Tuesday, May 14, 2019

2020 Challenger Lineup: Jay Inslee

I had a doctor's appointment yesterday and then I had to take a very important nap but I didn't forget about this again.

Alright, back to the less exciting candidates. Jay Inslee happens to be the governor of the state I currently live in and have lived in for my entire life. The general impression of him among the typical individual living in western Washington (eastern Washington is like an entirely different place but is sparsely populated so they kinda don't matter, it's not my fault it's the electoral college's fault) is that Jay Inslee is fine. I don't mean attractive, just that he's alright. I voted for him in the last election because he was the better choice. He's still a liberal, but he's good on climate change and has been a thorn in Trump's side, which is always great.

But I was surprised when he announced his candidacy. There has been speculation that he's only running to further his political career without expecting to win. However, his efforts to become known as the "climate candidate" could signal that he's serious, and as increasingly alarming reports about climate change come out, it's not outside the realm of possibility that this could propel him to the top of the polls. But, as usual, I'm not optimistic about that.

So let's talk about all the ways in which he's not leftist enough for me.

Inslee's campaign website only outlines his plan for 100% clean energy in the U.S. and his position on climate change. It's a ten-year-plan, which if he's elected and takes office in 2021 is almost fast enough to avoid the 2030 deadline to drastically reduce world emissions to avoid passing the point of no return into runaway climate change that will probably make the planet uninhabitable for humans. To quote his website:

To avoid the worst impacts of climate change, the global community must cut climate pollution in half by 2030, and achieve global net-zero pollution by mid-century. Governor Inslee’s plans will ensure that America meets these IPCC targets and leads the world in defeating climate change. As the world’s largest historical emitter of climate pollution and the global leader in technology innovation, America will be among the first to achieve that net-zero target, as fast as possible, and by no later than 2045.

I would almost want to support Inslee for this plan alone, but as an increasing number of scientists are finding, what we really need to do to save humanity is to abolish capitalism. And Inslee is a capitalist. So.

Looking for more details on Inslee's position on issues other than climate change, I found a very handy website called OnTheIssues that outlines how every political candidate has voted on key issues. Let's take a look.

He's pro-choice. He has voted to protect public housing and likes to pump money into the economy rather than support bullshit austerity policy. He's good on gay rights, but his position on trans rights is unclear. He's rated as being pro-labor and has helped to increase the minimum wage across the state, though $13.50 an hour is still way too low in a state that is so expensive to live in.

Inslee recently signed a bill to phase out the practice of jailing kids for skipping school or running away. I didn't even know we were doing that in this state and it seems supremely fucked up that any of that was happening at all but at least it's going to stop now? He also signed a bill allowing prisoners who would have been moved from juvenile detention to an adult prison at age 21 to stay in juvenile detention centers until age 25. It was a bill that these inmates helped write, so I feel like it should be supported, though I had thought juvenile prisoners were just released when they turned 18 and their record expunged. We're just transferring them to adult prison now? Fuck.

OnTheIssues indicated Inslee is not so good in general on criminal justice, getting a 40% rating on supporting rehabilitation of prisoners and voting to build more jails rather than focusing funds on non-prison solutions. He has a B- rating on drug policy reform.

He generally seems to like funding schools but has given some support to charter schools despite his 100% pro-public education rating, though it says he strongly opposes voucher programs. He helped expand early education programs. He supports sex ed but includes abstinence education with contraception education.

In terms of healthcare, OnTheIssues says "Take initial steps towards universal health care. (Mar 2019)." I don't know exactly what this means. However, Inslee recently signed a measure introducing a single-payer option into Washington's health insurance program, which is not bad. Because Inslee has continued to take federal grants to expand Medicare and Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, I was able to have free health insurance during all those years where my income was very low and get a pretty good subsidy right now. We'll see if the single-payer option is better.

Inslee is quite good on immigration issues. His open legal challenges to Trump on immigration and the Muslim ban are what first sparked speculation that he would run for president. Inslee has openly welcomed Syrian refugees and when Trump threatened to just send all undocumented migrants to sanctuary cities he was like "yeah do it immigrants rule."

He supports affirmative action and is good on voting rights. He's strongly for gun control but supports expanding the military.

OnTheIssues rates Inslee as a "hard-core liberal" which is a laughable term to me but whatever. He's solidly leaning left.

Inslee gets a boost for focusing on the one issue that might literally kill us all, but I see him as being somewhere in between "liberal" and "progressive." He's not as lefty as Liz or Bernie.

He gets a B+. He would get a B but he gets a plus for the clean energy plan. Regardless, he's still widely unknown at this point and I don't know if he has a viable path to the presidency. We'll see after this summer's superstorms.

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