The Oregonian takes more than its share of body blows at Blue Oregon (more than a few from me), but when they do something right, its worth noting as well.
The lead obit in today's paper wasn't an elected official, wasn't a titan of local industry. Indeed, the death of comedian Bernie Mac was off to the side. The majority of page A13 was taken up with the life story of Roger Gates. Roger wasn't famous. He was, by all accounts, a troubled man who was destroyed by alcohol. He lived on a few hundred dollars a month, earned by selling Street Roots in front of the Trader Joe's on NW Glisan. I bought a few, but mostly, like many others, I just moved on by. He was always polite, friendly.
Roger died this weekend. He didn't invent anything, didn't cure anything. Occassionally, Street Roots ran his poetry. But simply by being himself, he became a part of the community, a recognized face and a comforting consistency.
It would have been easy to let his passing, in a downtown SRO, go unnoted. But the Big O didn't. And in doing us the favor of not ignoring Roger Gates, they helped remind us of why we are Democrats, and who we represent. Hubert Humphrey once said "the test of a nation is how it treats those at the beginning of life -- the children -- how it treats those at the end of life -- the elderly -- and how it treats those in the shadows of life -- the sick and the disabled." That is the test of a party as well. Part of that is how -- and if -- we choose to remember them. So thanks to the Oregonian for a reminder of why I am a Democrat and who we fight for. We fight for the Roger Gates' of the world.