I have long understood that Washington Governor Christine Gregoire’s political appetites were ravenous and probably insatiable. And I have also long wondered how she was dealing emotionally with the glass ceiling she hit with both of Washington’s United States Senate seats occupied by Democrats, thus choking off her ascent to loftier offices. Well now I have my answer. She has decided to jump straight past the democratic process and assume the role of monarch or dictator.
It is standard procedure around the world for tin pot dictatorships to maintain a facade of republican government with a puppet legislative body. No Soviet dictator ever really thought that the Supreme Soviet would cast even one dissenting vote against his policies. North Korea’s Dear Leader, Kim Jong Il, never has to worry about dissenting votes from his Supreme People’s Assembly.
And while Governor Gregoire is not likely to send Washington’s legislature to a gulag or to the bottom of Puget Sound in cement overshoes, she shows it little more respect than any other dictator.
During this last legislative session, one of Governor Gregoire’s top legislative priorities was to impose cap and trade climate change legislation on the state. Squeamish Democrats, fearing the havoc such a scheme would inflict on the state’s already weak economy, wisely let the proposal die. Queen Christine wasn’t happy. So she imposed it by executive order. She even admitted that she was usurping the legislature’s constitutional role in the process. At the press conference where she announced her diktat Queen Christine proclaimed: “What we’ve done in the executive order is everything that was in that final bill—plus. Plus! There’s more in the executive order than what was in the final bill that did not pass the Legislature.”
Further she proclaimed that her diktat would, “protect our natural resources, while creating thousands of green-collar jobs and strengthening our state’s competitiveness in the global race for a clean energy economy.”
As for those “green collar jobs,” an investigation by the Sacramento Bee found that nearly all the jobs created by similar climate change legislation in California were state regulators sent out to harass businesses and citizens and choke off real economic growth.
What she presumed was a puppet legislature did not give her what she wanted. So she simply ordered it done, as any dictator would. The legislature should consider itself fortunate that she did not also order summary executions as well and have the uncooperative legislators’ heads mounted on pikes around her mansion as a reminder to others that there is a price to be paid for crossing the queen.
Not only did she impose her law by diktat, but she ordered the Department of Ecology to withhold money specifically appropriated by the legislature for other projects and redirect the spending toward her global warming agenda. The legislature appropriates money. Her job is to spend it as ordered by the legislature and to do so efficiently. She can’t capriciously rearrange appropriations to suit her mood.
One has to wonder what is going through her head. I’m not certain that King George was this crazy. Congressional Democrats, who have shown a tin ear on every other policy, were wise enough not to impose cap and trade nationally, knowing full well the economic horrors it would precipitate. Just a few hundred miles down I-5 from the queen’s realm, California has devastated its own economy with a similar law. It’s no wonder that the Washington legislature took into consideration what passing such a law would likely mean for their careers, their constituents’ prosperity or both. It wouldn’t take much more than the most common sense to reject this idea. And that’s what the legislature did.
It may be that her persistent 35% approval rating told her that her political life was in its death throes anyway and it was time to go all in. Who knows? But what she did is certainly illegal. We do have a constitution that defines and separates powers. If the governor’s office can simply overrule the other branches of government, then we truly do live under a dictatorship.
Thankfully, the Evergreen Freedom Foundation is suing the governor trying to reverse her power grab. The EFF General Counsel, Michael Reitz, remarked what should have been obvious: “We have democratic process for a reason. The people of this state expect their lawmakers and elected officials to follow the law just like anyone else. The governor shouldn’t bypass the Legislature, regardless of her objectives.”