Back To Reality

Anne Martens

Oregon: We love dreamers. We couldn't have picked a worse campaign slogan. Oh, I know, it's not really a campaign slogan, but it may as well be in this post-partisan gubernatorial showdown. Oregonians have been spinning in ether and flinging about a multitude of dreamy "boy, wouldn't it be neat" if's.

Boy, wouldn't it be neat if we didn't have a two party system. Nevermind that we do. Nevermind that the system is structurally set up as a two party system and the revolution ain't happening in our lifetimes. Nevermind that even if we didn't have a two party system, we would still have to get to a majority in order to govern, and then there would still be a majority and a minority even if you labeled them something other then Democrats and Republicans.

I don't think the two party system is the greatest thing in the world, but it's what we've got, and if we're going to work the system then we have to work in the system. I'm a Democrat because I agree with that party's fundamental beliefs more often than I agree with Republicans, and I want to be able to vote in the party primary to choose what candidates will step up for the party that I've chosen. I don't think this makes me a sheep, or beholden to the boogeyman of partisan politics, I think it makes me active and interested and willing to participate.

Boy, wouldn't it be neat if we had an open top-two primary. Boy, won't that be the magic bullet that will end partisanship. Nevermind that it excludes all minority parties. Nevermind that it protects incumbents and rewards candidates with big bucks who can spend as much on the primary as they spend on the general. Nevermind that it's probably unconstitutional. And nevermind that it's biggest fan, Phil Keisling, and most of the electeds that endorsed it, would not have been elected under its constraints.

The type of primary election system we use does not cause partisanship. Changing the primary system to magnify the role of money, disenfranchise minority parties and limit voters choices will not end partisanship.

Boy, wouldn't it be neat if an "independent" candidate like Ben Westlund would make us feel all warm and fuzzy about being above partisan politics. Nevermind that Ben has always been a Republican. Nevermind that if he draws from Ted, we end up with a Republican governor (be that Saxton or Mannix). Nevermind that even if he wins, he still has to deal with a legislature full of a Republican party that he betrayed and a Democratic party that he looted, neither of whom are going to be itchin' to cooperate.

Even after two explosive impacts with Nader, Democrats still can't seem to get the bull sperm out of their eyes. Careful, that causes tearing and discharge.

Boy, wouldn't it be neat if the Democratic candidate was as crazy liberal as you and me. I'm going to break form here for emphasis. Ted has not been my favorite governor. I think he missed some serious opportunities, but I also think people don't give him credit for the good things he's done. That said, this Democratic primary is not about who's going to win, it's about how we look coming out of it. Jim Hill and Pete Sorenson are neat, they're smart people, they're good Democrats, but they're not going to win. You could log a protest vote under the theory of "boy, wouldn't it be neat if Ted were more like Jim and Pete," but that's only going to hurt our chances for keeping Republicans out of statewide office. There's some magic number, and I don't know what it is, between the headline that says, "Unpopular Governor Limps Out Of Primary," and the headline that says, "Kulongoski Makes Strong Showing In Primary." That first headline drags us down to a Republican governor; the second means our state has a Democratic future.

I would like for Oregon to remain part of the reality-based community. I believe that it's important that we have a Democratic governor, even if Kulongoski is just a guy who's trying to do what's best for the state and not the Platonic ideal of a Democratic governor. I hope that we can all clear our vision, get grounded, take account of the system we have, and vote like we want to win.

  • John Mulvey (unverified)

    I'll take issue with your point about needing to support Ted in order to keep the governorship in the fall: If you're concerned about getting the most electable candidate against the Republicans, you wouldn't be supporting Ted of all people. He barely won against Mannix four years ago, and has lost support since then. And according to the Zogby poll (which was linked elsewhere at BlueOregon), either of the other candidates would do as good as Ted against any of the Republican candidates. Handing Ted the nomination in the interest of unity is a formula for a Republican win. John

  • Christy (unverified)

    Thanks for the dose of pragmatism, Anne. Sometimes, it is lacking in these parts. Ted Kulongoski is unpopular with a lot of folks, including myself. That $4 billion suggested schools budget pretty much ruined him for me. But, I will be voting for him because I think that he has the best chance of defeating the Republican nominee. Mannix, if he wins the primary, will likely lose to any Democrat with all of the fiscal scandals he attracts and moderates he probably scares. But, pair Saxton with Westlund (who I would probably vote for in the general if the Democratic nominee was a shoe-in), and progressives in this state are going to be fighting a tough battle. After watching the debates, I think Ted is clearly the best nominee for the general election. I don't care what Zogby's says.

