"After 25 years, I am no longer a Republican." -James Chaney

Russell Sadler

It is probably one of the bigger unreported stories of the year. It is the steady “drip, drip, drip” of defections of traditional Republicans from their party.

The news of these Republican defections is being reported largely in local newspapers and circulated in the “blogosphere” -- that growing collection of websites that recirculates newspaper stories to a small, but growing national audience.

Last week, the Eugene Register-Guard published a column by James Chaney, a Eugene attorney and Republican stalwart, who declared, “As of today, after 25 years, I am no longer a Republican.” Registration figures suggest Chaney is not the only Republican who has reached this conclusion, but Chaney is notable for the way he said it. The man is a wordsmith.

“We’re poisoning our planet through gluttony and ignorance. We’re teetering in the brink of self-inflicted insolvency. We’re selfishly and needlessly sacrificing the best of a generation. And we’re lying about it,” wrote Chaney.

“While it has compiled this record of failure and deception, the party which I'm leaving today has spent its time, energy and political capital trying to save Terri Schiavo, battling the threat of single-sex unions, fighting medical marijuana and physician-assisted suicide, manufacturing political crises over presidential nominees, and selling privatized Social Security to an America that isn't buying. We fiddle while Rome burns.”

“Enough is enough,” wrote Chaney. “I quit.”

By the end of the week, Chaney’s remarks were being discussed all over the country. Editors at the Register-Guard tell me no newspapers have asked to reprint Chaney’s column. Its notoriety is all a function of the “blogosphere.” Chaney’s column was published on dozens of these websites from the political right to the political left: crooksandliars.com; ThomasMc.com; andrewtobias.com; libertypost.org; afterthefuture.net are just a sample.

The word is out and is getting around. Oregon’s traditional Republicans are restless with the company their party is keeping.

This has happened once before -- after World War II. The Oregon Republican Party was controlled by ossified leaders still loyal to the party and principles of isolationist Ohio Sen. Robert Taft, defeated for the Republican nomination in 1952 by military hero Dwight Eisenhower. Eisenhower went on to win the presidency and the Oregon Republican Party lost control of the Legislature and Democrats began winning the governor’s office that had belonged to Oregon Republicans since the Great Depression.

A young Republican legislator named Bob Packwood decided to bring a younger generation of new blood to the party by creating an annual meeting that started at the Dorchester House in Lincoln City in 1965. The annual Dorchester Conference shortly eclipsed the Oregon Republican Party as the fountainhead of new ideas and recruiting ground for new political talent. The political careers of some of the best Republican statewide officeholders were enhanced or began at the Dorchester conference.

Oregon Democrats felt threatened enough by the Dorchester Republicans to form their own group independent of the Oregon Democratic Party -- Demoforum.

Competition between Dorchester and Demoforum spawned a generation of political competition that hammered out some of the most durable legislation of the 1960s and 70s -- from the Bottle Bill and the Beach Bill to the Homeowners and Renters Property Tax Relief Program to key tax credits that helped polluting industries afford the equipment to clean up the Willamette River.

The proper response to James Chaney’s lament is, “What are you Oregon Republicans going to do about it?” The next response is “Where are Oregon’s Democrats?”

Oregon’s Democrats are moribund. Like their national counterparts, they betrayed the industrial manufacturing workers in the name of “free trade” and lost the core of their political base.

Leaders of the Oregon Republicans accept money from national conservative groups in exchange for enacting the national Republican ideological agenda at the state level -- Oregon Republicans will not be allowed their maverick, independent way of solving the state’s problems -- the ways developed by Dorchester Republicans that produced so many Republican statewide office holders in the 1960s, 70s and 80s. It is a Faustian bargain. Today’s Oregon Republicans are so ideologically rigid they have anger much of their “base,” and nominate candidates that cannot get elected. No Oregon Republican has held an important statewide office since the late 1980s.

Many Oregon Republicans share James Chaney’s sense of betrayal. Many Oregon Democrats feel unrepresented and betrayed. Many Independents feel unrepresented and bewildered.

