There are some really good reasons for people to stay out of active political endorsements until after the primary season is over. By getting in early when the field is much less stable you run the risk that your candidate lays an egg, embarrassing you and demonstrating impotence of the highest order. Most political guys are terrified of the potential to be embarrassed if a few thousand radicals go against the establishment and muck up the process with independent opinions.
In this particular case many of my advisers warned that Sonics fans could not handle the disappointment if we wound up on the wrong side of a vote yet again. I started out pretty determined to stay that course, donating to all three candidates who supported the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) (Burgess, Harrell and McGinn) while at the same time making sure that my friends in Ed Murray's campaign knew that we were open to Ed and not going to be a major thorn in his side.
It was at this point that I took a better look at the situation and realized that sucking up to the system was unlikely to get us anywhere. I am one of the few thousand radicals. Me and my people are rooting for the disruption of the system and there is nothing at all we can do to change that in a way that will make us a part of it. I looked at the field and realized that Mike McGinn is the only candidate who takes guys like us seriously. Other candidates would do the normal swap of services. An endorsement would earn you a guarantee of 3 meetings in the first year. In those meetings they would nod and smile but ultimately they would take those same meetings with the other guys and would always be weighing the numbers and political consequences more heavily than any superficial relationships crafted by campaign politeness. Politics.
When I started to get more involved with Mike and saw the people who supported him, I realized that his campaign was something different. He does not have the establishment in his corner. Rather he has a group of people, who like me, are really tired of being told they are unimportant. These are the people McGinn holds close. He listens to us and he makes us feel empowered while Ed Murray reaches out to longtime political fixtures like Tim Cies and Christian Sinderman. Ed can have those guys. I get that he will always put them above me and it is not worth my time to try to push them out of a system in which they are completely and totally entrenched.
Most pundits predict Ed Murray is going to win this thing and they may be right. If they do we wind up on the wrong side of the fight but what do we really give up? Would those 3 meetings really make an impact on this city? Is there any way that an Ed Murray administration will look beyond the Green and Gold T-Shirts and think that we may have more to offer than cheers at a game? Not a chance. I'd rather fight for a guy who is proud of our involvement and offers the chance of a real voice in the city than play it safe with someone who would include our names on some lists, but carefully consider each time whether we are too much of a "fringe element" for him to be associates with. I want to be taken seriously, not just on the arena issue but on other things that matter to me as a 40 year old "regular guy" in this city.
Win or lose I want to send a message to the establishment that they need to consider people like me or they will pay a price going forward. Some would say that it is too big of a risk to try to send that message right now. We are too weakened by the Kings loss and risk blowing apart everything we gained if our base cannot withstand yet another "loss." Those guys don't get it. We are not coming off a loss. While I feel for Hansen and his failure to acquire the Kings, that was his part of the deal. Our part was to ensure that the local government seriously weighed the will of the people when considering approval of the arena MOU. We are coming off a huge win. In October we completely rewrote the rule book and were taken seriously in a way that few ever predicted. We took on the Mariners and the Port of Seattle and won handily. I made the controversial decision to be loud early because I am not willing to give that back. I'm sick of being irrelevant and going to insist on relevance right now. Please help. Be loud and active. Vote!
I am not the only one who feels like this. The Stranger rolled out their endorsement list yesterday, and at the top of that list is none other than Mike McGinn for mayor. They've put together a pretty solid list of reasons above and beyond what I've mentioned as to why to vote for McGinn.
And today, Jerry Brewer of the Seattle times weighs in and takes note of just how active Sonics fans have been politically and the impact that is having on the political landscape in Seattle. From the article:
The core of this fan base hasn't succumbed to disappointment and frustration. Instead, resilient as ever, Sonics fans have remained committed to investor Chris Hansen's plan to build a new arena and bring back the Sonics.
And now that there's a lull in that quest, some fans have taken on a new project: Ensuring the maintenance of Hansen's Sodo arena plan by supporting Mayor Mike McGinn's bid for re-election.
Rather than feeling trampled, Sonics fans feel empowered now. Their voices were heard during the contentious arena debate last year. The result was an agreement, pending environmental review and the acquisition of the NBA team, by the city and county councils to chip in $200 million toward the building of a $490 million sports and entertainment facility. The memorandum of understanding for that plan will last five years as long as no one tinkers with it.
In this mayoral election, some influential Sonics fans want to make sure McGinn, the most consistent and vocal arena supporter, gets re-elected.
"It's hard not to stick by a guy who stuck to his word after having to deal with all those who lied to and betrayed us when the team left five years ago," said Jason Reid, director of the movie "Sonicsgate."
Mail in your ballot if you live in Seattle. Call a handful of friends if you don't. There's still time to contribute financially or with your time to a campaign as well. Let's make sure our voices are heard!