Reaching smalltown, rural Oregon

By Linda Evans of Prineville, Oregon. She describes herself as a "61 year old married woman, liberal, still hopeful about our country even after living thru the 1960's."

I'm a fairly silent 'liberal' in smalltown Oregon. Prineville to be more precise. I moved here 13 years ago because I like the people, the community, the rural lifestyle, and the lack of 'urban sophistication'. I think the latter means not the latest in clothes and trends and movies and other cool stuff. It means being able to wear jeans everywhere and still feel like you fit in.

Anyhow, I've been pretty discouraged as have we all at the national scene and the picture in Oregon's state house. And I've been attending party meetings in Oregon for at least the last year or so.

While it's nice to meet lots of passionate Democrats, it's been discouraging that there is so little substantitive talk about issues that will get votes here in Central Oregon. Take the Endangered Species Act, for instance. Our Congressional representative, Greg Walden, has been taking credit for the bill before Congress that would do a lot to undermine the existing ESA in the name of protecting property rights, ala Measure 37. Property rights ring a bell here, as they apparently do all over Oregon. But so do Endangered Species.

So where is the Democratic Party on this issue? What are the actual facts of the success or lack thereof of this act? How do we talk about this in ways that bring success both to the environment and to property owners? I just have to think about how a relative of mine gets annual payments from the U.S. government for NOT growing anything on her farm land. The idea of reimbursing people for curtailing their options with their property is not a new idea.

And where are the Democrats on the war in Iraq? People here in my community have sent sons and daughters over there to fight. This is a pretty patriotic place, yet the Bush administration is pretty nasty when it comes to supporting veterans and their families. And furthermore, how do we get out of Iraq after going in there and destroying what little there was of infrastructure? I think a good discussion of this topic is one we Democrats should be embracing, not running away from in case it looks like we aren't tough enough to defend the country.

Well, I went to the summit in Sunriver, and I came away kind of depressed. We spent a lot of time bemoaning how awful things are in Republican hands, but we didn't do too much when it comes to building a focus on a positive set of alternatives. Maybe the fact is it's my responsibility to form the positions that will strike a chord with people here in Central Oregon while at the same time foment Democratic values. That's a scary idea!

Comments

  • (Show?)

    Maybe the fact is it's my responsibility to form the positions that will strike a chord with people here in Central Oregon while at the same time foment Democratic values. That's a scary idea!

    Please do, and remember that all of the alleged pros put their pants on one leg at a time. Also, our own Steve Bucknum who is also from Prineville, has offered some thought provoking insights from the wilds of Central Oregon. Your voice and thoughts are more than welcome.

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    The nice thing about the Democratic Party of Oregon is that leadership can only protect itself from the new or contrarian activists through coopting them. Those that keep a clear head and focus on good strategy and policy are being heard. Change is slow, but inevitable.

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    I urge you to consider attending the Dem Party Rural Caucus retreat in Silver Falls on November fifth and sixth. Steve can set you up, I'm sure.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Linda, Your observations are interesting. I posted this comment on a different post, but it is more appropriate to your post. I am a Republican, but I don't particularly care for George Bush. But I have wondered how lopsided the election would have been if the Republicans would have fielded a strong candidate? Yet, he won with a larger margin than in 2000. To your comment, my perception is that the Democratic Party is the weakest it has been in my lifetime. Why? I think you pinpointed the problem, it is lack of solutions.

    I had a few random thoughts as I read your statement, which may or may not be reality (mostly perceptions), but worth mentioning.

    1) The Democratic Party is perceived as being anti-religion in a fairly religious country.

    2) The Democratic Party is perceived as anti-business in a capitalistic society.

    3) The Democratic Party is perceived to be very pro-union, while unions are at their lowest influence (less than 13%) in the last 50 years.

    4) The Democratic Party is perceived to be pro gay marriage/relationships, while the majority of the country at this time is not in favor.

    5) The Democratic Party is solidly behind mass transit to the extent of demonizing the private vehicle (especially SUVs).

    6) The Democratic Party is perceived to be a party without solutions, only complaints e.g. Social Security.

