Our once quaint little fishing village, so used to being treated as America's "forgotten corner," has suddenly become the epicenter for defense of American freedom and democracy; the champion of an all-fronts war to pull this nation back from insanity, and forward into a better future.
It's not a role many (or any) of us asked for. But it's what we've got.
Recently, a federal appeals court unanimously sided with state Attorney General Bob Ferguson and refused to reinstate the Trump Administration’s immigration and travel ban against persons from seven Middle Eastern countries. The court defeat caused the White House to withdraw its initial executive order implementing the ban, while promising to issue a revised order (Which they’ve done, with Hawaii apparently leading the charge against it this time around).
Previously, Nordstrom stopped selling the Ivanka fashion line. Many other retail chains have done the same thing, based on lagging sales and the general fiscal sluggishness in the department store industry. But it was Nordy's that got called out with (probably illegal and unethical) public insults by White House officials.
In his State of the City address in February, Mayor Ed Murray declared Seattle to be a place of "unity and community" that will fight the "battle for the soul of America": "Where the president spreads darkness, Seattle will shine a light, and offer a different vision."
Murray also said we can't depend on federal funding these days for anything good.
“Developing a national housing and homelessness agenda is not a priority for the new president’s administration.… We had hoped for a vigorous partnership with the federal government, but we are on our own.”
Murray's new speechwriter, former PubliCola blogger Josh Feit, certainly knew Obama's oft-repeated remark about the "ownership society," a one-time big part of the GOP's "messaging." Obama said "ownership" really meant "you're on your own."
Which we are. And also aren't.
We can't expect anything from the feds (other than abuse and hate) for the next year or more.
But we've also got the other "blue" city and state governments, nonprofits, growing activist groups and, most importantly, one another.
Some of us are responding, like writer-monologuist David Schmader, by refusing to let go of their righteous anger. Schmader's written a "Salty Prayer" to withstand our times:
"Grant me the strength to withstand the daily tornados of dangerous Trump lunacy that come so fast they defy processing. Give me the strength to remain outraged without killing myself or anyone else.
"Beyond that, dear God, grant me patience, grant me patience, and f---ing hurry up about it."
But others, such as Paul Constant, are taking a higher road. Or at least they’re trying.
Constant (who runs the Seattle Review of Books website and works for Nick Hanauer's think tank Civic Ventures) encourages folks to take up the hashtag "#ProudPatriot":
"My patriotism isn’t blind, or forgiving. I know my country has committed, and continues to commit, harmful actions. I’ve protested unjust wars and raged against flagrant violations of the Constitution and witnessed the destruction caused by institutional bias.
"But I also see people every day working to fix our flawed system, and I truly believe that we are a more just nation now than we were fifty years ago, and that fifty years ago we were more just than fifty years before that, and so on.
"…Now it’s our job as patriots, as citizens who love the idea of America, to push the country forward into the 21st century."
Constant's inspired several other writers, including Hanna Brooks Olsen of the blog Seattlish, to write their own "#ProudPatriot" manifestos. As Olsen puts it:
"I am with this flawed, uneven, messy country because I believe that there is a foundation we can build on and because I believe that people are good and can do good.
"…Patriotism is, I think, a kind of optimism; it’s loving and supporting your country even when you know it’s flawed because you expect more. And it’s being willing to do what it takes to fix the problem not by going backward, but by going forward."
Hashtags, of course, are rarely trademarked and aren't exclusive.
In this case, "#ProudPatriot" has previously been used—by one or more people posting right-wing "memes" to social media sites.
But hashtags can also be taken over, if more people use them in their new context.
Just as Constant and Olsen want us to take over the concept of patriotism itself.
Full Disclosure: Feit, Schmader, and Constant all used to work for The Stranger, as did I.