November 3, 2012 at 7:00 PM
As election day looms, “zinger” retweets and reblogs catapult political memes into the public eye.
SEATTLE — Internet meme (n.): “a catchy phrase or idea associated with an image, which often becomes viral online.”
During the presidential debates, my Twitter feed was aflutter with homemade memes and my Tumblr flooded with political commentary in that oh-so familiar form of white blocky text over photos.
The first memes I remember seeing were of the “I can haz” variety, but plenty has changed in the past few years, and now this internet art form has become a key part of the 2012 presidential election.
This became especially apparent during the months leading up to the first of the 2012 presidential debates. As October neared, Internet users of all ages were churning out Obama and Romney memes at full-speed.
November 3, 2012 at 7:00 AM
SEATTLE — For Kyle Curtis, president of the University of Washington College Republicans, it is nearly impossible to show support for his chosen presidential candidate.
“I can’t tell you how hard it is to get a Mitt Romney sign in this state,” Curtis said.
Curtis did find a sign, but he also found confrontation. While holding the blue-and-red Mitt Romney poster on campus he got a disproving reaction from a passerby.
“He glared at us, then he took a few steps back,” Curtis said. “He was like, ‘You’re kidding me. You’re actually going to vote for Mitt Romney?’ and then I was like ‘Yes.’”
November 2, 2012 at 7:00 PM
Nationwide, young voters are less likely to vote this year than in 2008. But in Seattle, they’re more engaged than ever before.
SEATTLE — What do a skeleton, Rosie the Riveter and a walking cupcake all have in common?
They were among 400 creatively-costumed young activists trick-or-treating for votes and marriage equality in Seattle over Halloween weekend.
Trick or Vote, an annual “Get Out the Vote” canvassing event put on by Seattle-based non-profit Washington Bus, saw an unprecedented number of dedicated young people taking to the streets this year in their spookiest (or quirkiest) attire — reminding people to turn in their ballots before election day next week and to support Referendum 74.
It was the biggest turnout at an event in Washington Bus history. This is in keeping with an increasing number of young Seattleites taking politics into their own hands this year — especially when it comes to local and state issues — but this runs counter to national trends of youth-voter disengagement.
Washington Bus, unique in its youth-focused approach to political engagement, doubled its number of regular participants in just the past year. Most of these volunteers are under 25 years old.
According to Toby Crittenden, Washington Bus’ executive director, there are now more than 5,000 young people who canvas and phone bank with the Bus on a regular basis, which is ten times more than when it started up in 2007 (and yes, this includes 2008’s “Obamamania“).
November 2, 2012 at 8:00 AM
What can Virginia tell us about the presidential race? Seattle transplant and UW student Lisa Strube-Kilgore reflects on life in a purple state.
SEATTLE — All the polls seem to agree: Virginia’s looking pretty purple these days. Historically, Virginia was considered a democratic stronghold, but it’s also a deeply conservative state socially. Virginia’s 13 electoral votes went to President Obama in 2008, but this year could see a reversal as polls there seem to show the state as a toss-up.
The idea of living in a battleground state can be pretty foreign to us here in true blue Washington, where it can feel like you’re more likely to run across a unicorn than a swing voter. Even the idea of undecided voters seems to baffle us, but as a native Virginian, they’re no mystery to me. I know them. They’re my friends and family, my old neighbors and classmates, and right now, they’re the people every pollster and political aficionado wants to talk to. The outcome of this election, as pundits and analysts keep telling us, is very likely in their hands. Everyone wants to know how Virginians (and voters in states like it) are going to vote on November 6. Well, if you ask me, if you really want a good idea of what’s happening in Virginia, you need to head to Lynchburg. (more…)
November 1, 2012 at 7:01 PM
The Romney-Ryan campaign suffered a blow today over allegations of another staged photo op, its second in three weeks in the crucial swing state of Ohio.
Buzzfeed quotes an anonymous staffer as saying the Romney campaign purchased $5,000 worth of merchandise at an area Wal-Mart to serve as props in a hastily-planned “Relief Rally.” The original plan was to change a previously-planned “Victory Rally” into a “Relief Rally” to benefit those affected by Hurricane Sandy. However, the campaign faced a challenge in pulling off the switch in short notice and instead relied on prop donations paid for by the campaign itself. Buzzfeed writes:
But the last-minute nature of the call for donations left some in the campaign concerned that they would end up with an empty truck. So the night before the event, campaign aides went to a local Wal-Mart and spent $5,000 on granola bars, canned food, and diapers to put on display while they waited for donations to come in, according to one staffer. (The campaign confirmed that it “did donate supplies to the relief effort,” but would not specify how much it spent.)
Opinions differed on the event. The Wall Street Journal covered the same rally, but did not mention the alleged purchase and instead quoted Romney complimenting the “American spirit” of the attendees.
