best, one taken to ensure that things don’t get any worse at a local level. Defense might be an important part of moving forward to something better, but to suggest it as the entire solution seems ridiculous given the extent of decay within our system today. As a young person tasked with fixing the immense *structural* problems we face that threaten not only things like social programs that help those in poverty [while ignoring the underlying economic system that creates poverty in the first place], but continued human life on the planet, it’s easy for me and many of my peers to see that in order to fix them, we will need radically different solutions than the ones we’ve been attempting to use. For me, that means that even using the legal framework like Envision Spokane’s initiative and SMAC’s initiative both intend to do might not be effective enough, due to the federal government’s established pattern of blurring the lines of state’s rights and local control coupled with its overt control by multinational incorporated wealth. However, I think that it’s a place to start. The entire point is to confront the bad structures inherent in laws that exist. It’s not as though the people who drafted these ordinances are dumb or ignorant of the law--as in fact many of them are lawyers--it’s that they understand the structural flaws inherent in the law, even in the all-holy Constitution, and want to work from the bottom up to create an entirely new sort of structure. We could parse over the detailed hypothetical lawsuits that may arise as a result of these initiatives for days, as I’m sure will continue to happen in forums like this, or we can make an attempt, even an imperfect one, to get at the roots of our issues rather than making continual cosmetic changes that leave the moneyed powers that be with the reins of “our” governing bodies. I’m disappointed to see the council members that I respect and like on a personal level going out of their way to oppose policies that many of their base and their would-be base are interested in exploring. While they may not have voted to preemptively shut down the initiative process, publishing an opinion like this could have been left to the conservative council members, the mayor, the Home Builders Association, GSI, or any number of the ‘usual suspects’. I hope that progressives, conservatives, moderates, humans, and everyone in between elects to do their own research on the two initiatives mentioned here and on the extent of the problems we face before settling on solutions that focus on our surface level issues. Dig out the roots!
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