While we got a little wet, Oregon didn't get swept away by the red tide of 2010. But we came within just small margins and a few peculiarities from being Wisconsin of the West. In a difference of just inches, when Oregon rose slightly above the wave, Wisconsin was swept away. A few hundred votes here, a less robust effort in the Tri-county area, and we could have had Governor Dudley and GOP majorities in Salem. Gov. Kitzhaber did win by 22,000 votes, but overlooked in the telling is that almost 40,000 votes were cast for the Libertarian and Constitutional party candidates. In Marion County, solid Democratic incumbent Rep. Betty Komp retained her seat with only a 623 vote margin. Out of almost 49,000 cast votes, Democratic Sen. Alan Bates of Jackson County held off a GOP challenge by just 275 votes.
Oregon and Wisconsin share a history of populism, of progressive thought and activism. As appalled as we were at the results nationwide, the red wash of Wisconsin that took down progressive Democratic Senator Russ Feingold, shocked us to the core. It could have easily been us – not just by way of the results, but we too could have been overwhelmed by policies that came puking out of the Governor's office and the chambers of the Statehouse.
I'm not overstating this. Chris Dudley missed the first traditional General Election Gubernatorial debate to attend a GOP Governor's Conference in Aspen. Scott Walker and Dudley would have been working from identical playbooks; Dudley certainly could have brought none of his own. In Salem, 22 of our legislators – all GOP - are active members of ALEC, and have not been reticent about using the ALEC templates for proposed legislation.
But Wisconsin is not simply a lesson in what could have been, AND a wake up call for our future activism. Wisconsin is now, and is the near future in political campaigns. Wisconsin will tell us if the grassroots stands a chance against the overwhelming odds of a deck stacked by those of privilege and power. In pushing the odds a little, even from 2000 miles away, we can help our progressive cousins get out one more vote and make one more call. We can be one of those nuances that helps our friends get democracy back over the top in Wisconsin.
In our close knit cyber national community, it is not just possible, but essential, to adopt Wisconsin.