    I will take risks with my vote on occasion, but not when the stakes are this high and the alternatives so frightening. A Republican governor with a Minnis house is enough to keep me voting for Kulongoski and giving some serious time to Rob Brading this fall.

  • scott (unverified)

    I happen to be for an open primary as it will allow independents (and increasing population) to vote in the primary and I plan to vote for Kulongoski even though I think there are plenty of things he could have done better but I think you have overlooked a possibly bigger threat than either Mannix or Saxton and that's Atkinson. He's got the attention of a lot of Southern, Central & Eastern Oregonians simply because he's a hometown boy who isn't from the city. He's playing nice and he's letting Mannix and Saxton throw the mud, mostly at each other. Don't let his fresh face fool you, he's a lot more dangerous than he looks.

  • LT (unverified)

    In order to be "grounded" it is important to remember what happened 10 years ago.

    If the "vote for him even if you have to hold your nose" was as effective as some would have us believe, Gordon Smith wouldn't have been elected in Nov. 1996--it would have been a Bruggere victory.

    If being a "good Democrat" means unquestioning support for the primary winner even if it is Ted and he keeps saying "I'm doing what needs to be done, so don't ask any questions" as he has been doing this year, I'll re-register NAV after the primary and watch the debate from the sidelines.

    We deserve POLICY DEBATE in this year's Gov. election. If that means Westlund because no one else talks details and relates to the ordinary lives of people, then maybe Westlund deserves the support of those who are unhappy with the tone of the current incumbent's campaign.

    And if that is not "pragmatic" then explain why the 1996 DSCC campaign (supported "Kerrey Millionaires" in several states, and the ones who won their primaries lost in the general) didn't succeed. I am tired of hearing that "pragmatic" means "put your mind in neutral and support who you are told to support".

  • Eric Berg (unverified)

    Nevermind that over half-million Oregonians are registered to vote as neither Democrats or Republicans.

    Nevermind that this number would be much higher if Oregon didn't have a closed primary.

    Nevermind that many Oregonians re-registered as non-affliated this year because Republicans and Democrats in the legislature decided that if you vote in the primary as a Democrat or Republican, your signature supporting an independent candidate or the Working Families Party doesn't count.

    Nevermind that the partisan non-cooperation represented in "a legislature full of a Republican party that he betrayed and a Democratic party that he looted, neither of whom are going to be itchin' to cooperate" is what, he, Ben Westlund, can hold up as an example when he says "Extreme paralyzing partisanship is keeping us from addressing, much less solving the problems facing Oregon. Without leaders dedicated to working across the aisle, without leaders dedicated to the next generation rather than the next election, without leaders….. we will continue to spiral into mediocrity and below."

    Nevermind that Wayne Morse was first elected as a Republican, too.

    Nevermind that no one who supports an open primary has ever said it's "the magic bullet that will end partisanship."

    Nevermind a majority of Democrats and Republicans vote for candidates belonging to the other party.

    Nevermind that neither party supports campaign finance reform so "candidates with big bucks who can spend as much on the primary as they spend on the general" won't be allowed to do so.

    Nevermind that there's a reason progressives are no longer Democrats and/or voted for Ralph Nader in 2000.

    Nevermind that about one-in-five Oregonains voted for Ross Perot in 1992.

    Nevermind that most Americans support most the ideals in the Democratic Party platform, but the Democratic Party isn't even competive in 30 or so states in national elections. Nevermind that the Democratic Party doesn't seem to care.

    Nevermind that it's o.k. to stand for something, even if you lose doing it considering you also lose when you don't stand for anything or can't do much when you win because you didn't stand for anything when you ran.

    Nevermind that, as someone who was active in the Young Democrats of Oregon before I was old enough to vote and was a Democratic Party precinct committeeperson in three Oregon counties, I am no longer registered as a Democrat. Nevermind that I'm as "active and interested and willing to participate" as ever.

    Never mind that there's a reason Martin Luther King "I have a dream" and not "I would like for the United States to remain part of the reality-based community."

  • JHL (unverified)

    Man, it's a good thing we didn't defer to that kind of thinking when we were debating civil rights...

    I think the "we might as well learn to live with partisanship because we've learned to live with partisanship" argument is just about the most circular bit of logic I've ever heard.

    I know it's campy and hokey, but let's remember: We are a nation born of political revolution and public innovation -- especially more so for Oregon. It's part of our heritage to embrace it... but more importantly, it's part of our rights to explore it, and it is part of our civic duty to excercize that right when we feel the current government is no longer an effective form of representation.