James Chaney’s complaint is more evidence of the discontent brewing below the surface of Oregon’s civic life. Solutions may come, but only of Oregonians return to their roots and reclaim their maverick, independent political life and find their own ways of solving Oregon’s problems. I suspect such people will find the “blogosphere” as their way of communicating. That’s how James Chaney’s manifesto is being circulated -- after it was published in a newspaper.

  • Doc (unverified)

    As the author alludes, the phenomena of switching or simply leaving a political party is not uncommon and cyclical. Lord Acton said it best about what an increase in power and influence does; it corrupts. What concerns me is the present lack of a cohesive and concentrated opposition to the present political power structures in our state and nation. Perhaps we are just seeing the beginnings of an effective resistance to the status quo. I hope so. For our brand of democracy to sustain itself, I believe we have to look back at Madison's warning that we need many factions to keep the more powerful ones from undermining the constitutional rights and priviledges that are vital to the continuance of the "consent of the governed".

  • LT (unverified)

    My brother was a Republican when he first registered, then switched to Indep. He liked what he saw of Kerry on C-Span and supported him. He called the 2004 GOP convention a "slanderfest". Just after the convention, the GOP in his home county (not in Oregon) mailed him a registration application saying "Don't you want to register with a party again?".

    After considerable thought he mailed in the registration as a Democrat and mailed the county GOP a letter thanking them for making it so convenient.

    People like that (I have known others) have no paid lobbyist and thus don't get publicity. But that doesn't mean such things don't happen.

  • (Show?)

    Chaney's article was indeed linked across the blogosphere--I thought I read it at a couple others than the ones you list (but I'm not going to dig back through and find out which ones). With the myriad troubles confronting the GOP, Dems indeed have an opportunity. But, as you point out, it's one they have yet to seize.

    The fastest growing segment of voters has been among independents, who now number about a third of the electorate. Part of the problem with the system is that the two parties control the first, skinny half of the funnel, and independents control the latter, populist end. What that means is that primaries are dominated by a minority, who offer polarizing figures to a disenchanted majority (or often, voting plurality--the majority still sits at home, yawning).

    The power of the two parties, and their inability to craft majority coalitions, is the problem. And it appears intractable.

  • Bill Nichols (unverified)

    A man IMHO FAR wiser than any of the current crop of alleged <cough> "Republicans" once said: "I am ... angry as a legislator who must endure the threats of every religious group who thinks it has some God-granted right to control my vote on every roll call in the Senate. I am warning them today: I will fight them every step of the way if they try to dictate their moral convictions to all Americans in the name of 'conservatism.'" His name was Barry Goldwater, & I campaigned for him back in '64 when most of the twerps calling themselves Republicans today were in diapers, assuming they were sufficiently lucky to be old enough for them. I rode the elephant for a very long time, & oddly, Barry G. & I coincidentally both became disenchanted with the direction the party was taking for exactly the same reasons & at almost exactly the same time.

    There was a time when "Republicans" weren't soft on crime for politics' sake (the Elian Gonzales case) & didn't lie to cover up criminal records while telling us how honest they were (the GWB DUI case). Morals have become highly selective in the new "GOP," & there are many who got disgusted with it 2 decades ago & many more who are becoming so now. It's long past time for a political watershed to wash away these damnable parasites & let the real owners of the GOP regain control of their birthright. To horribly mix my 50's game show metaphors }:), the $64 question is, "Will the real Republicans please stand up?"

  • David Wright (unverified)

    Hey folks, I've been trying to stay away from here like a good boy, but I just had to comment on this post. Thanks for highlighting this editorial (which I wouldn't have seen otherwise). It speaks to a great deal of frustration that I have with my own party. Mr. Chaney is, indeed, a talented wordsmith. I would simply add one more major gripe I have with the current state of affairs -- and that is the attitude that any sort of compromise with the "other side" automatically makes one a traitor to the Republican party. I'm not sure when the first use of the term "RINO" came about, but I'd be willing to bet it was around 1994 -- when the "Republican Revolution" came along.

    I do wonder, though, about Mr. Chaney's "next step". While he has eloquently conveyed his views and expressed his objections to the recent actions of the Republican party, he does not offer any indication of what he's going to do about it (or what others should do about it) -- other than quit, that is.

