Opinion

Vote Inslee for 1st District

Extraordinary times call for extraordinary wisdom and courage.

Both were evident in Rep. Jay Inslee’s recent vote against giving President Bush the authority to use unilateral military force against Iraq. It was the kind of stand that can define – or jeopardize – a congressional career, particularly on the eve of an election. But Inslee stood by his principles, and voters should reward him with another term representing the 1st District.

When Inslee took office four years ago, the horseshoe-shaped area encompassing parts of Kitsap and north Seattle was volatile political terrain – a “swing” district that attracted big money from both parties, and ongoing scrutiny in national news columns. It’s a good measure of the congressman’s service and esteem that the district is now considered “safe,” with constituents satisfied and partisan attention focused elsewhere.

Regionally, Inslee has worked to protect old-growth forests, first by trying to enact a ban on new road-building into law, and more recently in trying to fight off the Bush administration’s efforts to weaken existing forest protections.

Closer to home, Inslee has been an effective player in efforts to save the Wyckoff property for public use, possibly under the National Park Service. He has taken up the cause of a Japanese-American internment memorial on the property, moving a bill through Congress to that end.

That thoughtful service would be sufficient to grant Inslee another term. But these are extraordinary times, and sadly, the challenges of the day have caused the nation to spend less time on domestic issues, more on those abroad.

Which brings us to Inslee’s vote on Iraq.

If that nation truly poses the kind of threat to international security our president claims, the appropriate response is an international one. Inslee wisely favors contributing to a multi-national effort to enforce United Nations disarmament directives, and voted for an amendment to that end. Unilateral action, as the congressman points out, would be turning our back on the whole concept of multi-national peacekeeping, which this nation has long championed.

His vote was courageous, because he bucked not only a

popular president but his own party, whose leaders sided with the administration in the name of national unity.

Unity has a place, and we all support our troops once they are in harm’s way. But whether to start a war, and why, are questions on which reasonable people can certainly disagree –- and if politics has any purpose at all, surely it is to fairly and vigorously debate issues of this magnitude.

It’s easy to be swept along by a tide of nationalism or vengeance. But Inslee stood for reason and calm in extraordinary times, and we’re proud to call him our man in D.C.

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