Seattle's debacle demonstrates the left’s use of the emotional to advance the irrational. The self-declared autonomous zone in the city is not an aberration but, instead, a logical extension of the left’s illogic in which intent defines everything and outcomes mean nothing.
In the 1993 romantic comedy movie, “Sleepless in Seattle,” children interpose themselves between the adults to create a happy ending. In 2020’s remake, Seattle’s supposedly governing adults have relinquished control to the children again, only this time it is not delivering a happy ending. Call it “Clueless in Seattle.”
On June 8, protesters seized control of a Seattle police precinct and established a self-declared “autonomous zone” in which police are personae non gratae. The mayor withdrew police from the area, initially dubbed the “Capitol Hill Autonomous Zone,” or “CHAZ.” She has pronounced the instigators’ action “patriotism” and suggested that police could remain out during a “summer of love.” Facing no resistance and no control, unsurprisingly there have been reports of potential extortion of CHAZ residents. Seattle’s police chief has stated that wait times for assistance have tripled (though emergency calls have fallen since the beginning of June) while residents claim they have sometimes gone unanswered.
Seattle is no aberration. The descent of cities like it under liberal leadership has occurred for some time now.
Pull any thread, and you can follow the left’s unravelling from emotional to irrational.
Start with its call for open borders. Everyone wants to aid those in need, and everyone wants to welcome strangers. Yet, rather than construct a logical response to admit immigrants under a legal immigration system (which America has), some on the left have lurched to the illogical response that there should be no border at all. The left’s illogical next step has been to declare many of the urban areas they control to be "sanctuary cities" and to inhibit enforcement of the national immigration laws they have not been able to change. (Of course, they did this in Seattle.)
That was followed by calls from the left to abolish the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) agency. Without ICE, every city becomes a sanctuary city and there is no border, there are no illegals.
ICE, of course, was just the tip of the iceberg for the left. If you are going to abolish one branch of enforcement inhibiting your agenda, why not all? From this illogic arose the latest cry — to “defund the police.” Again, the left’s illogic is clear: Without the power to change things through the electoral process, simply nullify it.
Nothing could be a greater act of nullification than to seize the police apparatus itself. So, Seattle’s left took that city’s East Precinct and expelled police officers. Thus was born CHAZ (which, in its short existence, has now become CHOP — Capitol Hill Occupied Protest). Of course, the logical result of these illogical actions is lawlessness.
To understand how the left could let things get so seriously and obviously out of control, you must understand its cult-like devotion to intent. To the left, intent is meaningful; outcome is meaningless. For the left, action is defined by its motivation, not by its culmination. CHAZ/CHOP is, therefore, good because of its left-leaning motivation, regardless of its resulting anarchy.
To the left, leftist intent can never deliver a bad outcome. When it appears objectively bad to the rest of society, the left will forgive it, excuse it, subsidize it, or ignore it. However, the left will never admit it — because it refuses to see it.
That is why the universal failures of communism and socialism abroad are rarely condemned by many on America’s left; it also is why conservative successes can never be applauded. The intent of the former was deemed acceptable, so the outcome — regardless of failures — must be too; the intent of the latter was unacceptable, so the outcome — regardless of successes — must be too.
Seattle is the culmination of the left’s theory and malpractice. Its anarchy was preordained, but also pre-dismissed by the left. Yet, despite its subjective dismissal, its objective failure is valuable to America. Increasingly, it has been trendy and "open-minded" among some Americans to play philosophical footsie with socialism. Democratic presidential candidates have bandied “democratic socialism” about; virtually none have had the nerve to denounce it.
Seattle — and even more, CHAZ/CHOP, the microcosm of the macrocosm — are what the left’s desires hold in store for those misguided enough to fall under the left’s control. Rather than simply dismissing what they see there, Americans should look long and hard at Seattle: Far from being simply anarchy, it is the left’s agenda realized.
J.T. Young served under President George W. Bush as the director of communications in the Office of Management and Budget and as deputy assistant secretary in legislative affairs for tax and budget at the Treasury Department. He served as a congressional staffer from 1987 through 2000.