    Mr. Chaney doesn't even say how he will be registered after quitting the Republican party. I strongly suspect, based on his views, that he will NOT become a Democrat, so presumably he'll be registered as an Independent voter (and he'll probably "lean Republican"). I doubt very much that the exodus of voters from the Republican party represents a real opportunity for the Democrats, just as those who leave the Democrats aren't necessarily likely to jump on board with the Republicans. Far more likely, I think, that most of those who leave a major party will be "leaning Independents"... in other words, they don't want the label any more, but given a choice between their old party and the other guys, they'll probably still vote for their old party.

    And this highlights the excellent point that Jeff Alworth made above -- if you aren't part of one of the two major parties, you don't have a voice in which choices you get in the general election. It's the classic question of whether you try to effect change from without or within. I certainly respect Mr. Chaney's principled decision, but it seems like if everybody who felt the same way also left the party, it would guarantee that the party would not change -- because the only people left would be the ones who think it's on the right track.

    I wonder, Jeff, would you support an open primary system to alleviate the problem you mentioned regarding election choices? I know there are pros and cons with such systems, but it does seem to me that when fully 1/3 of the electorate is left out of the primary system, it makes sense that voter apathy in the general election would follow. I'm not advocating open primaries necessarily, but while some detractors fear tampering by the "other party", I expect you'd really see more moderation because of those Independents who can express which of either party's candidates they'd like to vote for. Something to think about, anyhow.

    Also, Mr. Chaney refers to the "Republicans" or the "Party" as a monolithic structure, when it's really the leadership thereof that has offended. Of course, they've done so largely with the implicit consent of the majority of the rank and file (heck, at the national level where the worst abuses occur, it's been done with the implicit consent of the whole freakin' country). In any event, it seems to me that the way to really effect change is to change the leadership, which again one can only do if one is still a member of the party. It is a challenge, to put it mildly, to get into a position of leadership within the party without a willingness to toe the party line. But if there really is a Republican constituency out there who feels the same way (and I know for a fact that there is, I'm part of it) then there will be a way to do it, and it would be far easier than trying to organize an independent "New Republican" party. As Bill Nichols says, "Will the real Republicans please stand up?"

    Just my 2 cents...

  • Bill Nichols (unverified)

    Excellent comments on David's part -- outlining a problem isn't the same as defining a solution. The problem inherent in the two-party system as it's become entrenched in the US is that it leaves precious few viable options for the seriously disenchanted, unless you're willing to hold your nose good & hard when you vote. As Mark Twain put it, "Naked people have little or no influence in society." You have to have some clothes, & unfortunately the choices appear limited to cotton or polyester.

    Parties have become less about labels & more about ideology. Bush has at least a partially correct point with his absurdly simplistic Yer-either-fer-us-er-ag'in-us duality-based way of looking at things. A lot of Democrats were both riled & surprised when Jim Jeffords chose to pitch his tent on semi-neutral turf instead of embracing them. The fact that people like "Zig-Zag Zell" (as we called him in GA a generation ago) exist to claim they're Democrats, & people like John McCain & Chuck Hagel are still out there being Republicans (albeit rebellious ones) puts the lie to the old pre-Dixiecrat party-label approach. Leadership rhetoric notwithstanding, the “big tent” concept being sold to the faithful to keep them faithful is nothing more than a cheap soporific whitewash job.

    As David points out, politics is polylithic, what with all the Log Cabin Republicans, Blue-Dog Democrats, etc., out there. It's a shame we can't have a viable three-party system. I wish I had a good solution that would make it easier for John One-Issue Voter to have his voice heard -- maybe the concept of a coalition type of government could work. Sure, it'd be more volatile than the current setup, but at least it'd have the benefit of forcing politicos to be more civil to each other & more accountable to their constituents; you never know when you're going to need a favor from the colleague/voter you just insulted. <laugh>

  • LT (unverified)

    Too bad we can't force candidates/ elected officials to have more town hall meetings open to anyone. Then we would see which can actually answer questions (something Wyden does well) or just keep repeating labels, generalities, slogans. Or having their staff do it for them--think of how many times Peter Courtney himself is quoted in the news, while "according to her spokesman Chuck Deister" is more common than "Today, Speaker Minnis said...". There are lots of people who can't name their state legislators, but may care about an issue (the Walmart in Cedar Mill, the number of state troopers, the leaky ceiling in the small town high school, transportation, etc.) and might be motivated to vote on that issue if approached effectively (and yes, I realize that "effectively" in Portland, Eugene, Corvallis may be different than in a very rural county).