If true, the revelation would be another black eye for the Republican Presidential ticket and comes on the heel of another widely-panned faux photo op. in Mid-October, Ryan reportedly washed pots that had already been cleaned at a soup kitchen in Youngstown, Ohio. The Washington Post quoted the charity’s president as saying Ryan “did nothing” in the soup kitchen and had arrived well after the needy had been fed.
Ohio is a hotly-contested battleground state in this year’s presidential election. A CBS News/New York Times poll released on Halloween day showed incumbent Barack Obama with a 50-45 lead, while Romney was seen to be closing the gap in fellow swing states Virginia and Florida.
October 31, 2012 at 4:10 PM
Majority-minority districts are usually created with an eye to boosting the number of minorities in Congress. But in the Washington’s new majority-minority 9th District, that’s definitely not going to happen this election.
They split the city of Seattle between two districts in order to create the state’s first ever “majority-minority” district.
The 9th Congressional District was shifted northward, leaving behind the Fort Lewis area and rural Pierce County to take in both South Seattle and a growing population of immigrant and minority voters in South King County.
Now 51 percent of residents in the new 9th district identify as ethnic minorities.
But when those minority voters cast their ballots this week, they’ll be choosing between eight-term incumbent Adam Smith, a Democrat, and GOP challenger Jim Postma.
Both are white. Both are Christian. Both were born in the US.
October 27, 2012 at 9:00 AM
A Washington State hip-hop artist bucks stereotypes by making music in support of marriage equality and Referendum 74.
SEATTLE — Hip-hop is not generally considered a bastion of progressive virtue. Despite the boundaries and expansion spurred by the hip-hop movement over the past 30+ years, the general content is still enough to make the most foul-mouthed bigot blush.
The socially conscious rap groups who have achieved some level of national prominence can be counted on one hand: A Tribe Called Quest, Public Enemy, The Black Eyed Peas (pre-Fergie), Lupe Fiasco — each person has their own personal list. Arguments can be made for other more mainstream rap acts—Jay-Z comes to mind—but the general trend towards sexism and homophobia persists, giving critics ample ammunition to disparage the entire art form.
Out of this background come Macklemore and Ryan Lewis.
While the Referendum 74 battle over marriage equality rages in Washington State, this MC-Producer duo created an unlikely anthem for the pro-74 crowd. “Same Love” meditates on hip-hop’s attitude toward homosexuality, while also making some strong statements about the issue. Macklemore’s lyrics speak from his own experiences with a gay uncle and his own early considerations of his own sexuality, while Mary Lambert’s soaring chorus grants significant pathos to the message.
Macklemore, aka Seattle’s Ben Haggerty, has been outspoken in his support of the R-74 bill.
“My hope is that my personal testimony can help in some way to not only advance the dialogue and approve Referendum 74, but also to help shape a culture of belonging in which all people are equal,” Macklemore wrote on his website when the song was released.
The song has already made the rounds nationally. The Huffington Post toasted the feature-quality music video on its site, as has MTV’s Buzzworthy blog. Apple’s iTunes audience has shown love to the entire album making it the most downloaded album in its first week of release, helping the Seattle duo to debut #2 on the Billboard 200—no small feat for an independent act of any genre.
Watch the music video here:
October 26, 2012 at 3:40 PM
Washington Initiative 502 has supporters and opponents. University of Washington Election Eye researched each and brings you both sides of the debate.
SEATTLE — If you want to know where your chicken fillet comes from, you definitely want to know where your marijuana comes from. Chances are, your dinner wasn’t smuggled under the US-Canada border by a violent narcotics gang.
That’s one of the arguments for the passage of Initiative 502. Supporters of I-502 want to allow consumers the choice of knowing where their weed comes from—giving the public peace of mind that their dollars aren’t indirectly supporting society’s seedier elements.
“It’s just common sense,” travel guru and I-502 backer Rick Steves said in a telephone interview. “Whatever you’re consuming, you want to know where it’s coming from.”
Steves has been canvassing the state in support of the passage of I-502, which would legalize and regulate the sale of marijuana in the state of Washington. According to Steves, a key benefit of the proposed measure would be to limit the power of the narcotics gangs that have historically dominated the black market for marijuana. By allowing the taxed sale of marijuana, Washington State would achieve the dual benefit of filling state coffers while also limiting the influence of drug gangs.
Additionally, the legislation would allow state authorities to oversee the cultivation, harvest, transport, and sale of marijuana. Given the choice, Steves said, consumers will overwhelmingly purchase their drugs from reputable sources. Drawing a connection to Prohibition, where “we had people dying from poisoned gin,” Steves believes the passage of I-502 will help protect consumers.