    7) The Democratic Party is quick to pick out their villains e.g. Newt, Rush, Pat Robertson, George Bush, Rove, WalMart, corporations, "Big oil" etc. and then hammer on them to no avail. But in the process look like losers.

    8) The Democratic Party has cloaked itself in the look of immorality by aligning with artistic endeavors not accepted by the majority of Americans.

    9) The Democratic Party is associated with the negative aspects of the welfare system.

    10) The Democratic Party is solidly against the Bush handling of the Iraq and Afghanistan War effort. But, the Democrat solutions are all over the board, from sending more troops, to "bringing the soldiers home immediately".

    I'm not saying that I agree with what is listed above, but these are contributory factors in the weak Democratic Party. I can't remember the numbers exactly, but something like 33 governors, 34 state legislatures as well as the President and U.S. Congress, are Republican. I don't think the Republicans are doing anything extraordinarily great, it just seems like the Democrat strategy of solutions is lacking, as well as the things they have hitched a ride.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Good post Linda! I think its great that Blue Oregon hears from another Central Oregonian!

    Pat - Linda is signed up for the Rural Caucus Retreat!

    Bailie - your "Ten Perceptions" are for the most part correct in the rural parts of Oregon. Most of it happens to be not true, but that is what is perceived.

    We have been on a course this last year to correct these perceptions in rural Oregon. It will take time, but the process is already moving forward. The Rural Caucus has been formed. The Oregon Democratic Platform that will be finished next spring will add new levels of sensitivity and support for rural Oregon. The Oregon House Democrats are talking about a trip through Central/Eastern Oregon. The Second Congressional District Committee has moved to being the strongest CD in the State Democratic Party. We are articulating positions, developing strategies, and adding supporters at each turn. In July the Party passed its resolution to show its support for the Second Amendment and the right to have firearms.

    It will take years to challenge the falsely held perceptions that the Republican propaganda machine has cranked out for the last 25 years, but we are well started down that path.

  • LT (unverified)
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    Perceptions are one thing, reality is another. Not much Oregonians can do about other states, but we can do something about Oregon politics.

    Just to address one of them: 5) The Democratic Party is solidly behind mass transit to the extent of demonizing the private vehicle (especially SUVs).

    Are you saying if there is a married couple in the Portland area which contemplates going from 2 cars to one car since one of them rides MAX to work that they are Democrats? Isn't that overgeneralizing? How much of this is indiv. consumer decision rather than partisan?

    A Republican who retired from the state legislature before the 2004 elections after many years named Randy Miller wanted to increase the speed limit and wanted to end the ban on self-serve gas in Oregon. Did that lead to a perception that "Republicans want self serve gas and high speed limits" just because Randy Miller had once been GOP state chair? Or do some/many voters ignore such debates or see through that kind of spin?

    Many who opposed that second idea were women in both parties, esp. those who had driven in other states and not only thought it wouldn't do anything to the price but didn't like the experience of pumping their own gas--what if it got on their clothes or shoes? And what if they had kids in the car and had to go inside to pay?

    Boy, those anti-self serve gas people really got angry at the mention of that, or at a comment an out of state relative made at a family event "I am wearing good clothes and I forgot to buy gas" only to be informed in Oregon many stations allow people to pay for gas without even getting out of their cars. That is a consumer decision, not partisan.

    $3 gas is an economic reality in many parts of the country, although luckily we get it in Oregon for less in some areas. If someone decides to trade in the SUV for something with better gas mileage, are they partisan Democrats or someone making an economic calculation?

    My impression is that the general public (even the ones not registered NAV) are less partisan than people who would come up with a list like the one above. And where do you put someone who voted for Bush but against Measure 36?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Steve, Thank you for your comments. But then you suggest, "It will take years to challenge the falsely held perceptions that the Republican propaganda machine has cranked out for the last 25 years, but we are well started down that path.

    This is the root of the problem, I believe. All of the "perceptions" I listed (and I am sure there are more) cannot be attributed to the "Republican propaganda machine" as you suggest. I think you are giving too much credit to "the machine". Do you think that any of the situations listed were developed/promoted from within the Democratic Party?

