Once again, right-wingers bullying GOP House moderates

Why would a legislator sponsor a bill -- but then vote against their own bill?

An Oregon blogger named "diverdonreed" has the story at Daily Kos:

Oregon: one of the most beautiful states in the Union: green forests, blue sea, crashing white waves on black rock cliffs—and the scene of some ugly bullying by the state Republican party.

It seems two Republican representatives had the audacity to be co-sponsors of a bill to support embryonic stem cell research in Oregon.

Rep. Vicki Berger (R-Salem) and Rep. Bob Jenson (R-Pendleton) had taken a stand beside the 74% of Oregonians who support expanding the research. (poll: Portland-based Riley Research Associates, 2005)

However, the Republican leadership quickly whipped them into line—forcing them to withdraw their support for the life-saving possibilities of stem cell research.

How was this done? How could party leaders force an elected representative to vote against both their consciences and the will of their constituents?

Well, how about being threatened with the loss of your job?

According to the Associated Press, "...sources at the Capitol said they could also have been warned that a vote for the measure could bring on a primary challenge." — "Stem cell research bill dies on Oregon House floor", Julia Silverman, Associated Press Writer, June 21, 2007.

In other words, the two Representatives had to vote against stem cell research, or the Republican party would find someone to run against them.

Read the rest, including what "diverdonreed" says you can do about it -- and why stem-cell research is so important to him.

Discuss.

Comments

  • Peter Bray (unverified)
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    The fewer "moderate" GOPers, the better.

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    This doesn't surprise me. That's why it is so hard to get to 36 - ever since the fiasco a few years ago when some Rs worked on a compromise with the Ds to raise taxes, this has been the case.

    Every R was warned they'd have a primary challenger who was backed by the party. Some chose not to run again. Others were beat.

    So it's no like it is an idle threat - the legislators know that the House Republican leadership has done this before, and recently.

    That is why Wayne Scott & Co have to go.

  • Gary Killpack (unverified)
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    I WOULD HAVE LIKED TO GIVE THEM A BLACK EYE FOR THIS, BUT IT LOOKS LIKE THEY DID IT TO THEMSELVES. WAY TO GO G.O.P ( GREED OVER PEOPLE ).

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    This is what happens when mean people get bored with their jobs. It also is a product of people who get extremely upset because the D's didn't fall for the pervasive propaganda that goes with this spitefull behaviour. What a bunch of fat-assed vipers.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    How could party leaders force an elected representative to vote against both their consciences and the will of their constituents?

    Well, how about being threatened with the loss of your job?

    How about selling your integrity? How about seeing this as a chance to be profiles in courage? Prostitutes sell their honor and respect for jobs.

  • Leo XXIII (unverified)
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    They are afraid to lose their jobs? At what point will members understand that it is their job to stand up for what is important. If they get unelected b/c of that, they should be proud. The nice thing about having a part time legislature (and there are not many) is they have other jobs--they don'thave to have this one to survice. I like both of those legislators, but they should get a back bone!

  • Blueshift (unverified)
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    It's not just people's jobs that are at stake when a threat like this is issued. It's also legislation and policy issues that are important and may never get a hearing because of these bullying tactics. When Scott & Co. threaten Berger and Jenson with a primary challenge, those two reps have to think about all the bills that are close to their hearts that will never pass, on issues that nobody else in the legislature cares enough about to work on. Every legislator comes to Salem with a big-picture idea of what the legislature should do, usually driven by whatever party they are a member of. But they also have a couple of issues that are their own personal priorities--sometimes it's something as small as streamlining the way emergency services cooperate, sometimes it's something complex like promoting renewable fuel standards. Either way, a primary challenge not only means that Berger and Jenson could lose their seat, but that their good ideas will go away with them. And if there's one thing we want to preserve in the Republican Party, it's the good ideas and bipartisan spirit of moderate Republicans.

  • Blueshift (unverified)
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    It's not just people's jobs that are at stake when a threat like this is issued. It's also legislation and policy issues that are important and may never get a hearing because of these bullying tactics. When Scott & Co. threaten Berger and Jenson with a primary challenge, those two reps have to think about all the bills that are close to their hearts that will never pass, on issues that nobody else in the legislature cares enough about to work on. Every legislator comes to Salem with a big-picture idea of what the legislature should do, usually driven by whatever party they are a member of. But they also have a couple of issues that are their own personal priorities--sometimes it's something as small as streamlining the way emergency services cooperate, sometimes it's something complex like promoting renewable fuel standards. Either way, a primary challenge not only means that Berger and Jenson could lose their seat, but that their good ideas will go away with them. And if there's one thing we want to preserve in the Republican Party, it's the good ideas and bipartisan spirit of moderate Republicans.

  • Blueshift (unverified)
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    Apologies for the double post there...