    To simply go along with things because "that's the way they've always been" is the most conservative argument in existence. Anyone who's in favor of labor rights, civil rights, gay rights... any progressive advances in the past 500 years... should be chilled at that argument.

    If you want to vote strategically or if you feel well represented, that's one thing. But to throw up you arms and say, "I'm not happy, but oh well" is a horrible idea.

  • FP (unverified)

    Eric Berg says: "Nevermind that there's a reason progressives are no longer Democrats and/or voted for Ralph Nader in 2000."

    Yes, it is because they clearly do not care about any of the issues that they claim to. If the purpose of politics is organizing w/ your fellow citizens to enact public policy, then they can be thanked for:

    Chief Justice John Roberts Justice Samuel Alito Interior Secretaries Norton and Kempthorne Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfield Labor Secretary Elaine Chao Attorney Generals Ashcroft and "Torture" Gonzales FEMA director Michael Brown

    a minimum wage stuck at $5.15

    prescription drug bill written by PHARMA

    no updating of fuel efficiency standards

    a revised Clean Air Act written by polluters

    an FDA that ignores its own scientists to prevent access to contraceptives

    NASA scientists threatened w/ losing their jobs if they publish evidence of global warming

    taxpayer dollars being used to subsidize Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson

    exciting new precedents like: detaining American citizens indefinitely while denying them access to counsel and wiretapping American citizens w/out a warrant

    I'm too tired to continue.

    But, I'll say this. Eric Berg may or may not be a schmuck, I don't know him. That having been said, anyone who supported Nader in 2000 is absolutely culpable in everything I mentioned above.

    Anne Martens is 99% correct, except for that radically anti-Oregon position she took earlier - her desire to lay off thousands of freedom-loving and hard working gas station attendants.

  • Reality? (unverified)

    Sign me up for hope - The current reality is that schools are overcrowded, thousands have no health care, our rivers have made the top 3 list of the most threatened in the nation, our air is polluted (remember those air advisories in the middle of winter? This is Oregon for God's sake.) higher ed is at the bottom of funding. This is not the reality I want for myself or my kids.

    Voting based on today's reality has led me to another choice. Jim Hill.

  • Jamie (unverified)

    I'm proud to live in a state where dreamers have a place, and where pragmatism is seen a one, but not the only, frame of reference.

  • Antifederalist (unverified)

    1789: Those revolutionaries clearly do not care about the issues they profess to. We can blame them for devalued currency, a crippling embargo, and authoritarian sedition acts. We should have been content to choose our delegates to His Majesty's colonies. Instead, we were foolhardy enough to try and chase an unattainable dream of Democratic government. Woe is us.

  • askquestions1st (unverified)

    Anne - Although I disagree with you on VBM, I agree with your opposition to the Open Primary. I think it bears some thought what it means, if anything, that Keisling is the sponsor of both. (I happen to think it does means something because Keisling was such a poor elected.)

    I disagree with you about the need to support Ted in the primary, precisely because he is the kind of Dem who lacks leadership qualities that have cost us so much power in this country. Quite frankly, he is in way over his head in the office, people know it, and regardless of how he does in the primary he, on his own, will "inspire" people to just not vote unless he somehow miraculously metamorphizes into a leader over the next few months. That's his fault and failure alone.

    Although a lot can change, right now it looks like in a three-way primary Kulongoski could lose because Hill could be the spoiler for him. Kulongoski apologists do no service to the state or the Democratic/Progressive cause by trying to harass Hill or Sorenson supporters into voting for a candidate who is neither capable, nor seems particularly interested in earning their repect and votes.

    Eric -

    As much as I honestly wanted to find a message in what you wrote, I'm afraid I just couldn't. In all earnestness, what exactly is your point?

    JHL -

    Westlund's tax plan and entire platform favors corporations and the rich above working people. Although he seems to have the ego, he obviously lacks the skill to lead his own party that shares those core values, and so he blames everything on "partisanship" and makes taxes and partisanship 2 of his 4 campaign issues. Boy, that's really the kind of "leader" we need in the state house.

    FP -

    One problem with your analysis. Although I voted for Gore in 2000 and tried to persuade folks not to vote for Nader because it was apparent the election would be close, there seems to be scant evidence the Nader voters would have supported Gore in 2000 if Nader hadn't run rather than stay home. In all seriousness, and not trying to be challenging, if you can point to analyses arguing the contrary I'd be appreciative.