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    LT, I am in mixed political groups on many occasions. These perceptions are not unrealistic. Conversations/discussions often go to one side or the other of these perceptions and often can decide a political position. I am not defending one side or the other. What seems to be the dominate perception is the lack of understanding the Democrat position on many points of interest. What I have alluded to is that many of the points of interest that the Democratic Party have hitched a ride with, are not popular positions. So the choice which is occurring at this time is, how to change these positions without giving up on the ideology. It is an interesting process as Steve describes of showing support for the Second Amendment, but at the same time leaning heavily toward gun control. As a side note, I agree completely with the Democrat position on gun control.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I guess I argue with "understanding the Democratic position" because I was an active Democrat for so many years and gatherings could often be described by that wonderful phrase "with 5 people in the room there are 4 factions and a moderator".

    In any group there are likely to be a variety of opinions. All I am saying is that knowing someone who voted for Bush and against Measure 36 and someone else who thinks abortion and gay marriage shouldn't be discussed until the Oregon economy gets turned around, I just think "there is a perception out there" about Democratic attitudes on gay rights (is David Brooks a Democrat because he supports gay marriage as do many people his age and younger?) is pretty vague and most likely applies to some conversations but by no means all conversations.

    There is also a perception that politicians are out of touch with ordinary voters who don't talk politics except in even numbered years a couple months before an election. Out in the real world there are conversations about what family and friends are doing, job situations, shopping, sports, etc.

    As I was saying to family members when we were at the Valley River shopping mall last weekend, maybe the answer to getting some reality in politics is to do a swap--exchange a certain number of mall store employees and shoppers for a certain number of people who work in the capitol as elected officials or staff and see if the viewpoint changes. Choose any mall outside the Portland area (major shopping mall like Valley River or an outlet mall like the ones in Woodburn, over at the coast, outside Medford, etc.).

  • Eric Berg (unverified)
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    "What's the Matter with Kansas?" could also be "What's the Matter with Crook County?"

    The near-demise of the forest products industry in Central Oregon, along with all the conventional wisdom of the country's urban-rural and cultural divisions offer answers. But Prineville is unique in that until very recently it was, politically speaking, the center of the United States. In 1992, it lost its status as the last "bellwether county" in the country. And Bush the Elder defeated Bill Clinton by less than three percentage points that year. Just eight years later, Bush the Younger got 36 percent more votes than Al Gore.

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    Here's a "to-do list" from an article from The Nation by Borosage that looks like a pretty good platform to me, at least on the national level........

    Crack Down on Corruption: In contrast to conservative cronyism, shut the revolving door between corporate lobbies and high office. Prohibit legislators, their senior aides and executive branch political appointees from lobbying for two years after leaving office. Require detailed public reporting of all contacts between lobbyists and legislators. Pledge to apply this to all, regardless of party. Take the big money out of politics by pushing for clean elections legislation.

    Make America Safe: Commit to an independent investigation of the Department of Homeland Security's failures in response to Katrina. Detail action on the urgent needs that this Administration has ignored: Improve port security, bolster first responders and public health capacity, and require adequate defense planning by high-risk chemical plants. End the pork-barrel squandering of security funds.

    Unleash New Energy for America: In contrast to the Big Oil policies of the Administration that leave us more dependent on foreign supplies, pledge to launch a concerted drive for energy independence like the one called for by the Apollo Alliance. Create new jobs by investing in efficiency and alternative energy sources, helping America capture the growing green industries of the future.

    Rebuild America First: Rescind Bush's tax cuts for the rich and corporations, which create more jobs in China than here, and use that money to put people to work building the infrastructure vital to a high-wage economy. Start with challenging the Administration's trickle-down plans for the Gulf Coast, which will victimize once more those who suffered the most.

    Make Work Pay: In contrast to the Bush economy, in which profits and CEO salaries soar while workers' wages stagnate and jobs grow insecure, put government on the side of workers. Raise the minimum wage. Empower workers to join unions by allowing card-check enrollment. Pay the prevailing wage in government contracts. Stop subsidizing the export of jobs abroad.