  • Tenskwatawa (unverified)

    Seeing "...make it easier for John One-Issue Voter to have his voice heard -- maybe the concept of a coalition type of government could work," prompts my report that a way making it easier, setting out one issue that can galvanize a new political (coalition) party, has begun to emerge.

    It is the Impeach Party and its beginning is a slate of 435 candidates for the U.S. House, aimed at a clean-sweep wholesale replacement in that chamber of Congress in '06. Candidates join the (party) slate by signing a Contract With Democracy,(and as Newt described his slate of 70-some candidates signed onto the '94 Contract On America), designed "to nationalize House elections."

    The Contract With Democracy is one word: Impeach. Sign that contract, keep that election promise, and any candidate can run on the Impeach Party ticket, (even ex-Democrats and ex-Republicans apparently seeking to avoid being ex-incumbents). The Impeach coalition offers the known single issue in common among the factions divided over all the other issues.

    The various other issues could be taken up in turn after the Impeach agenda is accomplished ... it there's time ... because the Impeach agenda is lengthy. Impeach Bush. And Impeach Cheney. (They can't impeach Rumsfeld or Rice but the House controls the money for Defense and State and could simply zero their budgets, which would also flush all of Bush's bureaucracy-embedded hires and appointees out of those jobs and onto the streets.) Past and present criminal acts can be the object of House investigation and judicial prosecution, including crimes of Rumsfeld, Rice, Ashcroft, Gates, and so on ... bring your list of indictments to the Party.

    After Cheney, the Speaker of the House becomes president from among the 435 newly electeds. Then there is the work to repeal every presidential directive and piece of legislation signed by this illegal administration. Repeal the Patriot Act. Repeal stem cell research restrictions. Repeal the tax cuts for the rich. Bring your contributions to the list, all can be repealed when all 435 House members are in the same party.

    And, of course, some of the House excitement of We, the People -- American voters -- would effect changes in the Senate, (we just can't elect all new ones -- 100, in one year like we can the 435 of the House). I know that Supreme Court Justices can be Impeached, too, so that would be whoever comes in (temporarily) for O'Connor, plus Scalia and Thomas as time allows. (I don't recall whether Supreme Court impeachments start in the House or Senate.)

    I haven't heard yet what the website is where the slate of 435 candidates, (at least one in every congressional district), begin signing the Contract With Democracy and begin the new Impeach Party single-issue coalition. There is no Chairman or leader -- it organizes itself. There are no press releases -- the less the mass media finds out and starts messing in it, the better. It can only come into being now that the internet exists -- the Howard Dean phenomenon -- and we can watch here and there for more news of the Impeach Party to share.

  • The Oracle (unverified)

    Prior to the November elections, I talked to a number of Republicans who had decided to not vote for Mr. Bush. They couldn't bring themselves to vote for Kerry, but as a protest against the totalitarian tendencies of the Republican Party of today, they weren't going to vote at all. I figured if my small sampling was any indication (especially in a so-called Red State), then Kerry was going to win.

    And the early exit polls coming out of Ohio seemed to support this.

    Then I heard that the CEOs at Diebold (of Ohio) and EES are all Republicans, who won't allow governmental oversight of their voting machines and their secret codes. Then I learned that many of the Republicans in Ohio, including Kenneth Blackwell (who was in charge of Ohio elections while also chairing Mr. Bush reelection campaign), are up to their necks in Coin-Gate (or what I like to call Quarter-Gate). And then I remembered that I'd read about a top Republican Party official boasting just before the election that the Republican Party had the elections locked-up for the next 40 years or longer.

