26 October 2021

A Different Variety of Election Fraud

Why can't they both lose?

Here in Seattle right now, we're having one of the most unethical elections I've seen in the US in the past five decades (since I began paying attention). A week from today, we're going to elect a City Attorney — a position whose primary, and indeed sole, role is providing professional counsel and support to both elected (the Mayor, the City Council) and nonelected (the "bureaucrats") parts of the city government. (That's exactly what a blanket policy regarding misdemeanor prosecution is.) There is no excuse — none — for partisanizing/politicizing professional judgment of this nature, especially when one of the consequences of that partisanization/politicization is misrepresenting the nature of the job to the voting public.

Both candidates are due a single-finger gesture for their distortions and misrepresentations. Both candidates are due a simultaneous single-finger gesture from the other hand for putting their political ambitions ahead of their prospective professional judgment. The drafters of the various statutes and state constitution provisions that enabled the fundamental subversion of professional judgment inherent in direct election of positions whose role is professional judgment — not just city attorneys, but sheriffs, and public-health officers, and judges — deserve and get the same. The two campaigns, and their principals, have so thoroughly (if as of yet anticipatorily) breached Rules of Professional Conduct 1.11, 3.1, 3.4, 3.5, 4.1, 4.4, and especially 3.8 that if the profession were truly self-regulating, they'd both be preparing self-reports of misconduct under Rule 8.3. Umm, not so much.

Professional judgment is not and cannot be properly executed when beholden to direct election. A little over four decades ago, I got to see the results of that nonsense up close in St. Louis, observing school desegragation and busing issues that were ganz beschissen und wahnsinnig because the elected professionals, in those shortly-after-Watergate years when the canons of legal ethics were honored only in the breach, were fenced away from their professional responsibilities by those direct elections. More broadly, the violence associated with the civil-rights movement was perpetuated by elected judges, law-enforcement officials, educators, and even health officers — none of whom felt able to stand up against the tyranny of the majority (or, as is much more likely, the loud). Apparently, we haven't yet learned that military leadership isn't the only part of society for which "civilian and elected control of policy" doesn't require direct elections. Just what makes anyone think we're not in the midst of another civil-rights conflict now?

Despite my allegiance to the secret ballot, I'll be voting (by mail) like this, on the write-in line:


(because with my small handwriting I can fit that in). And the same for the judicial election on the other side of the ballot.

So, Ms Davison and Ms Thomas-Kennedy: Bite me. You're both making problems worse while further undermining public trust and confidence in a profession I adopted as less confrontational than my first one (and neither of you served in that first one, so you have no [string of foul expletives deleted] clue what I'm talking about and have expressed even less interest in any perspective informed by it). And your little campaign staffs, too. Just be glad I'm keeping this objection entirely separate from each of your equally disreputable policy statements!