    Make Healthcare Affordable for All: Pledge to fix America's broken healthcare system, with the goal of moving to universal, affordable healthcare by 2015. Start by reversing the Republican sellout to the pharmaceutical industry by empowering Medicare to bargain down costs and by allowing people to purchase drugs from safe outlets abroad. Protect Retirement Security: In contrast to Bush's plan to dismantle Social Security, pledge to strengthen it and to require companies to treat the shop floor like the top floor when it comes to pensions and healthcare.

    Keep the Promise of Opportunity: Instead of Republican plans to cut eligibility for college grants and to limit loans, offer a contract to American students: If they graduate from high school, they will be able to afford the college or higher technical training they have earned. Pay for this by preserving the tax on the wealthiest multimillion-dollar estates in America.

    Refocus on Real Security for America: In contrast with Bush's pledge to stay in Iraq indefinitely, sapping our military and breeding terrorists, put forth a firm timeline for removing the troops from Iraq. Use the money saved to invest in security at home. Lead an aggressive international alliance to track down stateless terrorists, to get loose nukes under control and to fight nuclear proliferation.

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    The meme going around among a lot of dedicated pros and insiders is "don't criticize us for lack of solutions unless you are offering some yourself".

    So here's mine (even though I stole it from Borosage). The bonus is that every one of these issues can point to failures in the current administration. Something like this could easily be modified to be state-specific.

  • (Show?)

    the unfortunate fact is that while we (Dems) can regain control of the issues again, it's probably going to take a few years. we might win the Oregon House next and make inroads to the Congress, but overall the 10 perceptions bailie listed will remain in place for a long time. we need to remember how many years it took the conservatives to take over. but as the 20th Century liberal project faltered, society was ready to listen to their ideas about personal responsibility, private rights, etc. now that the Goldwater faction of the Rs has been routed by Rove's neocon wingnuts, we see our country ready to ditch a lot of what they've inflicted on us.

    the progressive wing of the Dem party is stepping up to this challenge; hooray that we have Howard Dean leading the way. it will take time, but if we are persistent and consistent, if we keep fighting for our beliefs, if we keep speaking the truth to our neighbors; in time we can see those beliefs become not just public policy but public values. we can turn the tide, but it's gonna be hard. we have started, though; we have much to build on.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Now LT and Bailie - you all need to calm down a little.

    The ten points that Bailie wrote are perceptions and not reality. Anyone can check it out. The Platform of the Democratic Party of Oregon is not secret. In fact - read it yourself -

    http://www.dpo.org/inside/pc/platform/DPO_2004_Platform.pdf

    and you will find that nothing in what Bailie claims as "perceptions" are born out in reality. There is only one official source stating what Democrats believe, and it is the platform. As LT rightly points, out, having one elected representative take a position does not paint the Party one way or another. As close as Bailie gets to reality is the mass transit stuff - and yes, Democrats do support the availability of mass transit, but extending that then to taking away someone's SUV is a leap of faith (you might want to read my blog about Heresy about now.)

    As I drive around in my SUV (a gas conserving Subaru Forrester) 150 miles from the nearest mass transit, I will comtemplate that an argument about mass transit doesn't mean much to those of us over here in Central Oregon.

  • LT (unverified)
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    I like Pat Ryan's comment. Makes a lot of sense. Specific proposals are always a good idea.

    Also, saying mass transit doesn't mean much in rural Oregon is the sort of detail we need to realize more often.

    Statements like "the Democratic party is weak" are pretty vague. In this state they are so weak they control all statewide elected officials except Gordon Smith, and one chamber of the legislature. (she said sarcastically)

    We need to make clear the difference between national politics and Oregon politics.

    And we need discussions about such "dry " subjects as the tax code. Republicans have a vice chair named Russ Walker of Measure 30 fame. Does that mean every Republican has sworn never to discuss tax cut changes or even adding to the liquor or tobacco taxes because "the voters have spoken on Measure 30"?

    By the same token, are all union members and public employees Democrats and all business managers and "private sector" employees Republicans?

    What then of the NAV registrants?

    All I was trying to say is that we need the level of detail which goes beyond "You Democrats love mass transit and hate SUVs" to details like SUVs make more sense in rural areas than driving 217 to go to work in downtown Portland.

