Written by Doug Parris March 18, 2007
Jack Metcalf walked right out of the old West into Washington State Politics. Boots and all. His chiseled good looks could have filled the role of one of the guns on “Wagon Train” or a figure in a Clint Eastwood film. But Jack was no actor. He was the real deal. And he was a real conservative.
Hewn from the land in the far West
The Metcalf homestead was built from logs Jack and his father cut from trees felled on Metcalf land. After the army, but before he went to college, Jack was a U.S. Marshall in the Alaska territory twelve years before it became a state.
I remember the year I turned 20 Jack had billboards up in his race against Warren Magnusson for the US Senate. “Wrong again, Maggie!” they derided the old liberal. Had Jack been one of the ruling class Evans/Gorton/Pritchard/Munro boys his position would have been, “Of course you’re right, Warren, but we’ll do it more efficiently.”
He would have been a spectacular Senator and young enough to make a big difference for the State and Nation, but we had no political party set up to support conservative candidates. (Still don’t.)
His manner was the embodiment of the classic western hero. Jack was unhurried when he spoke and used an economy of language that spent little time “beating around the bush” but his words were quietly powerful. There was a real man behind them.
Jack even liked to play poker. For decades he distributed a beautifully concise hand-out that in clear, simple terms explained why the privately owned banking scheme falsely called the “Federal Reserve” is a moral disgrace and economically destructive. It used the metaphor of a poker game.
Metcalf spent 20 years in the Washington State Senate from 2 rural western Washington legislative districts. From 1980 to 1992 it was the multi-county 10th that included the northwest corner of Snohomish County. The latter portion of that tenure overlapped the dominance of the Snohomish County Republican Party by Reagan conservatives among whom I labored. That’s when I got to know him.
Jack inquired to find if I was the son of the Doug Parris who had been President of the Edmonds Education Association. I was. He told me that he had great admiration for my father because he had been the only voice standing up against some (now forgotten) action the WEA was taking in the ‘60s and had the courage to stand up and speak against it, alone, and that his speech had turned around the thinking of the entire parliamentary body that afternoon. (Jack taught for 30 years.) His words were not only kind to my father (and, through him, to me), but extolled the kind of American Individualist spirit Jack admired and exemplified.
Metcalf was an icon of what America once was.
Like Ronald Reagan he lived most of a full lifetime before getting elected to a Federal office. He won the 2nd District Congressional Seat in 1994, signed the Contract with America and made a pledge to term-limit himself out after three terms, a pledge which, unlike George Nethercutt, he kept.
Why was he called Maverick?
He certainly had nothing in common with John McCain. McCain got the same nickname –“Maverick” – by straying left from the Republican Party to work on extreme liberal legislation with Democrats.
When Jack went to the state legislature the Republican Party was firmly in the hands of the Evans/Gorton left wing political faction, the founders of “Mainstream Republicans of Washington.” They were well to the left of the Democrats of the day. Jack was to the right of both groups. And he was immune to the corrosive “mainstream” in the U.S. Congress, when he got there, as well. The complete Republican, Jack was conservative on fiscal, social and foreign policy issues.
His commitment to the right to life won him the unqualified support of the strongest Pro-Life leaders in Washington.
He stood, consistently, against the expansion of Government Control through spending and tax increases.
He stood like a rock against appeasement of Communism. He was the only member of Congress from Washington State (that included Slade Gorton, Jennifer Dunn, George Nethercutt and Doc Hastings) to vote against “most favored Nation” status for Red China in 2000, God bless him.
When former GOP/Left Snohomish County Chair Paul Elvig was quoted as saying, about Metcalf, “…he could alienate everybody in one fell swoop,” it was because Jack Metcalf was a conservative in contrast to “everybody” in Elvig’s world. Elvig, under whose influence the Snohomish County GOP shrunk to half its former size, even tried to keep him from running for Congress.
It should not be forgotten that Jack also never quit standing up against the notorious Indian Fishing Preference “Boldt Decision” another of those unconscionable despotic crimes by Federal Judges. Jack, in his easy, engaging, cowboy manner would explain that it gave “rights” to Tribes that were never in any treaty, were blatantly unreasonable, unfair and environmentally destructive and that it did it on a purely racially discriminatory basis.
It was a battle that everyone had long since stopped fighting. But not Jack. Every thing he said about it was true.
And for Jack Metcalf that was enough.
Jack Metcalf passed into eternity on Thursday March 15, 2007.
He was an American hero.