At the Budget & Policy Center, we envision a multiracial, inclusive, and just democracy in this country. Democratic processes like free and fair elections, peaceful transitions of power, public participation, and a free press are critical for that vision to become a reality.
The right-wing extremism that culminated in the violent attempted coup on the U.S. Capitol last week is horrific and abhorrent, but is not new. It is deeply connected to this country’s long history of white supremacy, genocide, and subjugation of Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC). The people who have incited or committed acts of violence, including some currently serving lawmakers, must be held accountable.
We are also appalled by the threats of more violence at state capitols across the country in the coming days, including in Olympia, as well as in Washington, D.C. These threats are not only condemnable, but they serve to maintain the status quo by disrupting the work of Washington state policymakers and advocates to advance racial and economic justice this legislative session.
Lawmakers, community leaders, and advocates will nevertheless continue to do important work to advance budget and policy proposals that respond to pressing needs around the pandemic, the economic crisis, and racist policies that harm communities of color. It is good that the legislature has set up processes for public input during the remote legislative session that are largely working well. At the same time, it is imperative that people who have to be at the capitol in Olympia in person can also safely work without fear of violence or intimidation. That includes reporters who are there to fulfill their role of ensuring the government is accountable to the people.
Our democratic systems and institutions have for too long been used to confer power and resources to white people and disenfranchise, exclude, and extract wealth from BIPOC. At the Budget & Policy Center, we are committed to anti-racism and to doing the necessary work to dismantle and hold ourselves accountable for the entrenched white supremacy culture that exists in state advocacy, lobbying, and policymaking as well as in our organization.