No stifling democracy

T.A. Barnhart

Republican Senate Leader Ted Ferrioli of John Day predicts Democrats who wanted to control both chambers of the Legislature also will find it a challenge now that they got what they wanted.

"The problem is to keep those people stifled and in line and quiet," he says. "They won't go for it for long."

(Oregonian, Jan 2, 2007)

"...stifled and in line and quiet...". That's the GOP way to run a government, of course: from the top down. Whether it's Karen Minnis or Tom Delay, the concept of democracy has no place in their governance of government. Ferrioli clearly endorses this mindset; if he were running the Oregon Senate, he'd not only have a closed caucus, his would be silent save only for his voice telling the minions what they were to do.

And we've seen just how well that strategy works.

What we have to get used to ("we" being Democrats and the indies who support us) is coping with the kind of diversity the Oregonian article deals with. Whether in Oregon or nationally, the Dems are a weird-ass mix of people. Pick an issue, find a dozen Dem perspectives on it — and all of them equally legitimate (ok, anti-choice: not so much, but that's only my opinion ... and there is the problem all over again). I am sure there will be times when Kate Brown or Jeff Merkely (or Reid or Pelosi) will long for the kind of clout Delay (or, in another era, LBJ) wielded, but I'm also confident that at the end of the day, they'll be happy enough living with the disputes and possible chaos. They damn sure better be.

Because, after all, it's democracy we're talking about. Democracy gets messy, not because it's a bad system but because it involves human beings and all the different beliefs they have about life, the government and everything. Ferrioli might believe it's good government to keep the back-benchers in line and rule like the Big Man. I'm much happier with leaders who work with, and not against, the diversity, who view it as one of the key strengths our of system, and who celebrate democracy, no matter how messy.

  • (Show?)

    Any thoughts on why Oregonians In Action (the pro-Measure 37 folks) would have given $5000 (over 3x what they gave any other candidate in that cycle) to the Ferrioli campaign last summer, when Ferrioli's seat was not even up for election?

    C & E report available here.

    Just curious.

  • Pete Jacobsen (unverified)

    Sure, messy democracy is appealing to folks who are deep into politics. It doesn't necessarily LOOK appealing to the folks whose involvement is little more than noticing the news and voting every couple of years. I do think Ferroli's statement may just be talking about the wrong "those people". We may have a problem in a couple years (but let's have fun while we can!)

  • TomCat (unverified)

    The lock-step "my way or the highway" way to conduct government, where representatives need to toe the party line is Bushivism. Messy government isn't as pretty, but the decisions made represent all, not just the GOP's special interests.

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    Ted Ted Ferrioli is the Larry Campbell of the Senate. He's a old-fashioned "fixer." He gets money from OIA because he uses timber industry clout to say who gets confirmed to the LCDC, Fish and Wildlife Commission, etc. Any organization that wants to use the Senate conformation to control who regulates them must contribute to Ferrioli, who in turn gives the money to other Senators for their campaigns in exchange for their votes.

    That's indeed how Ferrioli kept his troops "stifled and in line and quiet."

    TA is right. It was, among other things, the Republicans undoing. Ferrioli will not be so influential in the minority, but you can bet he will refine the art of tossing grenades into anything the Ds want to do -- unless his constituency gets fed up with his obstructionism. There's little press coverage of Ferrioli's partisan antics in his hometown press and he getrs a free ride.

  • JHL (unverified)

    While I agree with Mr. Barnhart in the sense that "Democracy gets messy," (and it should) I think Ferrioli's quote is spot-on straight talk. Though Ferrioli could have been more tactful, the Democrats in the legislature sure do wish that they had the kind of party cohesion (and yes, stifled and in-line members) that the Republicans have.

    Let's not live in a fantasyland where the House Democrats are planning on running some kind of open-house policy carnival all session long. There are many things that many Democrats (TA included, I'm sure) simply will not accept policy-wise from their fellow D's.

    As for Ferrioli running a closed caucus... Gee, does that remind you of any other senate caucus? Two sides of the same coin, people. I like the D's more, but let's not pretend they're in a completely different ballpark.

  • Zak J. (unverified)

    Ferrioli could have been more tactful, but he put his finger on a real problem, and one the GOP hasn't dealt with very successfully: how to sideline the shrill visionaries with loony pet projects; such as (to cite a few GOP examples) outlawing the morning after pill and other family planning measures, refusing federal money for stem cell research, stripping a spouse of the legal right to terminate life support for his brain-dead wife, criminalizing intimacy between consenting adults, teaching biblical creation stories in biology classes, privitizing Social Security, giving away federal resources for pennies on the dollar, gutting public school funding and insisting scarce resources be spent on non-productive testing to demonstrate failure to attain impossible performance goals, or forbidding collective bargaining to keep down prescription drug prices. Yes, by all means, keep these party-wreckers "...stifled and in line and quiet..."

    I view Ferrioli's as good advice given by who has suffered long and wishes to graciously share the wisdom of his hard-won experience. Listen well!

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    "Bushivism"? How soon we forget. Here's a pop quiz for you: who said: "To get along you have to go along"?

    Hint: a famous Democratic speaker of the House.

    A certain level of party discipline is necessary to get things done, especially if you are running a relatively balanced legislature. If the Democrats don't recognize this, they'll be an ineffective majority.

  • LT (unverified)

    "A certain level of party discipline"? Does that mean deciding everything out of public view? Exactly what does that mean--that the caucus is more important than concerns of constitutents? Isn't that what Republicans did?

    If the ideas are worthwhile, members will vote for them. If any party is stupid enough to say all legislation is based on decisions made inside closed caucus and visiting constitutents are told "you're just voters", then we should drop the parties and have nonpartisan legislature.

  • BlueNote (unverified)

    Freedom means no loyalty to anybody for anything. Or, as Janis Jolpin said, freedom means nothing left to lose.

    People who throw their bodies on grenades to stop the war in Iraq deserve my respect. People who position themselves to become political advisers to Hillary (bomb the brown people) Clinton deserve to die a horrible painful death, just like the women and children in Iraq do every day.

    Saddam died for his country. What have you done for yours?

    Stop the war NOW.

  • Benito Mussolini (unverified)

    "Saddam died for his country."

    Oh. My. Goodness.

    I seriously don't know what to say to this except that I'm glad Saddam got what he got even though it was a patently unfair trial.

    <h2>Stop making it easy for the conservatives to paint Democrats as terror-loving moonbats, you moonbat!</h2>

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