The American people spoke. The 2016 election is over. For that brief moment of silence we’re grateful.
We’re also sorrowful and deeply worried about the direction that our country is headed with Republican Donald Trump taking over the presidency in January. He is a rash-talking man who will be given access to nuclear launch codes.
We mourn the defeat of Democrat Hillary Clinton. Voters in our state favored her decisively. If she had been elected as the first woman president, Clinton would have smashed the ultimate glass ceiling in our culture and ensured a steady hand at the tiller.
Clinton narrowly won the popular vote nationally but her vote margin here was 18 percentage points. That is a regional rebuke to Trump, the reality television star who offered false economic hope to millions of disillusioned Americans left out of the economic rebound of the past decade.
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We hope Trump finds ways to heal a divided nation. It is in question whether he has skills to do it after running the most xenophobic, immigrant-bashing campaign we’ve seen in a lifetime. But he must take a shot at it.
In the end, Trump’s renegade campaign cuts against the grain of Pacific Northwest values and economic interests. Voters in this state and other trade-dependent West Coast communities identify themselves in more global, welcoming terms rather than the nationalistic terms Trump used to demonize immigrants.
As we pick through the election wreckage, we see that by large margins Washingtonians chose to stay the course. They favored statewide incumbents — on either side of the aisle ranging from Democratic Gov. Jay Inslee to Republican Secretary of State Kim Wyman.
Inslee cruised to easy re-election over Republican Bill Bryant. Voters returned three Supreme Court justices, all 11 congressional incumbents (seven Democrats, four Republicans) on the ballot, and a slew of legislative incumbents on both sides of the aisle.
A few victorious candidates set “firsts.” State Sen. Cyrus Habib, a Democrat who is of Iranian-American descent and legally blind, won election as lieutenant governor. Democratic state Sen. Pramila Jayapal, an Indian-American from Seattle, won a seat in the U.S. House.
The Legislature remains divided. Democrats are likely to gain one seat in the Senate (resulting in a 25-24 GOP-coalition majority) and two seats in the House (for a 52-46 Democratic majority).
As important, Washington voters used the ballot box to endorse policies that are more likely to help regular families than a repeal of Obamacare or other Trump initiatives may bring about. This should give hope to a younger generation that rejected Trump.
First, there was the strong vote enacting a new wage law that will ratchet up the state’s minimum wage to $11 per hour in January and to $13.50 by 2020. Initiative 1433 also requires paid sick leave for workers.
Second, voters in the central Puget Sound metro area approved a new tax and investment of $54 billion over 25 years for mass transit. Those Sound Transit investments should give better options for commuters and serve as stimulus for our regional economy.
At the same time, Trump’s unorthodox campaign has put a sharp focus on the reality that globalization hasn’t helped millions of Americans. Those resentments — compounded by the steady but slow recovery from the 2007-08 financial crisis — have produced a national backlash.
It is better that the backlash is channeled to produce real improvements in the lives of workers displaced from jobs by globalization. Job retraining and education investments are one way to do that.
We should not forget how far our country has come since the financial crisis of 2007-08. The economy that stagnated then collapsed under President George W. Bush is still growing after eight years.
Jobs are being added, and more Americans than ever have health care coverage. The nation better understands the needs of veterans of foreign wars. Same-sex couples have legal rights that were considered unattainable a decade ago.
A lot of these gains may be turned aside. But our system of government provides many avenues for citizen action — including initiatives at the state level and checks and balances against the powers of Congress and the president.
Those who are devastated by Tuesday’s vote results need to find ways to channel their angst into action to protect the gains they cherish and continue to push their values forward.
This is how Americans keep hope alive.