Spady: Facebook gag on political ads is biggest enemy of rational opposition

Feb 26, 2020, 7:37 AM | Updated: 9:11 am

Facebook political ads...

(AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

(AP Photo/Thibault Camus, File)

“I just don’t have time to respond.”

Over my last 10 years pitching politicians in Washington, that line above has become eerily familiar. Democrat or Republican, they just don’t seem to have time to respond to the comments that we might create as an advertising agency with digital doorbelling to their voters via Facebook. That has been the argument to not run Facebook ads time and again.

City Council candidates, gubernatorial candidates, and yes, even a presidential candidate, have said that line to me as I pitched the simple concept I’ve found to be my political creed and motto.

If we engage the voters, respond to those on both sides of the aisle politely (Trump threw the “politely” part in the trash), and yes, advertise those engagements to local voters over Facebook, we can build the rational opposition we need to elect politicians that will fight the bad policies we see from Seattle, King County, and the little swamp in Olympia.

Sadly, in the time since I’ve taken this radio show, Facebook itself has banned their advertising for political candidates in our state in response to an irrational lawsuit from our tort happy attorney general.

Washington state AG Bob Ferguson clearly observed as I did, that an insurgent Donald Trump outspent Hilary Clinton $70 million to $10 million on Facebook. Facing a true avenue to victory for moderates, conservatives, and outsider candidates alike, our Attorney General did the only thing he could to protect Washington Democrats from future insurgent candidates on both sides of the aisle: He sued Facebook.

Together with the Public Disclosure Commission, our attorney general and the ever-silent conservative right have allowed a vital avenue for free speech in Washington to slam shut. Alongside our politicians, the voters and local media have been complicit in this hoodwinking of our free speech rights.

In my opinion, the lack of Facebook advertising is why the moderate movement in Seattle didn’t gain steam in 2019, and it’s why I fear we are gifting Washington to our far-left opposition for years to come.

Over 70% of Washingtonians are on Facebook. How can we build a rational opposition to an income tax, bad policies on homelessness, and lack of true concern for conservation by our governor if we can’t reach each other using modern digital media?

That’s digital media our governor utilized in his run for presidency, spending $1 million on Facebook Ads to advance his virtue signal platform to America. It was a message of climate, climate, climate, as we at home have seen increased encampments, trash, and now a plan to protect our local dump from bald eagles with fireworks.

Let me be very frank to my friends on the conservative side: Your opposition is beatable if you can get your message out and build a new coalition.

In King County, conservatives and moderate Democrats can win on a platform that focuses on addiction (helping those on our streets onto a pathway to self sufficiency), affordable housing (increasing supply by partnering with the development community using city, county, and state owned land), and cleaning up trash by first facing the homeless crisis head on, but also advancing the climate battle by building a waste to energy management plant like our friends in Europe to handle our obvious trash eagle issue.

The Rational Opposition is yours now Washington, but if we don’t get Facebook advertising in the hands of an engaged and well-rounded candidate, the conservative movement may die underneath an onslaught of an income taxes, new fees, spiraling regulations, and yet another virtue signaling governor that talks climate, Green New Deals, and kindness, as our communities are covered in literal trash and used needles.

If I leave you with anything as I walk away from the radio, please do remember what I look for in a good politician, and that the labels we wield as weapons are dangerous and cult-like. I hope we stop voting “R” and “D,” and start looking for politicians that are:

Fiscally responsible

Politicians should treat government dollars with care and concern. If the results aren’t there be sure to try new solutions as you are using our dollars.

Those on both sides of the aisle should take a long look at our $23 trillion dollar debt created by a run of both Democrat and Republican presidents.

Willing to respond

In this digital age, we deserve politicians that treat their constituents with respect and talk back over every avenue. A great leader responds to those who both agree and disagree with them. Both AOC and Donald Trump will respond to the haters.

Seattle, don’t forget that your Seattle City Council Members make over $129,000 a year with a full staff, but can’t seem to respond to your emails and concerns within the week, much less the month or even the quarter if you are lucky to get a response at all.

Let me be clear: Your politicians have the time and ample resources to respond to you their voters. The reason they “don’t have time to respond” is because they have constructed an echo chamber built to block out your cries for rational policies, tax leniency where possible, and safety on our streets.

Politicians need to be bold and humble

We are facing real problems that deserve creative solutions. It takes bold politicians to put forth ideas that are new and sometimes scary.

We also need to give our politicians the leeway to make mistakes when pursuing their bold solutions, but they need to be accountable and capable of seeing when their ideas have failed with our dollars.

For example, in Seattle, we can be bold and offer developers additional air rights in return for gifting their bottom two floors to a high-performing service provider. Don’t worry — I didn’t break my brain with this idea. I’ll be humble, because Amazon is already doing it with zero incentives.

It should be easy to create a program to partner with the business community to do more good work like this with tax credits and incentives.

From Democrats, to Republicans, and yes even Socialists, I judge them on the above guidelines. They may not be perfect, but it could help you find your way as we build new coalitions in the coming years and decades here in Washington.

Our innovation, our constant drive for growth, our natural resources, our diverse geographic make-up, and more importantly, our ability to create a welcoming oasis for those from all backgrounds, genders, sexual orientation, races, and creeds to thrive and build their world class businesses with a world class workforce is what makes Washington special.

Call it the Washington competitive advantage if you will.

This will and should always Make Washington Great.

Thank you and good day my fellow Washingtonians.

The rational opposition is in your hands.

Saul Spady

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Spady: Facebook gag on political ads is biggest enemy of rational opposition