Thursday, May 19, 2022

OK, So What's the Rest of Your Platform? — An Open Letter to Oregon's Republican Candidates

Dear Republican candidates from Oregon,

As I write this, Oregon's primary election was two days ago, and based on the number of votes submitted, it's going to be a bloodbath in November. GOP candidates may do well nationally, but Oregon and her Congressional delegation are set to get even more blue.

A big part of the problem, I think, is that the Oregon Republican Party has become a "single issue" caucus. And no, that "single issue" is not freedom, individual rights (including gun rights), low taxes, small government, building a business-friendly environment, maintaining roads and infrastructure, or any of the things national Republicans are standing for.

Nope. The Oregon GOP's "single issue" is ... abortion.

This whole season, only one primary candidate — Jimmy Crumpacker, running for the U.S. House (District 5) — talked about something else (in his case, reforming immigration and finishing "The Wall"). Every other GOP candidate was actively trying to "out-pro-life" the rest.

Crumpacker didn't win because those Trump-era values aren't popular here. But at least he stood for something other than limiting abortion.

Contrast with the Democrats' campaigns. Only one — Andrea Salinas, also running for U.S. House (newly-formed District 6) — brought up her "pro-choice" credentials, in that she's endorsed by Planned Parenthood. But that's not the main "plank" in her platform; she's Progressive, pro-public-worker, pro-entitlement-spending, and will "stand against Republicans". In addition to Planned Parenthood, she's also endorsed by SEIU and Oregon Governor Kate Brown.

Whether one approves or not (I don't), one must admit hers is a much more well-rounded campaign and platform.

But the lack of depth in the GOP campaigns isn't the worst part.

The worst part is, the Oregon GOP should have learned this lesson two years ago.

In 2020, there was an election for local school boards. Then, as now, every conservative candidate ran on being "the only pro-life candidate running for this seat". Nothing about getting rid of racially-based and -biased instruction (that we now know as Critical Race Theory), nothing about accountability for tax and bond funds, nothing about improving safety in schools, nothing about bettering education and opportunities for students. And no explanation on how being pro-life qualifies one for a school board position or why that matters for elected officials who govern education and not healthcare.

Every single conservative got trounced in that election, and the school board is now run by "Progressive" Marxists pushing CRT and LGBTQ++ agendas instead of reading, writing, math, and history.

The lesson that should have been learned then is this: Regardless of your personal beliefs on the matter of abortion, stances other than "pro-choice" do not play well in Oregon; if you're pro-life, you can still be elected, but you must have a deep platform of other issues on which to campaign, particularly when the position in question doesn't have much influence on abortion.

In true GOP fashion, though, the lesson was there, clearly visible to everyone else, and they couldn't or wouldn't see it.

If you're a Republican candidate in Oregon, there are some hard facts you must face, chief among them that conservative voters (not necessarily registered Republicans, but people who typically vote Republican) are outnumbered two-to-one*. The Democrats' super-majority in both legislative chambers, plus control over the Governor's desk for 35+ years (and counting), is proof enough of that.

Now, I get it. Given the unprecedented leak of a draft Supreme Court opinion which could overturn much of Roe v. Wade, abortion is front-and-center in the news and voters' attentions. It's normal to want to talk about it.

But observe the rest of the context: As soon as that leak was made known, Oregon Governor Kate Brown moved to push the Legislature to pass a bill "protecting women's health" and legalizing abortions throughout Oregon. According to polling, it's a wildly popular bill among voters. Campaigning against it is a losing proposition, doubly so when there's nothing else in the platform.

And again, this public sentiment was clear in 2020, well before Roe v. Wade was being re-litigated before SCOTUS.

Oregon Republicans seem to think this is Florida — where they're the majority and have a Republican governor who backs them up — and campaign accordingly.

But this isn't Florida, our Governor is not Ron DeSantis, and if Republicans want to win, they'll need to broaden their platform to reach more moderates and non-affiliated voters. If you're running as a Republican, I highly recommend you start with the economy and infrastructure — tell us your plan to encourage businesses to expand and start hiring non-minimum-wage positions, get people back to work, and lower the tax burden, and then follow up with your plan to fix the roads and bridges, bolster the electrical grid and power generation, and bring real high-speed internet service to rural areas.

I guarantee, just those two issues — economy and infrastructure — will play much better and swing more moderates than being "the only/most pro-life candidate running".

Any Republican candidates who wish to discuss this more in-depth are welcome to contact me either in comments or via that email link on the right sidebar. Regular readers, as always, are also welcome to comment and discuss.

Stay safe out there.

* - Officially, in Oregon neither of the two major parties have a majority due to the large number of non-affiliated voters (NAVs). NAVs even outnumber Democrats here. The thing is, the vast majority of those NAVs consistently vote Democrat; surveys show many are non-affiliated because they believe the Democrats aren't "Progressive" enough (there are a few who believe the opposite — that Republicans aren't conservative enough — but it's a tiny number). Talk that independent Betsy Johnson's gubernatorial bid will split the Democrat-leaning NAV vote in November and allow a Republican to be elected is wishful thinking; she's more likely to significantly split the Republican vote and give Democrats an even stronger victory.