The streets of Seattle are filled with drug needles, homeless tents, and violent political agitators. What used to be a city known for its Space Needle and Nirvana has now become one of a series of case studies for the consequences of leftist rule over America’s cities.
Jason Rantz, a Seattle-area radio host, has seen firsthand the horrific impact the radical left has had on his city.
“It looks like a hellscape at this point,” Rantz says. “You have tent cities everywhere. You have used needles on the ground. You have human waste on the ground … . The Pacific Northwest in general is known as being just beautiful. Really, supposedly, we respect nature. Not anymore, not with how bad it’s gotten. You’ve got graffiti all over the place, which just doesn’t feel good to live in that kind of area anymore.”
Rantz joins “The Daily Signal Podcast” to share his experiences of living in Seattle.
We also talk with Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, about his concerns about Congress’ select committee on the Jan. 6 riot and what it is doing. You can read a write-up of that conversation here.
We also cover these stories:
- Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy formally requests European Union membership for Ukraine.
- Former President Donald Trump answers the question of whether he would have behaved similarly to Zelenskyy were he in charge of Ukraine.
- President Joe Biden’s State of the Union address is set for Tuesday night.
You can listen to the podcast below or read a lightly edited transcript:
Doug Blair: My guest today is Jason Rantz, host of “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH in Seattle, Washington. He is also a contributor to The Daily Signal. Jason, welcome to the show.
Jason Rantz: Thank you for having me.
Blair: It is always a pleasure to have a fellow Pacific Northwesterner on the program. Great to talk about it. I wish we could talk about more positive things, but unfortunately, the West Coast has gotten a lot of negative press recently. I’m curious, is that deserved or is this just an optics problem?
Rantz: It’s more than deserved. I would argue it doesn’t get enough of the negative press that it actually deserves, because if you want to enact some kind of change, you actually have to pay attention to the problem.
And it kind of feels like, especially in the Pacific Northwest, you’re not really getting honest coverage about what’s happening on the ground. We’ll get it nationally on Fox. I’m on Fox talking about Pacific Northwest issues all the time. But beyond that, we kind of pretend that, “Oh no, it’s the Emerald City of Seattle. It’s the rose … .” Like, no, it’s not. You should actually go into downtown Portland, downtown Seattle, go into parts of Spokane, things are bad.
Blair: Right, right. Now, what does the city actually physically look like these days? For our listeners who maybe have never been to Seattle or Portland, what does it look like?
Rantz: Well, it looks like a hellscape at this point. I mean, let’s just be clear. You have tent cities everywhere. You have used needles on the ground. You have human waste on the ground. These are two areas—and the Pacific Northwest in general is known as being just beautiful.
Really, supposedly, we respect nature. Not anymore, not with how bad it’s gotten. You’ve got graffiti all over the place, which just doesn’t feel good to live in that kind of area anymore. And unfortunately, things seem to be getting worse before they’re getting better. There’s some hope, but we’ll see.
Blair: Yeah. Now, you mentioned that Seattle and Portland and the Pacific Northwest in general, it’s beautiful areas, the mountains and the trees. How did we get to this point? Where did we see this decline start?
Rantz: Well, I mean, it started decades ago. A lot of the problems are here because of the institutions that have been forever changed.
When we talk about nationally, part of the movement of some on the left is to dismantle systems of oppression and rebuild in their own image. Well, that’s been happening in Seattle and Portland for a long time now.
And now we’re seeing the results of those policy shifts, policies that say we’re not actually going to punish criminals. Instead, we’re going to put them in restorative justice programs forever and ever and ever, no matter if they continue to commit the same crimes, if not worse.
We’ve seen a defunding of police to the point where it now doesn’t really matter what you set the budget for, you don’t have enough cops in Seattle or in Portland to properly police. You’ve got socialist council members who … we’re not saying they’re a socialist when they’re really Democrats, but they don’t want to admit [it], they’re openly socialists. They’re not hiding any of these things. And as a result, we’ve seen just the downward shift of both of these cities.
Blair: Now, we’ve seen that in certain circumstances, it almost looks like the people in these cities are starting to get tired of this. In Seattle, there is a Republican, an openly Republican member of the—
Rantz: I like how you said “openly Republican.”
Blair: It’s something you’ve got to hide, but she was elected.
Rantz: She was.
Blair: What does that [imply]?
Rantz: So, Ann Davison, she is actually a former Democrat who switched over to the Republican Party because she was sick of how her own party was treating her for being more of a moderate Democrat.
So when we say “Republican,” she’s not a hardcore Republican, but she did run on the notion of, “Hey, I’m actually going to punish criminals who are not accepting our offers of help.” …
I don’t know many people even on the Republican side who are law-and-order folks, which I consider myself, but I don’t want to throw every single person in jail. I don’t want to do that. I would prefer them to get treatment, if that’s what they need, because that’s what’s fueling their criminal behavior. But if they’re going to say “no” and they’re going to continue to break the law, OK, yes, you need to go to jail. And Davison actually supports that.