  • Chuck Butcher (unverified)

    Possibly the most important election in the cycle is the Primary, that's where you get to choose who runs. Independents have abrogated that choice and thus get to vote for people chosen by someone else. You cannot get change if you do not participate and the Independent voter probably has something real to say, except he doesn't get to say it. It sooooo hard to put a "D" or "R" after your name. Oh well for you, and too bad for the candidate you might have nominated. I suppose the principled stand of, "you're all too bad to support," is worth being marginalized. Thanks, Chuck

  • (Show?)

    We are all dumb as dirt if we allow a Republican into the governor's office. The PERS system is back on track because of Ted's concern/courage/good policy for all Oregonians. Read 4/28/06 "O" article by Betsy Hammond. Under the old PERS projections employers would have a 21% increase in retirement benefits. That is all money that would have been taken from classrooms, human services and health care in the next 2 years, all $600 million. What's not to like about the 5th fastest growing economy in the nation? What's not to like about a governor who introduced anti- discrimination legislature for gays and lesbions back in the 70's when he was in the state legislature? I like Ted because he wants businesses to give back the kicker to support our schools. But hey, split the votes and you get a Republican.

    In today's "O" David Sorenson wrote, " All three Republican candidates have eagerly taken up the illegal immigration issue. Saxton has said children of illegal immigrants should be taken out of schools. All three Republican candidates refuse to deal with the dependence on the income tax, the kicker, the lack of a rainy day fund and the initiative process that can overturn any planning."

  • JHL (unverified)

    Paulie -- Kulongoski is not going to win in November. There's no Tom Cox in the race. There will be no upset in Deschutes County. The Democratic labor turnout will not get a boost from payday loan issues.

    Yes, we're all familiar with Kulo's big talking points:

    1. 5th fastest-growing economy. Thanks to Alan Greenspan.
    2. Great work in the 70's on civil rights. Hooray -- 30 years ago.
    3. Vote for me or the boogeyman Republican will get you! Well, I just can't in good conscience vote for somebody whose entire campaign seems to be based on a veiled threat. It's almost like the Democratic mafioso is campaigning for him... shaking people down for their vote by putting the sins of any future administration squarely on their shoulders. Well, I'm not voting for a Governor who passes the buck like that.
  • LT (unverified)

    Ask, here is a question: Westlund's tax plan and entire platform favors corporations and the rich above working people. is pretty vague.

    Westlund was not the only sponsor of SB 382. Are you saying all the sponsors of that bill favor corporations and the rich over working people?

    And exactly where in SB 382 do you find your information? Westlund's website says of SB 382 that, among other things it would "cut income taxes and capital gains in half, offered renter relief and an earned income credit for our most vulnerable ".

    Exactly how does that hurt working people?

    Or is that a question Ask can't answer?

  • Mari Anne (unverified)

    Those saying Ted is our only hope for a Democrat to take the November election should track Survey USA. Kulongoski has dropped from 36% approval rate to 33% in the last month and has gone from 45th least popular governor in the US to 48th. The bottom of the barrel.

    Ted can't win with these numbers in November! Jim Hill has been elected statewide twice, has labor and environmental support and can win in November! Time to change our reality.

  • (Show?)

    Hilarious JHL, where was Alan Greenspan when Governor Kulongoski took on Arnold and negotiated with Amy's Kitchen to expand to Medford,Oregon rather than remain in CA? Here is an economic development primer for ya'. Each region of Oregon has economic development officers who work closely with counties/towns to assist them in growing economically. Those officers report to some honchos in the Economic Development department. A couple of those honchos report to the governor. Literlly hundreds of towns and cities across America are in constant competition for the next Lowe's distribution center, or Carnival Cruise office center, or GenenTech or Keene Shoes or Google, Yahoo, or MathStar to locate in their state because jobs will follow. Towns will flourish, taxes get paid to support schools and human services. When the companies narrow to 2 or 3 sites, one of which is in Oregon, it is Kulongoski who closes the deal. Literally hundreds of hours are invested in growing Oregon since Kulongoski took office. Turning Oregon's economy from the worst in the nation to the 5th fastest growing economy in the nation, didn't happen in other states, it happened here because of a clear vision for rescuing Oregon. The point about Kulongoski supporting civil rights and anti-discrimination legislation since the 70's, is his entire career has been about assisting working people. His support for labor and unions are on the record. He's not getting busted for coke or changing his messages based on who he talks to, he's been pro-reproductive rights forever. He's not the candidate who wants to pull children of illegal immigrants out of school, or wants tax breaks for businesses, or wants to perserve the corporate kicker, or wants to back bigger harvests of federal and state forestlands. Ron Saxton calls the Oregon Health Plan broken, he wants to reduce it by 10%. Mannix is critical of any services to illegal immigrants in one speech and supports the illegal immigrants in the next. Atkinson is long on platitudes and short on any actual plans. Westlund is still a Republican, running as an Independent. I will not make any predictions about November. I do predict that each of us must vote with as much information as we can find.