    I realize some people don't like discussing details. But is that a partisan divide? I don't think so.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Steve, I am surprised that you don't see the reality of the perceptions. You can disregard them, but they are real. Given all of the faults of the Republican Party, why do you think that the Democrats have had the dismal showing? I will respectfully disagree if you attribute the Republican success to "the machine". I think Linda was correct in that it is all about the lack of solutions. It is not a solution to always be complaining about George Bush, but that is what the general public notices.

    Just as an example, "What is the Democratic Party position on the war in Iraq?" I have no idea, except criticism of Bush.

    or

    Is there any opposition to Unions as a public position of the Democratic Party? Best example for me, is the teacher who told me that "OEA owns the Governor and the Democratic Party in Oregon". It was difficult to disagree.

  • Steve Bucknum (unverified)
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    Bailie - Dismal showing???

    Like LT said - the Democrats have the Governor's office, Sec. of State, Education, Labor, Attorney General, 4 of 5 Congressional seats, and one of two Senators - dismal showing??

    If you want a dismal showing, you'd have to look at Karen Minnis whose only apparent option to hold onto control was to block bills, refuse to have hearings, schedule key hearing for after the Legislative session, etc. etc. Around these parts, it is the Democrats who had bills to work on, and the Republicans were the Party of blocking things. I guess I do discount some Republican ideas - reducing the minimum wage and reducing the capital gains tax - those are ideas, but the wrong ones.

    The Oregon Democrats have set up an investment in infrastructure that will in the next ten years bring over a Billion Dollars to all parts of Oregon. We are working at supporting education, there are lots of things we are working on to improve the State and in doing so improve the lives of everyone (even Republicans) that live here.

    So, if you want to talk about the Party of Action versus the Party of blockage and no ideas - go for it - I know which is which even if you don't.

    Yes, perceptions take on a level of reality - but you can't confuse the smoke and mirrors for the real thing.

    Once we finish our task of moving Rural Oregon to vote more for the Democrats, then the last part of the era of the Neo-Con Republicans will be over, and become a chapter in a dusty covered history book.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Steve, My initial reference was mainly a quick overview of perceptions of Democrats on the national level.

    You say, "the Democrats have the Governor's office, Sec. of State, Education, Labor, Attorney General, 4 of 5 Congressional seats, and one of two Senators - dismal showing??"

    So here we are in Oregon as you mention, and by many measures it is a dismal showing.

    1) We have had the worst unemployment of any state in the U.S. over the last five year period.

    2) Our "Per capita income" has dropped to 36th in the U.S. from 26th in 1999.

    3) Oregon K-12 education is very average, despite having among the highest individually compensated K-12 employees in the U.S.

    4) According to various measures, we are among the worst of U.S. states for drug/meth use.

    5) We have next to the worst K-12 student attendance in the U.S.

    6) Oregon is close to to worst in childhood hunger in the U.S.

    So you say, Once we finish our task of moving Rural Oregon to vote more for the Democrats,.." I wonder what condition our state will then be in?

  • (Show?)

    Patience! I've been involved in Oregon Democratic Politcs for a whole lot longer than a year and I came away form the Oregon Summit with a completely different feeling than Linda. Go to the Virtual Summit and see for your self. Turning the Party in the correct direction does not happen overnight. Healthy citizens, sustainable energy policies and working toward retaining State House are my impressions of the Summit. Make sure you sign the petition to make Affordable Health Care a constitutional right in Oregon.

  • Linda Evans (unverified)
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    Pat - Thanks for your comments. I realize more clearly that it's incumbent on us all to think thru the issues ourselves, and I do know that the state Democratic party has been very welcoming to us rural folks - our ideas are just beginning to emerge and I have alot of hope in the potential of the Rural Caucus to make these ideas more solid and concrete.

    Bailie - your list of perceptions probably do represent the view of Democrats held by many, especially in our part of the state. That doesn't make them true, however. While the Democrats need to work on "reframing", I think more than that we need ideas and proposals and dreams for the future that give us something along with values to lead and inspire the country. If I were to list the qualities we think typify Republicans, it wouldn't be a very pretty list! Just perceptions, of course!

