Oregon Republicans are now officially part of the national party. They have declared “to hell with democracy and to hell with the voters”. And now they are saying they won’t do the jobs they were elected to do.
Once upon a time, Rs in Oregon were a different critter. They believed in a variant of so-called conservative policies and they worked hard to achieve their political goals. They compromised when they couldn’t get all that they wanted, and so did the Democrats. But every now and then, they let things go too far.
Term limits that let lobbyists take near-absolute control of the Leg’s business.
The “kicker” that takes billions in revenue, properly earned thanks to the state doing well, and giving it away rather than reinvesting in the state’s growing needs.
Refusal to consider raising an ancient beer tax of five cents or eliminating tax credits that benefit those already benefitting from wealth and privilege.
And here and there, members of their party in the Leg would endorse the more extreme aspects of the party nationally. Then came Trump and MAGA, and Oregon voters put their foot down.
They’ve elected Democrats to every state-wide office.
They’ve put Democrats in charge of the Legislature.
Four of six seats in the House (Congress) and both Senators are Democrats.
Are you sensing a theme here? Because the Republicans damn sure are not.
And when Republicans in the Leg tried to thwart the democratically elected majority by walking out and not letting the state’s business be conducted, voters said Enough. They passed Measure 113, which the State Supreme Court said was a valid measure and means that the ten GOP state senators who walked out on their responsibilities in 2023 cannot run for re-election.
Let’s be clear why the Rs have taken this drastic, and failed, step of quitting on their constituents.
The majority of Oregonians want gun safety laws passed, but a loud and powerful minority – funded by the gun industry – do not. The only means the Republicans had to block these laws was not show up for work.
To violate their oaths of office.
It’s not just gun safety laws, of course. Women’s health rights are anathema to many conservatives and MAGAs. Environmental protections to counter climate change are seen as socialist and even anti-Christian. Enabling minorities to overcome historic injustice and poverty are, of course, attacks on white privilege and cannot be countenanced.
And so on.
Oregon is a progressive, urban state and growing more so. Democrats have long taken care to do what they can for those in rural areas of the state, but Republicans seem dedicated to making life miserable for those in cities. They even fought a law to make neighborhood streets safer. Republicans are out-of-touch with the values and desires of the majority of the state – a majority that continues to grow – and so they are losing elections.
It’s called democracy, dude.
Like Republicans across the country, Oregon Rs are not responding to the changes in the electorate by listening and changing, but by trying to block and even end democracy. Imagine if the State Supreme Court had tossed Measure 113. The Leg would be toast unless the Democratic majority – majority! – gutted their promises to the voters who gave them that majority and instead turned over power to the Rs just so they wouldn’t go storming out in a tantrum.
Don’t be surprised if the Dems have super-majorities in both chambers of the Legislature soon. Oregonians, like Americans across the country are sick of anti-democratic politics and many are starting to understand what’s at risk if they don’t stand up and say, Stop, enough.
That was the point of Measure 113: Enough of your childish behavior. Do your job or get out.
And out they are.
But not before one final tantrum on the Senate floor – or, more accurately, off it. Wherever Tim Knopp goes to hide from his responsibilities.