Reflections on the election in Oregon and beyond
Recently America went through a cataclysmic, near-seismic transformation with 68 state legislatures, 32 governorships, 69 congressional seats and eight to nine U.S. Senate seats going to the Grand Old Party in midterm elections. These were historic shifts not seen since the Herbert Hoover and Harry Truman eras.The people spoke loud and clear: "We want change."
No greater philosophic changes were made domestically or internationally than during the New Deal period, until now. America's soul, traditions and institutions are still inextricably connected to the goings on in 1776 and 1787 and, though the colleges and universities teach more of the economic theories of Karl Marx than Adam Smith, Americans prefer the Scotsman over the German. The people trumpeted with a resounding rejection of our direction by saying stop, enough is enough.
However, Oregon is an exception to the national trend. Gov. John Kitzhaber beat Rep. Dennis Richardson 50-43 despite the consultant scandal with his fiancee, Cynthia Hayes, and the Cover Oregon debilitating debacle with a price tag of at least $300 million. Kitzhaber campaigned as though he had indigestion and was incognito the last days of the race so as not to be questioned by an inquisitive press.
As predicted, and also reversing the national trend, Jeff Merkley was re-elected to the U.S. Senate by a wide margin, as his inexperienced opponent Dr. Monica Wehby only garnered 38 percent of the vote. Her issues were boilerplate establishment Republicanism, taking her cues from others unsuccessfully.
Locally, Republicans were heartbroken and Democrats were ecstatic at the Bates/Dotterer gladiator outcome of 51 percent to 44 percent.
Senator Bates has an iconic following here in Southern Oregon and has obtained the trust of many voters and personalities with considerable heft. Dave Dotterer is a man with high integrity running a sterling campaign, who allowed the goal to cloud his better angels when it came to outside advertisements, over which candidates have little control and lots of control.
The story is always the same, but others with special interests cannot and should not speak as concisely and forthrightly as those running for office. Senator Bates had to apologize for ads and Colonel Dotterer got caught between a rock and a hard place over his ads' questionable tenor. Constituents were turned off by the impressions on TV and the Colonel's 282-vote loss four years ago was increased by almost a factor of 16. We hope the good colonel will not just fade away, as the good General MacArthur famously said.
Rick Dyer and Colleen Roberts won their respective county commissioner races with Dyer pulling away from three other candidates. For a while it looked as if Dyer and two others would split the Republican vote, electing Democrat Tonia Moro, but that did not happen because of the personality and tenacity of Dyer. He sold himself to an electorate that knows a good thing when they see it.
Colleen, on the other hand, beat her opponent Kevin Talbert handily with no help from three Republican commissioners, one retired. Commissioners Skundrick, Rachor and Smith were funded, supported and encouraged by the GOP in their elections, Smith many times. However, for some reason they chose to support the Democrat transformed into an Independent over the Republican Roberts. Of course sour grapes had nothing to do with it, but the least they could have concocted was neutrality, just like George Washington said about foreign policy, to no avail.
Roberts ran a clean, prayerful, conservative campaign and won the prize. In talking to a wise Jan Esquivel the night of the election, her astute comment was that the voters look for integrity and character first and foremost. Oh, that we could have more Lincolns.
One more note: Oregon and Colorado will now be the pot capitals of the U.S.A. Legalization of marijuana won't help the young people, won't help the culture and won't help the future. It will help government after they tax it just like booze and increase the bureaus, pensions and salaries. Thinking it over, I am against taxing mary jane just because some agency needs money. Let them eat cake.
Overall, the country has repudiated the repudiator in chief and his repudiation of the Constitution though being a constitutional professor of repudiated law.
May we always vote for the candidates of our choice and may God bless America.
Joel Marks lives in Medford.