Look out, world! Seattle has discovered boycotts

Why think narrowly when it comes to punishing states that fail to act according to Seattle's best, liberal judgment? Our boycott of Arizona could be the start of something big.
Crosscut archive image.

Texas state capitol: Don't mess with Seattle, Longhorns.

Why think narrowly when it comes to punishing states that fail to act according to Seattle's best, liberal judgment? Our boycott of Arizona could be the start of something big.

The city of Seattle's recent vote to boycott Arizona over its controversial immigration law has made national headlines. Some people say it is a way for Seattle to send a message to Arizona to change its unfair law. Others says it is improper for a Northwest city to get involved in another state's business.

Either way, the resolution has me thinking: if Seattle is to get involved in states' politics, the city should be consistent. Seattle is one of the most liberal cities in the country, so it is reasonable to assume that some of our country's more conservative states pass laws that we oppose. Shouldn't the city apply the same standards to all of them?

A good place to start is Texas. The state executed 24 people last year including a man with a "low IQ." The current governor, Rick Perry, has signed more than 200 death warrants. The state of Texas finally stopped executing minors who were convicted of serious crimes when the U.S. Supreme Court forced it to.

While Texas was issuing death warrants, Seattle's state representatives were sponsoring a law to abolish the death penalty in Washington. Four of the five sponsors of a Senate Bill 5476 to abolish the death penalty are from Seattle, as were almost half of the sponsors of a similar House bill. One could assume that the city;s residents wouldn't keep voting for so many representatives who are anti-death penalty if they didn't have reservations about capital punishment. Texas's easy-going death penalty process should cause concern — perhaps the city should consider a boycott of Texas.

Seattle is legendary for its support of recycling and composting. Despite Seattle's best efforts, we can't save the world alone. New York City residents send more than 1 million tons of organic waste to landfills every year. New York's best answer: start composting in your backyard. Any Seattle resident who has been to New York City would realize this isn't serious — most New Yorkers don't have backyards.

It is clear New York is mocking Seattle's effort to decrease our carbon footprint. Seattle should immediatley ban any future contracts with companies headquartered in any of the five boroughs.

It seems arbitrary to stop at boycotting other U.S. states and cities — Seattle should consider countries with objectionable policies. Israel seems to be an easy target. The Palestinian conflict inflames passions across the world. Locally, more than 10 percent of registered voters signed petitions to get I-97 on the ballot in 2008. The initiative, defeated by a court ruling, would have divested city pension funds from companies that sold to Israel. Couldn't the council ban contracts with businesses that do business with Israel? How about banning products invented in Israel?

However, before the Seattle City Council boycotts the world, maybe they should look closer to home. One Northwest state has a regressive tax system that penalizes poor and middle-class families with a sales tax that approaches 10 percent on most purchases. It is one of only seven states that have an oppressive tax regime which doesn't include an income tax.

Seattle residents overwhelmingly support an income tax, yet this Northwest state continues to unfairly penalize those who can least afford high taxes. The council should start working on boycotting the state of Washington immediately! The only question that remains is whether such a boycott would preclude the city from doing business with itself.


Please support independent local news for all.

We rely on donations from readers like you to sustain Crosscut's in-depth reporting on issues critical to the PNW.


About the Authors & Contributors