So Who is the Clark County Establishment?

In promoting wise and ethical local government, the citizen writers at regularly refer to the local political establishment. This term isn’t a compliment, as it implies a self-interested group whose priority is maintaining power for themselves and special-interest friends.

About 25 years ago a noticeable trend began across the United States, where liberal activists found that winning local city, county, and school board positions was an effective way to push their various ‘government knows best’ agendas. Most of these activists liked larger government and regulation. Many were also political, whose values are fluid, which means power for them and their friends was a priority over ideology. These ‘political’ people are politicians, senior bureaucrats, and handlers who operate in a corrupt culture of special interest favors. All of this grew government and related corruption and incompetence at all levels.

Clark County was not spared from this national trend. The depths of our local establishment’s corruption and incompetence was not fully understood until the Columbia River Bridge and light rail project (CRC) demonstrated the lengths they would pursue toward their agenda. This battle got most local ‘small/responsible’ government activists to their feet in 2013.

This Clark County establishment has been destabilized in the last few years. The key players have had to work much harder to pull off their self-interested and ideological mischief, and others are deterred from participating as they may have in past years. Most recently the three Clark County councilors, Boldt, Olson, and Stewart, aggressively pushing a big-spending and establishment-empowering agenda, are encountering serious resistance. And they are likely aware it’s only going to get worse. We’ve had multiple reports that they and their County bureaucrat handlers, are ‘not having fun,’ as their incompetence and corruption is highlighted to tens of thousands of local citizens.

The Clark County political establishment is made up of:

  • Local politicians – about 90% of them: It’s understandable that politicians need to respect and work with other politicians and community leaders. However, when these leaders and the general culture of the local establishment becomes intolerable—wise and resolute politicians should push back. Many local politicians lack the resolve to resist, and about half of them are willfully complicit with the establishment priorities of self-interest. This includes all Clark County mayors.
  • Business advocacy groups: This includes the Vancouver Chamber of Commerce, Downtown Association, Identity Clark County (ICC), Columbia River Economic Development Council (CREDC), Vancouver Business Journal, and other organizations to a lesser degree. They are all aligned with the establishment, which is typical. However, none of these groups shown the slightest ability for independent thought during the CRC take-down. As the evidence mounted about the special interest corruption and hardline transportation ideology baked into that project, these business advocacy organizations failed to correct. These organizations perpetuated the propaganda that enables such breathtaking groupthink.
  • Special interest handlers: There’s a small group of business people and other self-styled political players (less than 25) routinely involved with establishment political matters. Mostly in the smoke-filled rooms in which the grand schemes are hatched for their narrow self-interests and for their special interest friends.
  • Local Old Media: The Columbian is sympathetic to the liberal big-government direction of county politics in the last 20 years. Its owners and senior staff are, to some noticeable degree, interested in being seen and influential in the establishment social scene. Based on this, they’ve supported the establishment and have been nasty and shrill against anyone who suggests we have a problem.
  • Business people: Many business sell goods and services locally. These businesses are correctly concerned about being seen challenging the wishes of the establishment. During the take-down of the CRC boondoggle it was all too common to have local business people say, “We have to stop this mess,” but when asked to help, they’d respond with some form of, “I’d like to help, but I have to be concerned about my business.” This fear is based on years of the establishment’s actions against dissenters.
  • Social club: A few hundred people gain their social status by hanging out with the establishment. These folks have a lot of fun, considering the endless social media photos of all their events. These people value this social club standing and will usually protect challenges to the establishment, despite well-grounded issues of challengers. Some are such shallow thinkers, they cannot even understand there is a problem. Their existence is partly explained in our Groupthink article.

Clark County establishment’s response to citizens demanding responsible government: The writers at all directly saw the battle of the last four years, as ‘responsible government’ citizens stood up and started the long-term process to reverse the self-serving corruption and incompetence of the local political establishment. As noted earlier, the catalyst for many ‘responsible government’ activists was the wildly corrupt and incompetent Columbia River bridge project (CRC), finally killed in 2013. The establishment’s response was to protect its interests, defame the dissenters, and double down on the corruption and incompetence. They showed next to no interest in respectfully addressing the earnest citizens standing up with clear and reasonable concerns. The establishment’s arrogance and self-interest deepened the divide and further exposed the depths of the deceit and the nature of the battle ahead. What establishments rarely understand is the resolve of those done with the corruption and incompetence. That’s happening now in Clark County, as the citizen resistance is becoming more organized and effective.

Columbian Editor Lou Brancaccio and Establishment Republican Brent Boger
Columbian Editor Lou Brancaccio and Establishment Republican Brent Boger

Republicans colluding with the liberal establishment: Of interest in the last year, is the alignment of moderate or opportunistic Republicans with the liberal ‘big-government’ Clark County establishment. The conservative reset of the local Republican Party is detailed in a prior article. Some Republicans did not like this reset because (1) as moderates they disagreed, (2) their prior Republican Party social club was disrupted, and (3) their individual political or business interests were somehow compromised by the conservative reset. This last group (#3) are self-centered opportunists, and they’re the ones to be especially detested by earnest and steady citizens who want government to be ethical and responsible. A recent event that demonstrates this collusion was the party thrown, by the liberal and very caustic editor of the Columbian Lou Brancaccio, for a selected group of properly vetted establishment insiders. The photo below shows some of the ‘properly vetted’ Republicans. We’ll have more stories on this unholy alliance and the faux-Republican candidates they’re fielding to run for various offices.

Local Republicans who are in overt collusion with Clark County liberal establishment to reclaim power for the establishment. Photo taken at at the home of liberal Columbian editor Lou Brancaccio.
Local Republicans who are in overt collusion with Clark County liberal establishment to reclaim power for the establishment. Photo taken at at the home of liberal Columbian editor Lou Brancaccio.

In future articles on the Clark County establishment we will expand on specific activities that demonstrate their intent and explain who is primarily behind the mischief. We’re contemplating a ‘Crony of the Week’ designation. We’ll see.