“In the Netherlands, they haven’t arrested anyone for marijuana in 25 years,” Steves said. “You’d be crazy to buy something on the street. People go to a reputable coffee shop that’s been licensed by the government.”
“Now, we’re not going to have a coffee shop model [like the Netherlands]; we’re going to have a liquor store model,” Steves added. “Everything you’ll get will be licensed from Washington state growers. It’s smart from a consumer protection point of view. When there’s a black market criminal element, it makes sense to avoid that.”
Not everyone is so sure about I-502. On the other side of the debate is Derek Franklin, president of the Washington Association for Substance Abuse and Violence Prevention. Franklin, who boasts 20 years of experience in the substance abuse and mental health fields in various roles, believes it makes more sense to modify the existing frameworks for enforcement and prosecution.
Franklin concedes that the current system isn’t perfect, but such a drastic change isn’t in anyone’s best interests. Rather, Franklin believes that working inside the current system offers the best chances to limit access to marijuana.
“The current system is flawed,” Franklin wrote in a recent online chat with the Seattle Times. “However, legalizing an addictive substance is overkill. [We should] work to fix the enforcement system rather than legalizing across the board.”
Support of the bill varies widely, depending on location. A University of Washington poll cited by the Times has Eastern Washington voters against the measure by a 51 percent to 41 percent margin. Even in Yakima County, which struggles to contain outdoor grow operations, Sheriff Ken Irwin doesn’t see I-502 being beneficial. Irwin told Times reporter Jonathan Martin that the pro-502 crowd’s argument that legalization would hamstring the area’s narcotics gangs wasn’t a likely outcome.
“To think that by legalizing marijuana, the cartels would be out of business is just naive and absurd,” Irwin was quoted as saying. “Criminals are criminals. They would find a way to undercut the price.”
Steves disagrees with that point. He believes that consumers will eschew street transactions to buy their weed from state-sanctioned dispensaries.
“I just don’t agree with that,” Steves said. “It’s dangerous to sell drug so there has to be a pretty significant margin built in. I think that if people are given a choice, they’re going to buy from reputable source rather than a criminal source. Of course it’s going to be taxed, but I think when you take the criminal risk out, criminals can never compete on price.”
“It’s going to be a careful dance to figure out how much to tax it,” Steves concedes. “If it’s too cheap, then there’s a risk that it will be too easy for young people to get it. If it’s too expensive, then you’re opening up for the black market. There’s a sweet spot in the middle that we have to find.”
Whatever happens on election night, the legalization issue won’t end there. Many believe that I-502 would directly controvert elements of the federal Controlled Substances Act. Putting Washington State at odds with the Federal Government might lead to legal challenges – former US Attorney John McKay said in the same Seattle Times chat that the courts will eventually decide the issue.
October 24, 2012 at 6:55 AM
The presidential campaign is at its last sprint: two more weeks left to go. The debates are done, the race is nearly even, and the candidates are making their final push to get out the vote and to convince those last few “undecideds” to vote for them. What do the candidates want to tell the voters immediately after the last debate? Below are two very recent ads that both campaigns have released in swing states.
Barack Obama is hopeful and forward-looking: give me your vote and we will continue moving the country forward. He also wants us to look at his plan once more.
Mitt Romney is at first negative: “Most people believe we’re heading in the wrong direction.” He paints a dark image of the future — unless we choose him. Only he can “find a way”.
Romney: Find a Way
The challenge for Romney in convincing voters that we are headed in the wrong direction is that signs of recovery are showing up around us: our unemployed neighbor has found a job, for-sale signs are disappearing, and people are shopping again. Nationally, housing starts are gaining steam.
But Romney has closed the gap with Obama with the first presidential debate, and the growing recovery might come just a bit too late for the president.
October 22, 2012 at 11:00 AM
Newspaper political endorsements are made by the editorial board, not anyone in the newsroom, in order to maintain the integrity of the reporting process. But what happens to newspaper credibility if the company itself takes out an ad for a candidate or initiative?
It happened Wednesday, and only in the printed version of The Seattle Times. But the controversy and conversation have played out on Facebook, Twitter and blogs — both mainstream media and organizational.
“It” was an unprecedented act.
The Seattle Times Co. placed a full-page ad on page B6 asking voters to support Republican gubernatorial candidate Rob McKenna. It’s an independent expenditure (meaning not coordinated with the campaign) valued at almost $80,000.
And the ad donation makes the Seattle Times the third largest independent contributor to the McKenna campaign, after Our Washington and Stand for the Children WA PAC.
In defending its actions, the company set up a new Twitter account, @SeattleTimesCo:
We hear the concern out there & really appreciate what you have to say. More information on the rationale seattletimescompany.com/communication/…
— Seattle Times Co. (@SeattleTimesCo) October 18, 2012
There has been exactly one tweet, and no response to the three readers who replied.