The problem is she still runs an office that is basically staffed by the previous city attorney. It’s going to take a very long time for her to actually get her feet under her. I mean, she came into it with hundreds of very serious crimes that haven’t even been looked at. So she just implemented a new policy that basically says, “Within five days, we’re going to decide whether or not we’re going to charge,” which hopefully will get that backlog taken care of, and let’s just figure this out.
But at the same time, you’ve got this cultural shift on the streets. So if you don’t have a police force that’s staffed to actually go after the crime, that means you’ve got this culture of criminality where they feel like they’re not going to get caught, which is most likely true. It’s not going to change things very quickly. At the same time, now you have the Seattle City Council actively trying to make her job more difficult.
So, I’m more hopeful than not. Though again, keep something in mind, do you know who she was running against? She was running against Nicole Thomas-Kennedy, who literally ran on the platform of, “I am going to abolish my own department.”
It was a three-way race. The incumbent had run again. So it split the vote that allowed Ann Davison to get through. So there were a lot of Democrats very far to the left saying, “OK, I can’t go with Nicole Thomas-Kennedy. She’s just way too crazy for us.” So they ended up going with Ann Davison. That doesn’t indicate a shift politically in the city. I’ll take it. And hopefully, she’ll have some really good results and maybe change some minds.
Blair: Now, it does seem like the city government is actively engaged in making this problem worse. You appeared on “Tucker Carlson [Tonight]” recently to discuss a new bike helmet equity initiative, and that seems like it’s just not focusing—
Rantz: Oh, it’s insane.
Blair: … on the problems. It’s focusing on wokeism.
Rantz: It’s not. What’s so maddening about that—and it’s funny because Tucker and I have the same position on this. We both don’t really like the law, and I would’ve repealed it as well. I don’t like the reason behind it.
But to be clear, there weren’t really any tickets being given out. I think it was like 10 for all of 2020 bike helmet law. So they weren’t really even giving out any tickets, but they wanted to look at it through the [critical race theory] lens that they claimed disproportionality because there were too many black bicyclists as a proportion of the percentage that bicycle getting these tickets.
So to the left, they view that as proof that this is a racist law. No, that’s not what actually it says. Maybe it’s being put in place in a racist way. Maybe racist cops are giving out tickets to only black people. Maybe. You haven’t proven any of that. There’s no evidence that it’s happening.
It just so happens that there were more black bicyclists during this time period that weren’t wearing helmets. OK? That’s all it says.
Now, if you want to get rid of the law, get rid of the law. But by that logic, and I said this on Tucker’s show, I’m like, OK, well, gang membership in Washington state is overwhelmingly black and Latino. So if you are to apply the law against these folks, you’re going to have a disproportionate number of black and Latino individuals who are getting arrested. Are we supposed to get rid of that law? Oh, it just so happens they tried to get rid of any sort of criminal additions to gang members. It’s absolutely ludicrous.
Blair: So, for people who live in these cities who are maybe more, let’s say, reasonably-minded, that feel as if the government is focusing too much on these issues, that are completely outnumbered by progressives who view these as important topics to talk about, what is their recourse? What do they do?
Rantz: Well, what they have been doing is moving. They’ve been moving to Bellevue. They’ve been moving outside of the city. But they quickly realize that policies of Seattle have a tendency to spread. This isn’t Vegas. What happens in Seattle goes way outside of Seattle.
So generally speaking, when we’re talking about homelessness and crime, the reason why you’ve seen a little bit of course correction is because so many folks who live in Seattle have experienced it. They try to take their kids to the local park and they realize it’s completely overrun by homeless folks. There’s a dude there shooting up in the playground. That starts to change their behaviors and how they vote.
So there’s room for, not a Republican on the council, there is room for more moderate Democrats to move forward. Our new mayor ran on that campaign of, look, he’s very much a Democrat, he’s very much a progressive, but in the context of who he’s running against, he was seen as more moderate.
So you’re going to start to see, hopefully, over the long term, a little bit of inching toward … that moderate Democrat role. I’m not going to pretend that we’re going to get a bunch of Republicans on the council. You’re not in Seattle. That’s just not going to happen anytime soon at least.
Blair: Sure. One final question for you. In terms of the progress that we are seeing, is there progress being made? Are the drug problems going away a little bit? Is the homeless problem getting any better? Are we seeing progress?
Rantz: So, we’re not seeing progress yet, but we’re seeing the implementation of just small moves that will hopefully see a bigger shift.
Nationally, I think we are going to see some progress, because let’s be clear, part of the reason why we’re seeing this prediction of a red wave is because of all of these issues. So if Republicans, who hopefully we take control, if they stick to what they say they’re going to do, then we will start to see some shifts rather quickly nationally.
It’s the regional stuff that you’re probably not going to see that big of a shift. But look, you can’t be that much of an outlier as a major city, so you’re going to have to catch up a little bit because you don’t want to be known as that city. Not anymore.
Blair: Right, right. That was Jason Rantz, host of “The Jason Rantz Show” on KTTH in Seattle, Washington, and a contributor to The Daily Signal. Jason, appreciate your time.
Rantz: Thanks for having me.
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