    Eric - I think you're right - closing all those mills in Crook County created the highest unemployment rate in the state here, and the picture hasn't improved a whole lot since then. And the voters have been in the Republican camp since.

    Pat - on your list of ideas, they helped me see what it is I'm yearning for in our leadership - some dreams, ala Kennedy's challenge to do what we can for our country or reaching the moon. Energy independence is a great one, a big challenge that will put people to work and clear up so many of our foreign entanglements. And building up a policy of American self-sufficiency in basic industries from steel to food, in spite of pressures from free-traders to give up our notion of who we are as a people in order to buy stuff from the cheapest provider. And health care for everyone. And a sensible scheme for leaving Iraq a better place than it is (perhaps by working ceaselessly to get the world of nations back into the picture).

    Phil - I didn't mean to suggest that there weren't positives in the Summit. I guess I was responding to the continual drumbeat of what is wrong at the national and state level. And remembering the last presidential election when Kerry made one little reference in one of the debates about moving towards energy independence, and that was that for dreams. The rest of the debates were on what tough guys us Democrats are and how we can do as good a job as Bush at defending the country. Ha! Thank you all for your replies, this process helps me feel better!!!

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Linda, Thank you for your comments. I agree that there are perceptions of Republicans, and I am interested in what they are. Perhaps they could be the antithesis of what I presented. Clearly, many in the U.S. agree with the perceptions of Democrats. It has been about 60 years since the elections have been as lopsided as they were in 2004. As I said previously, I don't think the Republicans were doing anything extraordinary to warrant the success.

    You say, "Bailie - your list of perceptions probably do represent the view of Democrats held by many, especially in our part of the state. That doesn't make them true, however."

    Which of the perceptions are false? The perceptions appear to be perpetuated by reading/hearing opinions of most Democrats, even those on this blog.

  • Richard Bolcavitch (unverified)
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    Interesting paper by Larry Bartels that takes issue with Tom Frank's book "What's the Mattter with Kansas?"

    Bartels claims that:

    • Has the white working class abandoned the Democratic Party? No. White voters in the bottom third of the income distribution have actually become more reliably Democratic in presidential elections over the past half-century, while middle- and upper-income white voters have trended Republican. Low-income whites have become less Democratic in their partisan identifications, but at a slower rate than more affluent whites – and that trend is entirely confined to the South, where Democratic identification was artificially inflated by the one-party system of the Jim Crow era.

    • Has the white working class become more conservative? No. The average views of low-income whites have remained virtually unchanged over the past 30 years. (A pro-choice shift on abortion in the 1970s and ‘80s has been partially reversed since the early 1990s.) Their positions relative to more affluent white voters – generally less liberal on social issues and less conservative on economic issues – have also remained virtually unchanged.

    • Do working class “moral values” trump economics? No. Social issues (including abortion) are less strongly related to party identification and presidential votes than economic issues are, and that is even more true for whites in the bottom third of the income distribution than for more affluent whites. Moreover, while social issue preferences have become more strongly related to presidential votes among middle- and high-income whites, there is no evidence of a corresponding trend among low-income whites.

    • Are religious voters distracted from economic issues? No. The partisan attachments and presidential votes of frequent church-goers and people who say religion provides “a great deal” of guidance in their lives are much more strongly related to their views about economic issues than to their views about social issues. For church-goers as for non-church-goers, partisanship and voting behavior are primarily shaped by economic issues, not cultural issues.

    http://www.princeton.edu/%7ebartels/kansas.pdf

  • Denise (unverified)
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    Just wanted to express my opinion on Steve's comment, "I will comtemplate that an argument about mass transit doesn't mean much to those of us over here in Central Oregon." I believe that the poor workers and seniors would benefit from a mass transit system over here in Central Oregon. Prineville is not known for its superior doctors, so how does a sick senior get to the doctor in Bend? The People Mover is expensive on a fixed income. Poor workers or workers who have had their licenses suspended need a cheap way to get to their jobs, even over here in Central Oregon. With the way that Central Oregon is growing, this is the best time to start planning for a mass transit system.

