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Rantz: Gov. Inslee’s coronavirus power trip is killing representative democracy

Gov. Inslee announces a ban on indoor gatherings and dining on Sunday morning. (TVW)

Governor Jay Inslee is on a coronavirus-fueled political power trip. It shows a weakness in Washington’s supposed representative democracy. In fact, we’re not being represented at all right now.

The governor is mad with power. He’s enabled by enough Democrats too cowardly to go on the record with their stances on economy-killing mandates. So why have a government at all if we’re going to give one power-hungry, incompetent politician so much power?

Like so many problems facing Washington, this one is also self-imposed.

Inslee is on a coronavirus power trip

In over his head, Inslee has refused to call a special legislative session. He doesn’t want to admit he doesn’t know what he’s doing, after he and his staff spent months bragging about how Washington knew what it was doing while other Republican-run states were suffering from surges. Suddenly, despite robust contact tracing (which he no longer seems to trust) and high rates of mask use, we’re in a third wave of rising COVID cases.

Inslee has instituted more mandates, specifically targeting businesses that are quite literally the least responsible for the current surge of cases — restaurants, gyms, and retail. After initially saying he wouldn’t really offer much financial assistance to the businesses he’s putting under, he held a hastily thrown-together press briefing to tell us help is on the way in the form of … waiting for the federal government to give him money.

A special legislative session is in order. Every day wasted is another day a business can and likely will take another giant leap toward permanent closure. But he refuses. Inslee claims he’d come together with lawmakers if there were serious pieces of legislation being offered, but says there aren’t any. He’s lying. There’s legislation being crafted — the merits of which could be debated right this moment if he called for a special session. But he won’t.

Inslee doesn’t want his mandates questioned. He is a man of data and science, even if he doesn’t understand neither the data nor the science. But he thinks that if he says “data and science” enough times, we’ll believe it’s guiding his decisions. Why, then, has the state regressed so poorly under his leadership? A third surge doesn’t sound like the result of a leader who knows what he’s doing.

Don’t question Inslee or his minions

It’s not just that Inslee doesn’t want you to question him, or even override him. The move is to offer political coverage for cowardly Democrats who don’t want to go on the record backing Inslee’s deeply unpopular mandates.

If you’re a state representative out of Snohomish County, do you want to tell your community already struggling from the Boeing issues that you’re backing mandates that put restaurants out of business? If you’re a Democrat in purple Pierce County, do you want to explain why you’re not pushing harder to reopen schools when data very clearly supports opening them up?

Inslee doesn’t want to put his loyal foot soldiers in tough spots with constituents or teacher unions. Keeping them out of Olympia means they don’t have to go on the record. It’s not like local media can offer daily reminders on where every representative stands on each mandate.

The governor also doesn’t want to shine a bigger spotlight on the brave Democrats who have come forward to challenge him publicly on restaurant closures. Some have already done that, including far-leftist senators. Inslee isn’t making sense even to them. This suggests there are quite a few more lawmakers who would, if they had to, vote against Inslee’s mandates. Right now, they’re just too terrified to say anything publicly. Let us not mistake holding office for being a leader.

We’re not being represented

Republicans are doing what they can to put political pressure to convene a special legislative session, but with little leverage, they won’t be able to get it done.

Normally you would count on media outlets to put on the pressure, but too many outlets here go easy on Inslee and other Democratic politicians. Some need access to him or his office for stories, and they don’t want to ruin their relationships. Others simply agree with Inslee so they definitely won’t push him too hard.

Our system wasn’t meant to go this long, during a statewide crisis, without representation. Yet here we are without lawmakers doing their jobs, representing their constituency. We deserve better. We should demand better.

Listen to the Jason Rantz Show weekday afternoons from 3-6 p.m. on KTTH 770 AM (or HD Radio 97.3 FM HD-Channel 3). Subscribe to the podcast here. Follow @JasonRantz on Twitter and Instagram or like me on Facebook

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