    So which was it? Were the exit polls wrong and the "true" count was on the Republican-controlled electronic voting machines, or were exit polls actually accurate and the voting machines had been altered just enough (let's say by 5 percent) so that Bush was going to win Ohio no matter how people voted?

    Anyway, I consider myself an Independent. I've voted for Republicans and Democrats during my voting life. The Bush administration, however, looks like a carbon-copy of the Daley machine in Chicago. People with their mentality are only interested in gaining power and holding onto it. Integrity? Forget it. Honestly? Forget it.

    And I agree with Barry Goldwater's statement about the religious fanatics back then. Unfortunately, they are still with us. And they have taken over the Republican Party, as well as some members of the Democratic Party, with their blatant attempt to turn us into some Al Qaeda-lookalike theocracy. And don't dare try to convince me these people are Christian. What would Jesus do? Nothing that these people are up to. Was Jesus a monopolist? What Jesus a tyrant? Was Jesus a dictator? Was Jesus a theocratic nut out to enforce orthodoxy on everyone? Wasn't it, instead, people with these characteristics and mindset who had Jesus executed?

    Our democracy deserves better. Our children deserve better. People around the world, especially those seeking freedom and representation in their government, used to point to the freedom and liberty in America. Now they shake their heads and wonder what went wrong with America. After 9/11 they were with us. Then someone started a war, totally disconnected from 9/11, and then started sending prisoners to be tortured in dictatorships around the world. And freedom-loving people around the world are now looking elsewhere for their inspiration.

    Either we correct this immediately, or we might as well kiss our democracy good-bye.

  • Alan Charles (unverified)

    Great comments all, but if the Democrats don't soon start stepping up to the plate to take up the slack being left by all the Republican defections, we will be no better off than we are today. I too, grew up in a Republican household and voted Republican most of my life. I supported George Bush in 2000 because he ran as a compassionate conservative who was going to unite the country. Sadly, the only uniting I have seen him do since taking office is uniting more and more of us against him. I changed parties August 15, 2003 and wrote him and told him he was the reason I did so.

    I have been reading several items on other sites today suggesting it may be time to seriously consider a third party candidate in 2008, and if the Democrats don't soon start stepping up to the plate to show Americans some backbone, I might be willing to vote a third party ticket in 2008.

    I continue posting on every blog I can reminding people that unless we all begin writing our representatives in Washington urging them to start working to ensure a paper trail in the 2008 election, all our efforts will have been for nothing. Remember, it's who counts the votes that counts. And if we don't ensure ALL the votes are counted in 2008, we will continue having the Republican party in power. Won't you take a moment right now to write your representative and urge him or her to work to ensure that paper trail?

  • Nick Fish (unverified)

    Tom Potter and Ted Kulongoski recently appeared on my public affairs show--Outlook Portland with Nick Fish. I asked each guest who his political hero was.

    Tom Potter named Teddy Roosevelt--a progressive Republican.

    Ted Kulongoski named Abe Lincoln--a progressive Republican.

    I can't say I was surprised.

    I am a proud Democrat, raised in a Republican household. My father, now deceased, was a moderate to progressive Republican Congressman from upstate New York. He regularly voted his conscience, siding with Democrats on civil rights and the environment and earning broad support from labor.

    He took courageous, principled stands--like supporting articles of impeachment against a sitting president of his own party--on whose coattails he was originally elected.

    One of his best friends in the House was Father Robert Drinan. He worked with Barney Frank on civil rights and immigration issues.

    If Lincoln, Roosevelt or Fish ran for office today, could they win a Republican primary--or would they be viewed as too "liberal."

    I understand why people chose to leave the Republican party--or claim the party left them. We'd all be better off, however, if the Republican "big tent" included more moderate and progressive Republicans in the tradition of Lincoln, Roosevelt and my Dad.

