...I'm okay with being REALITY-based.

Wednesday, May 12, 2004
      ( 9:49 AM )
Oregon Votes

Next Tuesday is Oregon's Primary. It may seem that this doesn't really matter - the Democratic Presidential Candidate has already been decided. But it is an important election for Oregonians, Portlanders and the nation (or at least the Democratic party).

First - for Oregonians. This is an important primary because there are TONS of state house and senate seats open for election. Oregonians need to think carefully about the direction our state has gone lately. Especially with the stripping of the once lauded Oregon Health Plan and our education system. The OHP was the most incredible example of health care provision of any state in the union. But the economy, bad management and other priorities in the state have chipped away at it until it is a mere shadow of what it once was and what it could have been. Oregonians have voted down tax increases and have condemned our children and the most vulnerable of our citizens because of it. WIth this primary, we can look towards making our legislature and senate more effective and holding our state representatives accountable.

Second - for Portlanders. We are electing a mayor. As my Oregonian readers know, I am supporting and working for the election of Tom Potter. Not only is he a former police chief with tons of experience in community relations - something Portland sorely needs right now, but he has also demonstrated with his campaign contribution limits that he will not be beholden to any big money interests (unlike the money machine and so-called front runner Fransisconi). I also urge Portlanders to vote out Randy Leonard from our city council and get rid of Sam Adams. Adams puts on a good show with his commercials and shiny direct mail brochures. But he is just as much in the pocket of big business as Fransisconi. Not only that, but Adams only represents the tired old reign of Vera Katz. I urge you to vote for Nick Fish for city council. I've met him many times in person, he was a great and involved supporter of Howard Dean and Dean's ideals and I think that he will be much more effective for the people of Portland than would Sam Adams.

Third - for the Nation. Our presidential primary won't decide anything. But we CAN send a message. I think that all progressive-thinking Democrats should vote for Dennis Kucinich in this primary next week. Our democratic primary isn't about deciding anything, it's about sending a message. Our party has already begun the inevitable DLC-swing-to-the-right and Kerry is talking non-stop about the "middle class" and "business" and has virtually stopped mentioning the poor, universal healthcare for children or even a plan to get us out of Iraq. Showing a huge vote for Kucinich will send the message to the Democratic Party that we aren't willing to go the Centrist, GOP-lite route anymore. Dennis has been hanging out in Oregon non-stop the last month - talking with people all over our economically-deprived state. Give him credit for being a smart, progressive Representative and show the country that we aren't going to let our Party repeat 2002.

If Dean proved anything, it was that there is a fervor to be done with the DLC days and to return to the progressive roots of our party. Now is not the time to give that up. As I've said many times on this blog, I registered as a Democrat last year ONLY because of Howard Dean. Once I vote for Kucinich, I'm going back to being an independent. I don't vote straight party lines - especially when the Democratic party tries to be Republicans. I think that is slowly starting to change. But Democrats can keep that going by sending messages like a strong vote for Kucinich in the primary. Progressives must take this party back to its roots and once Dems are back in power, the progressives must be able to influence this country onto a more humane, people-centered track. The only way this nation will survive is if the people do. And with corporations and big money in charge, that's not a guarantee.

Vote Dennis on Tuesday, all you Dems. It WILL make a difference.

Finally, voting in Oregon is important on a national level because we are the only state that votes wholly by paper and mostly by mail. All of our votes are mailed in, we have done away with having to appear at a polling booth, and we receive detailed booklets about all the candidates prior to the election. We have weeks to fill out our ballots and make our choices and we can mail them in or drop them off for election day. We fill in our choices with pens or pencils and they are scanned and can be recounted if there is a need. It's a way to show the efficiency of paper ballots and the security that comes along with them. In this age of Diebold, our state can show the country that indeed, paper ballots and voting by mail IS an efficient, cost-effective and GOOD way to vote.

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