  • Linda Evans (unverified)
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    In reply to Richard's quotes on the findings of Larry Bartels, it's nice to read an alternative to "poor people are stupid too" because they apparently vote against their economic interests. Ha!

  • Linda (unverified)
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    Bailie, After rereading your list of "perceptions" of Democrats, I'm wondering if those perceptions come just from the fundamentalist Dr. Dobson types of the Republican party. Because here in central Oregon, I know that local Democrats are often church-goers, often small-business people, most of us drive SUV's or other gas-guzzlers and wish we didn't now because of the price of gas, I don't think the artistic stab applies at all here and considering what Clinton did to the welfare system, I don't think that one applies either. So I'm not sure you'd get agreement here that these are generally true statements about Democrats. I think people voted Republican here largely over the forest issues, as employment had been so strongly linked to mills and logging and when that came to a halt, the Republicans suggested that they would open it all up again.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    Linda, Again, thank you for raising this discussion. It is important for the Democratic Party, as well as the voting public. There is no doubt that the exceptions you list are true. While you mixed your area with the national scene, I guess I did, also. You were wondering if my perceptions originated from "Dr. Dobson types of the Republican Party"? I didn't include his name in No.7 on "the list", should I? The perceptions I listed did not necessarily originate from Republicans, and I didn't want that to be the impression.

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/opinion/editorials/2004-11-09-religion-edit_x.htm

    I also agree that different parts of the country had different reasons for voting in favor of Republicans. But I continue to suggest that it wasn't because the Republicans were doing something so well (or was it?), but because the Democratic Party has hitched rides with unfavorable positions in the American society. Just as in the article represented above, the Democratic Party is working diligently to change positions about everything from gun control to religion.

    I also suggest as you have, that the answer for the Democratic Party is about solutions, and not just attacking the opposition. Example, what is the clear Democratic Party position on the Iraq War? On Afghanistan? On Social Security? These are among the leading concerns of the Democratic Party, yet I would venture to guess, that the general public has no idea where the Democratic Party stands.

    I also think you are in denial if you believe that there isn't a derogatory message about SUVs resonating from the liberal/left side of the Democratic Party. I'm also suggesting that it could be a legitimate concern about SUVs and the broader impact of conservation of energy. But to demonize their use (and their owners) has been have been counter-productive.

  • Bailie (unverified)
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    I apologize for using the above reference by Jonah Goldberg (and getting the comment on the incorrect post), there were many to chose from. The information is representative, but the author isn't. Perhaps another (of many available) would be:

    http://atheism.about.com/b/a/015876.htm

    My suggestion is that the perception is not without merit and not necessarily from a Republican point of view.

    Perhaps this represents the perception best, from the Democratic Leadership Council:

    http://www.dlc.org/ndol_ci.cfm?contentid=252572&kaid=127&subid=170

  • Marvinlee (unverified)
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    This thread seems quiescent, but I wonder if both parties are missing the larger issue? As a nation, we need pragmatic solutions that will cope with enormous long-term challenges. What do we do about our declining energy reserves? What do we do about population growth over the long term? Is there an effective solution to rising expenditures on health care? How much is too much for health care? Does illegal immigration have a solution? If so, what is it? Or should we have open borders, as some advocate? What do we do, if anything, about our growing trade deficit and international indebtedness? How big a military do we need and can we afford? How can the nation get more learning for its education investments? Name calling and blame setting are a normal part of the political process, but I would like to also see a more serious examination of the issues I listed.

  • Tom Civiletti (unverified)
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    Due to the weakness of our popular culture and educational system, along with well-funded disinformation efforts by marketers and corporate-backed "conservatives", there are many disconnects between reality and political perception among American voters. That presents a significant challenge for Democrats: how to win votes while promoting rational policy that promotes the interests of those same voters. This problem seems most severe in rural areas, where resource extraction is an important source of jobs and cultural minorities either flee or maintain low profiles.

    Republicans solve this by abandoning good policy for political pandering and kleptocratic programs. Their success, I think, is made possible because of the disinformation systems that support their irrationality.

    Dems have Air America.

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