    Nick Fish

  • glenlivid (unverified)

    Although I’m thankful that at least we now have one James Chaney, I’m thoroughly baffled that it has taken this long and there is only one (that I’ve heard of). What the hell is the matter with the rest of the Republican moderates? This is a party that has put party loyalty over it’s own values and sensibilities – to a degree that is not only shocking but downright frightening. People like my own father, a sensible and intelligent man, have become brainwashed by a bizarre ideology that seems to say, “We’re right, and that’s all there is to it. Even though we have yet to do one thing right since G. W. has been president, and even though the poll numbers, economic figures and division in this country say otherwise, we know what we’re doing.”

    Like the other posts I’ve read, I’m also pretty amazed by the Democratic Party’s inability to use the dishonesty and failures of this administration to their own advantage. This administration has been blatantly involved with criminal activity, in both the 2000 and 2004 elections, in the outing of Valerie Plame, in the way they started and conducted the war in Iraq. Those are just the big things we know about. I’m not even going to try to list all of the other possible crimes and ethics violations because I would be here all night. Talk about the criminal activity with most Republicans, as well as many Democrats, and they scoff at it as spin or politics as usual. Talk about the five year, $80 million dollar investigation of Bill Clinton with Republicans and they will defend it.

    Like most independents, I have been absolutely alienated by both parties. One is criminally insane and completely regressive; the other is so disorganized, apathetic and powerless that I would be ashamed to be associated with them. Like other people my age, I’ve had to consider finding another country. It really seems like this country is doomed to suffer the same kind of divisive power struggles, with no end in sight. By the time Bush is out of office, the damage his administration has caused may be irreversible. Like many people, I chose to stay and fight, but how in god’s name to we begin? If the people in Ohio can’t even be guaranteed a fair election, and the rest of us have just accepted the fraud, I’m really perplexed about how to get rid of this insane administration and keep it from happening again.

    I wonder how many people read Tenskwatawa’s post on the Impeach Party idea and thought it was “too radical” or “just plain crazy”. I would guess most of the loyalists to this site thought exactly that, and that is exactly the attitude that I simple cannot believe. I’m of the mindset that simply waiting for 2006, and trusting an election system that doesn’t work is crazy. I think there are too many people at the top of this administration that deserve to be criminally punished to simply vote them out of office, but I don’t see the Democrats capable of fixing the election process or prosecuting the criminals.

    One Republican got fed up and made a stand, and I’m just shocked at good it makes me feel to read about something so pathetic. One guy quit his party; where are all the others? One guy is really pissed off, one guy sees the truth and can’t take it any more. Maybe James Chaney can tell the rest of us what to do next, because I sure as hell don’t have a clue.

  • CAM (unverified)

    It always blows me away to read how some so-called progressives are always lamenting on how this country needs a third party this and how the Democratic Party has sold out that.

    I find such neo-progressive elitist rhetoric as empty as their support for working-class traditional liberal Democrats that they abandoned long ago.

    When Ronald Reagan was first elected President, fully one-half of all voters were registered Democrat, Republicans made up one-third, and the rest were non-partisan. Today, it's one-third each. The current Republican exidos is nothing more than a small blip on the screen compared to that 20-point reduction that Democratic Party leadership and neo-progressive elitists allowed to happen over the past two decades.

    Democratic party leadership and neo-progressive elitists abandoned working class/rural/small business Democrats a long time ago. But hey, don't let that fact stop neo-progressive types from making up excuses for their failures and shortcomings.

    Now the neo-progressive elitists want to blame the failure of the party (a failure that is primarily their responsibility) on the lack of participation in the primary process among nonpartisan voters (most of who are former Democrats). The hair-brained schemes they hatch to fix this problem are as dubious as the decisions they consciously made that have alienated our party base: schemes such as third party access (which we already have) or open primaries (which both sides already tried).

    I am a working-class Democrat. I know what it is to be a life-long Democrat. I know what our core values are and what rank-and file Democrats want from their party, the party of Jefferson, Roosevelt, Truman and Kennedy. I do not need to reinvent this party or search for our message, it's already there for those who are not too blind by ideology or political dogma to see.

    We are starving for leadership and action that will impact our lives and the lives of our families, not empty rhetoric about impeachment or alleged voter fraud in some other state or obsessions over political shennanegans on the other side of this country. We want real food, not the twinkies and rice cakes offered by neo-progressive rhetoric. We want substance, not symbolism, and we want it now.