  • JTT (unverified)

    Paulie- Don't you have a school to run, or are you blogging during working hours?

  • LT (unverified)

    Just got a recorded campaign message from the incumbent Gov.

    For those who have been debating how Ted pronounces his last name, the call (in Ted's voice) begins Hello, this is Gov.... Phonetically, the way he pronounces his name is Gov. Kul on gah ski.

    No W in it, for those who are tempted to write it that way.

  • NotLT (unverified)

    Thank you for the pronounciation lesson.

    Now please teach me what exactly does this mean: "Even after two explosive impacts with Nader, Democrats still can't seem to get the bull sperm out of their eyes. Careful, that causes tearing and discharge."

    Bull sperm? in the eyes?

    Did Sen Ben's bull shoot his wad all over Ralph? What was Ralph doing to the bull that made the bull respond in such a fashion?

  • askquestions1st (unverified)

    LT -

    Please be honest when you try to attack people and summarize what they said accurately. What I said is that Westlund's tax plan favors corporation and the rich. The defense of this was documented in another thread and you ignored them then so your challenge is more than a bit disingenuous. However, they are worth repeating here for others:

    According to his website at the time this was written and his bill, under his tax plan:

    a) the inheritance tax would be eliminated for estates up to $2mil through 2009, increasing up to $3.5mil in 2009 to 2010.

    b) folks making $35K would pay 2.2% of their household income in sales tax while those making $125K would pay only 1.5%.

    c) folks making $35K would experience a net tax savings of 0.3% while those making $125K would experience a net tax savings of 0.6%. Folks making $35K are less likely to own their own home and when one factors out property tax relief they would in fact experience a net tax increase of 0.4%!

    d) presumably the increase in the earned income tax credit is factored into the 0.3% net tax savings expected for folks making $35K and would be appropriately reflected for lower incomes.

    d) cap capital gains a 4% (he claims this is a 50% cut). Capital gains are colloquially referred to as "unearned income", and the further one goes down the economic scale a person is, the less on average capital gains represent of one's income.

    e) sales taxes apparently would be assessed on utility bills and apartment rent (the law is unspecific on this, but it does say "as exemptions must be specific" and these items are not exempted)

    f) on my read I could only find provisions for rental relief for the elderly, and not for the working age taxpayers regardless of income.

    So except for the rental relief for the elderly, everyone of these key provisions favors corporations or the rich or both at the expense of working people.

    And Westlund claims that the sales tax will recover so much lost revenue from those "tax cheats" Republicans like him claim are overrunning the state and country, that somehow everyone will save on their taxes but the state will experience a net gain in revenue. If he is wrong, the burden of the shortfall will fall even heavier on folks down the economic scale in the form of lost services, education cutbacks, and increases in other fees and taxes.

    And yes LT, all sponsors of the bill either favor corporations or the rich, or they wouldn't have sponsored the bill because that is what it does. Or they may just be ignorant. I'll leave it to them and their supporters to prove which or both is true.

  • anonymous (unverified)

    I'm supporting the governor after the primary, and I'll probably vote for him in the primary, but Anne is simply wrong to trot out the old "vote for Kulongoski in the primary because if you don't it'll hurt our chances in the general election". Frankly, that argument is shite, and poor strategy insofar as those kinds of threats are more likely to erode support rather than build it.

    As for LT's comments ... I've raised several concerns about Westlund's tax plan in another thread. When I did so, you said that it was an attempt to divert attention away from Westlund's campaign.

    You want to talk policy, fine. Just don't cut-and-run when you are asked to take a tough look at your guy's policy.

    Is this a distraction from considering the Central Oregon man running as an independent?

    Westlund is proposing a regressive personal income tax (1.5 percent for those making $125k versus 2.25 percent for those making $35k; a 20 percent reduction on capital gains; an increase in exemptions from $1.5 million to $3.5 million for estate taxes; and his sales tax is regressive insofar as it includes prepared foods and many basic items such as cleaning suppplies, diapers, and other sundries that will take a bigger bite out of working families than from the wealthy.

    <h2>If you want to talk specifics, fine. Please tell me why I should support a Republican former Republican who is proposing a tax system that hits the working poor much harder than it hits the wealthy.</h2>

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