Friday, April 27, 2018

Videos Reveal Democratic Candidates

Democratic Choices for State Senate. Their campaign videos suggest the kind of candidate they are, and legislator they would be.

Today I look at two of them: Jeff Golden and Athena Goldberg.

Democrats have four viable choices on the ballot in the open seat to replace Alan DeBoer who replaced Al Bates. One of them will match up against Jessica Gomez in the general election. Each has professional or political experience sufficient to make them able legislators.

Golden example: Click
Jeff Golden came into the race by far the best known of the four, having done progressive politics in southern Oregon for 40 years, having run for and held offices, and having been on radio and TV talking about community and public policy.  His campaign videos reflect a tone of reflection, thoughtfulness, idealism, and earnestness. Golden often observes that "his side", i.e. progressives, or Democrats, or politicians, or environmentalists, are not fault-free. It is a very Jeff-Golden-ish to observe that Democrats have been in control in Salem, but that there are still problems. "I'm a dissatisfied Democrat," Golden says, and then says we can be better. Oregon can be better. Jeff Golden does not scold, but there is an underlying theme. We--all of us--need to own the problems so that we can all own the solutions. His progressivism holds up a mirror along with his path forward.

Click for Golden Facebook videos  There are about 15 of them. Voters who take time to watch a few will pick up on a theme embedded there, one of responsibility to walk the talk.  We cannot condemn others without being conscious of our own responsibility. A corollary of that thinking is that Golden himself refuses PAC money, even from "good guys", a behavior which has the effect of cooling the enthusiasm of traditionally Democratic-supporting PACs and organizations for Golden. If he won't dance with them, they won't dance with him.  

Some will consider this a strength and a sign of integrity.  Others will consider it standoffish or self-congratulatory, and a political liability.

The overall message of the Jeff Golden videos: he is a consistent, thoughtful, knowledgeable, progressive.  We all can can be and do better, so let's do it together. 

Voters have a choice in this election. Is Jeff Golden's conscientiousness a good thing or a bad thing? Maybe we would rather have something else, a pure advocate, someone clear-headed and certain and unconfused by ambiguities.

Voters have Athena Goldberg as an alternative.

Athena Goldberg's videos make her political case, and are a metaphor and expression of her own value proposition. Click the caption to watch the video. It opens with her striding toward the camera for five seconds. Midway though the video we see another five seconds of her walking briskly forward to shake hands briskly. We see Goldberg in action, moving and engaging, always forward. Goldberg narrates the video with a firm, confident voice. "Together, we an build a stronger, healthier Oregon."

Click: Athena Goldberg "Featured Video"
The video is essentially issue content free. She says Oregon workers need housing and health care--a goal--but with no suggestion of a way to get there other than to elect a "progressive leader." She has one important point of content, saying she will work to fulfill the legacy of the late Alan Bates. She claims the inheritance.

The video sends a simple, powerful message: purpose and progressive politics by a strong woman. It is done essentially wordlessly. Enough with the contemplation! She is a fighter with a purpose. Jeff Golden stands in front of a barn, talking to the camera, speaking of obligations to improve, while Athena Goldberg is in rapid action and engagement, reflecting peppy team spirit and a can-do attitude.

There are other Goldberg videos, including ones of her holding a microphone and voicing solidarity with Providence Hospital nurses and another at a woman's rally. I am with you, she says. The overall impression is of affinity. Her friends know what they want and that is what she needs to know. Goldberg Facebook videos

Golden and Goldberg present two alternative choices. Jeff Golden's value is that he knows what he is doing. Athena Goldberg's is that she knows who her friends are. This helps explain the fact that Athena Goldberg lists multiple endorsers in her voters pamphlet page, while Jeff Golden lists only one--a board on which he served for many years, the League of Conservation Voters.  Golden is on their side because he has deeply internalized their values. The League could also endorse Goldberg because she will reliably advocate for them.

Voters have multiple ways to choose between these two. Man-woman. Familiar-unfamiliar. Experienced-new face.

Jeff Golden might be thought to have a natural advantage here with his deep experience base, and long-standing reputation as a progressive leader. He knows things. He is good at this. He tells us what the thinks, and those are things that progressive Democrats tend to agree with. This should be a slam dunk for him. He is exactly what people think they want.

However, it is possible that voters in the Democratic primary have a different mood, and they actually want something else. Maybe the voter mood is primarily restlessness and impatience, and voters want someone who reflects action. Maybe Golden's experience and knowledge actually work against him.

If impatience is the mood, then Athena Goldberg might surprise people on election night..


  1. Hmm, Generic preppy polish or crunchy granola with substantial fiber? I know one would be better for me, but oh that impressive and catchy marketing ...

  2. Your writing skills sharpen with every blog. I hope broader opportunities come your way.


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