Saturday, January 31, 2009

The Problem With Oregon Republicans, Part 1

So, you're in a state that, through the years that mattered the most in the 20th Century, was reliably, almost (you'll excuse the hoary old term) "rock-ribbed" Republican. Perhaps the most famous and beloved Governor in your state's history–the great Tom McCall–was a Republican. Some of the most honorable modern public servance in the state's recent history–men like Vic Atiyeh–were Republican.

And people liked you!

But recently you and your party succumbed to the sweet, sweet song that the national party did: win at all costs, treat Democrats like the evil you deep down know that you are. Boy, that reactionism is to the political sould like Red Bull.

You get majorities in the state house. You make it impossible for those evil Democrats (who were once your neighbors you just disagreed with; now you see them for what they are–sinister invaders from God-knows-where) to get anything done. You put someone from the entrepreneur class of Portland conservatives in charge of the State House of Representatives who takes pride in shutting down anything she doesn't like. You let Representatives run around telling lies about and attacking the public employee unions (who serve him even though he loathes them).

For about 10 years, it works just fine. The people drink the Kool Aid and are sure that you've found the cause to the Oregon's ills, all forgetting the famous dictum of H.R. Mencken that said:

There is always a well-known solution to every human problem--neat, plausible, and wrong.

And you've been selling them that solution. It sold like hotcakes. Success was on the horizon for as far as the blinkered eye could see.

But eventually the population tired of the budgets that never quite supplied the needs their taxes paid for and got tired of the Legislature that never worked and tired of the Kool Aid because, after more than 10 years of drinking it, the taste had gone real sour.

In 2008, you have no candidates for major office with a hope of winning. In 2009, all state offices belong to The Evil Democrats, including one occupied by a man who used to be one of you.

The handwriting's on the wall. You're in a hole. What do you do? Keep digging? Or admit to yourself that maybe you've gone down the wrong path, one that's made you a minority party with a multi-hundred-thousand-dollar debt, few prospects, and the laughing-stock of Oregon politics, with The Enemy having a supermajority in the Oregon State Senate?

Ah, if you've not been following this story and you figure the answer is to stop diggin' that hole, you haven't sampled the fine, heady wine that is the intellectual treasury of Oregon Republicans today.

I give it away, of course, but will provide the answer and expand on that thought in Part 2, coming up next.

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