By Bill Bodden of Redmond, Oregon. Bill is a long-time activist and commentator.
When I was a child, I learned from my grandfather that it takes a good man to admit to being wrong. In the seven decades since then, there have been countless instances when I was challenged by my grandfather’s dictum. My experiences in this regard taught me two additional lessons: One is that it is not only a sign of good character to admit to being wrong, it is also the wise and healthful thing to do. The other lesson is the obverse. It is not only a sign of a flawed character when failing to admit to being wrong, it is also the unwise and unhealthful thing to do.
In that spirit, let me admit that I was wrong in my opposition to Jeff Merkley on BlueOregon when he was running in the Democratic primary for the Senate seat he now occupies. I didn’t know that much about Merkley at the time, but the fact that he was being encouraged by Senator Chuck Schumer (D-NY) was more than enough to turn me off on anyone connected to that much-despised politician. I’m not about to admit to being wrong about Schumer, but I was certainly wrong about Merkley. I did vote for Merkley in the general election. There was no way I was going to vote for Smith. I figured, if nothing else, Merkley might prove to be the lesser evil.
In a remarkably short period after taking office, Merkley took positions that not only impressed me with his progressive and democratic (note the small d) qualities, but more impressive was the sense that he was a man who thought for himself and had the courage to show it.
Recently, I was watching the opening interchanges of the Senate Banking Committee’s hearing on Jamie Dimon and his fiasco at JP Morgan. Merkley and Schumer sit on that committee, but a few minutes of the more senior senators showing their deference to the banker who should have been treated like the accused in a crime was more than I could endure. Fortunately, Matt Taibbi of Rolling Stone who is very knowledgeable about Wall Street’s high crimes and the corruption in Congress toughed it out and wrote a very informative article for his magazine.
There are very few politicians who get favorable reviews from Matt Taibbi, but on this occasion he said of Merkley, "If not for Oregon’s Jeff Merkley, who was the only senator who understood the importance of taking the right tone with Dimon, the hearing would have been a total fiasco."
Unfortunately, Jeff is now halfway through his term and if he is planning to run for reelection, this is when he will be most vulnerable to the corrupting influence of soliciting funds for his reelection campaign. This sordid game got the better of many sterling people in the past and will do so again until we, as a nation, get the money out of politics. So now is the time to let Jeff know you like what he has done so far and to keep up the good work and when it comes time to run again he will have your support.