Seattle’s liberal mayor, Ed Murray, is pushing a new soda tax—designed to target white people
and to fight “white privilege.”
Murray’s original soda tax would slap a two-cents-per-ounce tax on soda sweetened with sugar or corn syrup, using the funds to pay for schools in minority communities. Murray initially touted the plan, which is similar to those enacted in several other cities, as discouraging consumption of unhealthy drinks and combating diseases like diabetes and obesity.
But critics on the left quickly pointed out that low-income households—which are disproportionately minority—consume far more sugary soda, so this tax would fall mostly on their shoulders. They reasoned that health-conscience white people tend to stick to diet drinks.
In order to fight back “white privileged institutional racism,” Murray amended his plan to include all sweetened drinks—including white people-approved beverages, including diet soda, Red Bull, ice tea, and bottled coffee. Even though those drinks don’t contribute to diabetes or obesity.
Murray faces a rocky road to re-election later this year due to a child sex scandal: in the last month, three men have come forward to accuse Murray of sexually abusing them when they were teenagers.
As the deadline to file for the election quickly approaches, it’s clear he’s leaning heavily on identity politics in order to bolster his chances—even as many critics call for him to drop out.