    And I know how to get there, and I belive Sadler does too.

    Unfortunately I do not believe that party leadership and neo-progressive elitists have a clue how to do it, nor do they have the spine necessary to make it happen. But rather than hatching some failed plan to open our primaries to those who would further their narrow elitist agenda and further alienate the party rank-and-file, or abandoning the party altogether, I will stay and fight to make this party truly a party of the people.

  • glenlivid (unverified)

    "We are starving for leadership and action that will impact our lives and the lives of our families, not empty rhetoric about impeachment or alleged voter fraud in some other state or obsessions over political shennanegans on the other side of this country."

    While I agree with the fact that Democrats are starving for leadership and action, I strongly disagree with you referring to voter fraud and impeachment as empty rhetoric. Read Greg Palast’s coverage of the Florida election in 2000 and the Conyers report on the Ohio election in 2004. In both cases, these were the states that would decide the winner of the presidency of the United States. In both cases the Secretary of State (responsible for fair elections) was affiliated with the Bush campaign, and in both cases a myriad of fraudulent practices were used to make sure that the vote of people that were trying to vote Democrat wouldn’t see the light of day.

    How do most Democrats I've talked to feel about that? They feel just like you do.

    So go ahead and pooh-pooh the notion that the election of the president was rigged, but to me, you’re just another part of the problem. Thank god it affected James Chaney, because that is one of the reasons he lists for quitting his own party. If you think elections in other states aren’t important, just think if Bush hadn’t “won”, we wouldn’t be in the mess we are today. That seems kind of important to me, and so does preserving a justice system that prosecutes crimes committed by the president, vice president and all congressmen.

    Don’t get me wrong, I have always voted for Democrats, but it is important for me to remain an independent. I want to be in the remain in the group that neither party represents, because that is exactly how I feel. Maybe both parties will start to change their values to appeal the disenchanted people like myself. One thing is certain, the Democratic Party, for me, is as much a part of the problem as the Republicans. Your solution is that I should become a Democrat and attempt to change the party from within? When was the last time you joined a group you didn't like?

  • LT (unverified)

    Choose your battles. The most rewarding and effective campaigns I worked on were the ones which operated with a grass roots aspect. The local/legislative campaigns were run locally (not on orders from a central office somewhere). The presidential campaign (and I was a national convention delegate)was run by a 3 person standing committee in this state, one of whom was a friend of the candidate's family. That campaign drew many people into party politics for the several years--and those people did have an effect on the Oregon Democratic Party.

    If someone wants to crusade on an issue in another part of the country (like verifiable votes in Ohio and Florida) that is fine. But I think it is better to be part of a local organization--and believe me I have been in groups where there was healthy debate and people didn't agree on everything or take orders on what to support---and get good people elected locally. Local and legislative office provide "farm team" for higher office.

  • CAM (unverified)

    So go ahead and pooh-pooh the notion that the election of the president was rigged, but to me, you’re just another part of the problem.

    That's right, when reality fails, blame neo-progressive failures on a conspiracy or two.

    Florida was real, but it was not the several hundred hanging chads in Dade County. It was the thousands of African-Americans who were turned away from the ballot box, and were then ignored and dismissed by the Democratic Party that was more concerned with pandering to neo-progressive elitist desires than an impoverished and disenfranchised base.

    During the last election cycle I heard from many on the fringe left who so badly wanted what happened in Florida to happen here in Oregon. Many protests and public displays were held, letters were written, hopes were high. Sadly, they were disappointed when it did not happen here. Many who wanted to believe the election was somehow "stolen" went to Ohio to bring back the "truith" of how a state that always votes Republican (unless there was a compelling reason not to) could actually vote Republican. All came back empty-handed.

    Not one of them figured it could have been an uninspiring candidate, a campaign that was run by a bunch of losers who put forth a crappy message, and a repeatedly failed strategy driven by neo-progressive elitists who on their best day could never understand what it is like to be working-class, much less connect with them. Nobody figued that in a battle between two Yale-educated alumni, over half of American voters would rather dance with the devil they knew than dance with the devil they did not.

