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Oregonians are ill-served by a one-party state

Remember when presidential candidates actually campaigned in Oregon? Now they simply treat Oregon as an ATM.

In 2004, both President George W. Bush and Sen. John Kerry drew huge crowds for public campaign rallies. But in 2012, both President Obama and Gov. Romney popped in just long enough for quick and private fundraisers. What changed? Oregon has proven itself to be a one-party state. And with that, we have become politically irrelevant at the national level.

Becoming politically irrelevant is only one of the many dangers of being a one-party state. Another danger, and a more hazardous one at that, is the lack of debate and compromise. Just look at this last election. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum, a Democrat, refused to publicly debate her Republican opponent because she knew the likelihood of a Republican winning a statewide election was low and debating would only introduce her to risk.

Democratic Secretary of State Kate Brown refused to debate her Republican opponent in any Republican geographic areas where she wouldn’t have “home field” advantage. In the western Washington County races, the Democratic opponents refused to participate in formal debates.

This lack of debate and lack of willingness to publicly articulate ideas is incredibly harmful and damaging to Oregon. Fostering debate is essential. It allows voters to compare candidates and their ideas. And of course, with a one-party state, you’ll see fewer and fewer qualified Republican candidates running, which will result in fewer and fewer qualified Democratic candidates running. This is not productive for Oregon in any way.

So, how do we get back to a multi-party state? It will require us Oregon voters to bring ourselves to vote for the most qualified candidate over voting for the candidate’s party affiliation. It will require us to engage the candidates in thoughtful discussion and then vote for the most competent and qualified candidate.

It may be that we only agree on 70 percent of the issues with the most qualified candidate. But competency, qualifications and a commitment to publicly engage voters are more important than party zealousness.

Remembering the old Sears, Roebuck & Co. catalog introduces us to the idea that some choices are good but others are better. You’ll remember that there were three degrees of quality: good, better and best.

For example, some men’s shoes were labeled "good" ($1.84), some "better" ($2.98) and some "best" ($3.45). As we consider various political choices, we should remember that it is not enough that something is good. Other choices are better, and still others are best.

Even though a particular choice of candidate may not line up with your political leanings 100 percent of the time, a candidate’s values and qualities may make the candidate the best choice of all.

But until we Oregonians prove we can vote for the qualified person over the political affiliation, fewer competent and qualified Republicans will try kicking the football Lucy is holding, and Oregon loses out.

Let’s get rid of the one-party state and bring back debate and compromise. Let’s get presidential candidates battling for our state’s votes again.

Voters must continually renew their understanding of the crucial role they play. Please take the necessary time to learn about pressing issues, and then judge candidates based on their intelligence, character, positions on the issues, and relevant experience. We must collectively move on from voting blindly on party affiliation. Parties have plenty of the blame but voters also have a responsibility to be informed constituents.

Shawn Lindsay, a Republican, is the state representative for House District 30, which covers Banks, northern Hillsboro and North Plains. He was defeated in the November election by Democrat Joe Gallegos.




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