Senator Ranker says you’re with me or you’re wrong | Guest Column

by Gary Alexander

Lopez Island

In the three county newspapers I read each week, the incendiary words of state Senator Kevin Ranker earned Page 1 news coverage in all three, and a supporting editorial in the March 1 edition of The Sounder. I eagerly awaited a rebuttal in the March 8 edition (either from letters or guest columns) and saw nothing, so I will venture a rebuttal.

First, review this array of Ranker’s quotes and wonder if he is both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: (1) “kindness, respect and dignity – that is what matters.” Or: (2) “it’s black or white, you’re with me or you’re wrong.” Here’s another contrast: He told us Stella’s touching story and then quoted Stella saying (3) “be kind to yourself and others” (good advice). Then, he says (4) “we’re gonna show white male America what happens when women don’t show up.”

He didn’t say “we’re going to show America the value of women” but we’re showing “white males” how helpless they are. He didn’t say “you’re either for me or against me” but “you’re for me or WRONG.” He said Republicans are currently disenfranchising voters and unions, making protests illegal – although protests mount daily. Then he bemoaned “eight years of this hatred we’re seeing now,” referring presumably to right-wing haters, not the leftists.

Then, Ranker recommended Saul Alinsky’s playbook for negative politics, “Rules for Radicals.” Alinsky brings out the basest elements of human nature by attacking personalities, not principles. His 13 rules are mostly negative. The 13th rule is typical: “Pick the target, freeze it, personalize it, and polarize it…isolate the target from sympathy. Go after people and not institutions. People hurt faster than institutions.” Following this rule, every person in politics is relentlessly attacked personally. Nobody lives a perfect life – we’re all fodder for a Googling war on our reputation.

Is this the nation you want? Should we attack every person who, for whatever reason, wants to serve the public? A better way is to act locally to make life better. Treat everyone kindly, as Stella counseled. This happens locally. Kindness can’t be legislated in some domed building or white mansion 3,000 miles away. It happens from our heart.

This brings me to the Sounder’s editorial, “Why states matter.” Of course, they matter, but we’ve heard a relentless attack on “state’s rights” (the 10th amendment) because of its tainted history in the Civil War 150 years ago. That terrible time should not scar the validity of the Constitutional separation of powers. If you truly believe that states matter, let us compete with the other 49 states to offer a better life for all people, creating a magnet for more good people to move here. Let others wallow in their prejudices, if they choose. Our state’s recent actions show that we don’t need to cede imperial powers to Washington. This is true no matter who is in power now or in the future. My final question: Were you so keen on state’s rights during the eight years that Obama ran the country? Probably not.