  • dddave (unverified)
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    Heat, kitchen? Lesson, if you are a puss, you get treated like that. I am a republican, and if Wayne Scott told me anything like what is described, I'd tell him to shove it up his ass. Once you get in, you are only guaranteed one term, use it wisely. If you are willing to sacrifice anything to stay in power, we dont need you, the tarpit of Salem has got you. If you do not recognize this extremely simple fact about personal integrity, you are a moron and have no business trying to govern us.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    And if there's one thing we want to preserve in the Republican Party, it's the good ideas and bipartisan spirit of moderate Republicans.

    Moderate Republicans won't survive if they allow themselves to be browbeaten by the rabid right. In 1933 there were non-Nazis who thought they could work with Hitler and if they accommodated him and brought him into the fold they could eventually control him. If you need me to tell you how that worked out, let me know.

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    Let's not go comparing Republicans to Nazis. It's not accurate, and there's nothing good that can come of it.

    (And, btw, it cheapens and minimizes the horrible atrocities that the Nazis committed.)

  • LT (unverified)
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    Bill, Kari is right.

    Say what you will about Vicki Berger, as a constituent I would be really offended and say so to anyone who said to my face, "In 1933 there were non-Nazis who thought they could work with Hitler and if they accommodated him and brought him into the fold they could eventually control him".

    As many times as I have disagreed with her this session, Berger has been more open than previous sessions and actually done some intelligent things.

    Perhaps that has something to do with an underfunded candidate cutting her victory margin down to roughly half the number of unaffiliated voters in the district.

    If you don't like what the current Republicans have done, use your energies instead to demand that Dem. challengers to Republican incumbents are treated better by House Dems in the next election. Gilbertson and Peralta smashed all the "professional" expectations of how a candidate without a ton of money and in a district with "a lousy R to D ratio" was supposed to "not have a chance". Other candidates ignored by many did better than expected. What might have happened if some of that huge effort expended for Brading had gone to Wayne Scott's opponent?

    People win elections for a variety of reasons. Blaming the ones elected to the caucus controlled by Wayne Scott for not bucking him at every turn doesn't solve anything. However, mention of Nazis can be really toxic. There are those who think what tipped the balance away from Cong. Denny Smith and toward Mike Kopetski (who won) was the infamous "voice of Hitler" commercial.

    Let's all be adults and not do that kind of name-calling.

  • Steve (unverified)
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    Why is this such a big shock? I have received emails from Move-On saying the same things about pro-war Ds, and whether we like it or not this is just part of our party system. The parties in some cases need to keep their folks together, and that is exactly what the Republicans did on this particular issue. This shouldn't be a shock to anyone.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Let's not go comparing Republicans to Nazis. It's not accurate, and there's nothing good that can come of it.

    You are distorting my use of analogy. My point was that compromising with people willing to use strong-arm tactics means running the risk of being dominated by them. Citing the non-Nazis and Hitler was just one of many examples, but it was one that showed how extreme the consequences can be. Nowhere did I equate the Republicans with the Nazis, but if people step on a slippery slope they would do well to consider the consequences could be disastrous. Parents do this all the time with their children when they try to dissuade them from drinking and driving or getting involved in drugs. If a parent uses an example of some drunk who killed someone while driving under the influence does that mean that parent is equating his or her child with the drunk? I don't believe the right-wing Republicans have in mind anything as extreme as Hitler's ideas, but another legislative session in 2009 like the one in 2005 should be cause for concern.

    I would be really offended and say so to anyone who said to my face, "In 1933 there were non-Nazis who thought they could work with Hitler and if they accommodated him and brought him into the fold they could eventually control him".

    If you said that to me I would give it some serious thought and would presume your point was to warn me of the prospect that I might be dominated and marginalized. I wouldn't, however, jump to some unwarranted conclusion that you were suggesting my opponents would be going into the business of opening up concentration camps around the nation.

  • Eric J. (unverified)
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    I think, Bill, a better analogy would be "If these bullying R's don't learn from history (i.e The Nazis), they will be doomed to repeat it".

    Also, the Nazis were not the only ones with strong arm tactics - the communist Russians of Stalin's time were not to bad at it as well.

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    You are distorting my use of analogy.

    Fair enough. I'm partly reacting to previous comments by others that do equate the GOP with Nazis. I have no love for the GOP, to be sure, but comparing the two cheapens and normalizes what the Nazis did.

  • Bill Bodden (unverified)
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    Fair enough. I'm partly reacting to previous comments by others that do equate the GOP with Nazis.

    <h2>It is wrong and intellectually dishonest to equate the GOP or any other group with the Nazis. There was much about them that was unique to their history, but it would be foolhardy to ignore elements that some groups have in common. I just finished "The Coming of the Third Reich" by Richard J. Evans, and at several points I found myself saying, "That is like X or Y" but I never thought of X or Y as a Nazi. Judiciousness, however, demands that one recognize that X and Y are as a consequence probably also capable of causing great harm though not necessarily in the way or on the scale of the Nazis. I would certainly never equate George W. Bush with Hitler. The latter was apparently more intelligent and certainly a much more skilled orator. He was much more evil and motivated in a racism that doesn't exits in Bush, but when it comes to hubris and illusions about reorganizing continents, then perhaps they have these aspects in common.</h2>
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