SEATTLE, July 2018 —When Washington GOP Chairman Susan Hutchison called for civil disobedience against Seattle’s new city income tax on the wealthy in July 2017, I laughed. And laughed. About 10 hours later, when the uncontrollable chuckles subsided, I got to thinking about why it was so funny.
Was it the idea of the city’s millionaires putting their bodies on the line and risking arrest to fight against a tax that amounts to less than they spend on coconut water and Brie in a fiscal quarter? Or was it the fact that a woman who loudly defended Trump’s proclivity for sexual assault was threatening to use the tactics of the civil rights movement to advance the cause of the rich—whose interests, after all, are the ones best protected by the cops with their flashbangs and tear gas? Or perhaps it was because Hutchison is a salaried employee of the state Republican Party, thus making her an example of the “paid protesters” her side decries at every mass mobilization against the president?
Whatever it was, it cracked me up. But now, a year later, I’ve seen that the threat of direct action against the oppressive 2.5% tax on millionaires was not an empty one. Let’s take look back at the effective protest tactics used by Hutchison and her allies.
Dumping Franzia into Lake Union
The GOP freedom fighters kicked off their campaign against the horrors of progressive taxation with a symbolic bit of political theatre harkening back to the founding of this nation—but with a difference. On a private dock overlooking the frigid waters of Lake Union, Susan and her fellow travelers poured box after box of Franzia into the lake. Besides the obvious parallels between this uprising and the Boston Tea Party, there were other emblematic nods to local politics. The wine, Sunset Blush Rosé, symbolized the sunset of freedom in Seattle for those unfortunate enough to make more than a quarter-million a year. It was dumped from a yacht slip in a marina that once sued the City of Seattle to block the construction of a bicycle track, a potent symbol of the struggle of the few against the many. Finally, the Franzia was poured directly into the waters of Lake Union, potentially poisoning fish and other wildlife in the same way that the new tax threatens to “poison” relations between little fish and big.
MAC counter sit-in
Emboldened by the positive coverage of their Franzia protest in SuperYacht Quarterly, Hutchison and her comrades pressed onward. This time they drew a parallel between their unequal treatment and the civil rights lunch counter sit-ins of the 1960s. Hutchison and her crew of “ladies who lunch” camped out at the MAC counter in the downtown Nordstrom, effectively blocking consumers from receiving the complimentary makeover-with-purchase to which each American shopper is entitled. Stalwart and steadfast, these proud Republican women held their ground throughout the midafternoon rush despite several instances of blatant side-eye by the makeup artists. And they did it without even once asking to speak to the manager.
GOP boycott of elected office in Seattle
The masterstroke of resistance by Hutchison’s crew underlined the outrageous fact that the millionaire tax was passed unanimously by a City Council overrun with socialists. Rather than play footsy with Trotskyist dupes hell-bent on waging class warfare, the Republicans vowed to boycott all elected office in Seattle until the shackles of tyranny are removed from the city’s most productive members and they are allowed to resume their roles as benevolent stewards of civic life. And they have held true to their word; as of this writing no Republican has run for office in Seattle, and they show no signs of easing up on their embargo.
Currently, Hutchison is busy organizing her next act of civil disobedience: a simultaneous yacht blockade of every drawbridge in the city.
Photo by Don Ramey Logan