    I learned a long time ago that no matter how you try to spin it, Republicans do not win elections; Democrats lose them. Just another flimsy excuse for failure when there really is no excuse for failure; just more symbolism over substance, more empty rhetoric over concrete results.

    The neo-progressive philosophy and influence over the Democratic Party is no longer valid and it is no longer wanted. I suggest that if you truly want to continue obsessing over national politics, then by all means hook up with one of those neo-progressive associations or parties. You should be welcomed there with open arms and be free to devote the rest of your life planning your next conspiracy excuse. Just leave the Democratic Party to Democrats and those of us who truly want concrete substance over empty symbolism and know how to get things done.

  • glenlivid (unverified)

    "Just leave the Democratic Party to Democrats and those of us who truly want concrete substance over empty symbolism and know how to get things done."

    Seems to be working for you so far, doesn't it?

    Like I said, read the Conyers report on Ohio. I don't know what traveling bands of researchers you dispatched to Ohio, but it probably doesn’t carry the weight of an investigation by a United States Senator (but it seems your mind is already made up on the issue).

    In case you get an ounce of intellectual curiosity, here’s a blog devoted to the subject of what went wrong in Ohio.

    My point isn't to argue ideology with you; seems like we're pretty much on the same side. The big difference between the two of us is I am not willing to look the other way the criminal behavior of this administration, and I certainly don't see how you can win elections against people that steal them.

    BTW, about this: "During the last election cycle I heard from many on the fringe left who so badly wanted what happened in Florida to happen here in Oregon. Many protests and public displays were held, letters were written, hopes were high. Sadly, they were disappointed when it did not happen here."

    I really don't know what you are talking about.

  • CAM (unverified)

    I really don't know what you are talking about.

    Precisely my point.

  • Jim Chaney (unverified)

    The response to my guest piece in the Register Guard has been gratifying, and fascinating, to say the least. There is simply no way that I can respond to or comment on each of the comments above, but I'll hit some high points.

    First, I'm now a registered Democrat, for two reasons. First, I think that it's just foolish to throw away an opportunity to vote in a closed primary state, and for voters like me who just can't bear to have an R next to their names anymore, that really leaves just one very practical choice. Second, and more important, the Democratic Party is the party with the big tent now, as the string above shows. There's a lot of diversity here, and my former party started systematically killing diversity and dissent some time ago. I'm pro-choice, pro-business, pro-internationalist, and a rabid defender of personal freedom from government intrusion where it doesn't belong. I get the sense that I won't get pilloried for any of those views here. That's not true in the GOP anymore.

    Second, I agree that the time is absolutely ripe for the Democratic Party to invite people like me into the tent. I hate to disagree too strongly with the third party proponents above, but the ashheap of third party aspirants is pretty high these days. Nader's embarrassing failure to even get on the Oregon ballot in 2004 is only the most recent example; I'm old enough to remember Jesse Ventura, Ross Perot, John Anderson, and George Wallace. The choice for people like me is to either change the GOP from the inside, or take power from the GOP through the Democratic Party, and the first choice is simply impossible. That party is to the point that only repeated cataclysmic failure at the ballot box will change anything.

    Now, to put my proverbial money where my mouth is: to anyone who asks what I plan to do about it, I'll make an open offer. I'll do anything I can, to convince anyone I can -- within reason, of course -- that by continuing with this GOP in control of all three branches of Federal government, we're making a national mistake of monstrous proportions which demands action. I obviously can't spend a day on the phone with everybody's stubborn neighbor -- my wife and I have a son to put through college, with another one in the on deck circle, so I still need to work -- but I'm planning on writing and speaking and going on the radio whenever I can and wherever I can to share the details of my own political metamorphosis.

    I've already appeared as a guest on progressive radio in Eugene and Portland, made a lengthy appearance on the CORUS radio network across Canada, and spent almost three hours in the purgatory of conservative talk radio on WRKO-AM in Boston, and I'm not dead yet.

    I'm not running for anything, and I don't have a book to sell ... but I do want to make a difference, and I'd like to think that I have a window of opportunity to help. I'm open to suggestions; feel free to make any which you might have.

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