Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Jessica Gomez, Athena Goldberg, and Jeff Golden

If Jeff Golden wins, it needs to be for the right reasons.

There is a delicate task in front of Southern Oregon Democrats. On policy grounds, most Democrats will vote for Jeff Golden. 

That could send the wrong message.

Thad Guyer, a frequent Guest Post author, raises an issue with care and good taste. It thrills me that from time to time this blog stimulates careful thought on delicate subjects.  Guyer brings up the simple truth that Jessica Gomez is Latina, apparently moderate in her positions, and that she is speaking in favor of bi-partisan cooperation to bring good government in Oregon.  That is what Democrats want. She is the Democrats' ideal. 

Yet most will vote against her, on policy grounds.

GOP voters have responded to xenophobic dog whistles by Trump, echoing the comments of then-Democrat George Wallace in 1968 and 1972, but saying them more carefully and without a southern accent. It is entirely possible that Gomez's close brush with defeat in the GOP primary from a patently offensive and unsuitable opponent, Curt Ankerberg, happened because a significant number of Republicans simply don't like or trust a Latina.  She faced Republican voter prejudice. Jessica Gomez noted this herself when we spoke last week. 

Guyer argues that Jeff Golden needs to be very careful in messaging on Gomez, being certain not to appear to be condoning or profiting from Trump's ethno-nationalist talking points and the endemic racism that motivates many voters. I watched Republican voters tolerate--and indeed cheer in rallies I attended--Trump's open insults of Latinos, and generally to people of color.  

Of course, Jeff Golden himself would not encourage xenophobic voting. And it is a hallmark of Golden's approach to want to be open to cooperation and bridge building. Xenophobia and racism are opposite his entire life history in politics. But as this blog has noted, candidates in this race may lose control of what is said by others on their behalf, and voters make choices based on their own goals, preferences, and prejudices. Some people will hear what they want to hear, and as Trump has revealed, there is a large core of voters who want to vote white.

Guest Post by Thad Guyer

Thad Guyer
"Voting for the Right Reasons"

"Democrats should vote for Jeff Golden because he will far better represent our political agenda in Salem. That obviously is the point. But standing very closely beside that point is a broader question of values and identity. It is our party that most loudly extols the virtues of ethnic inclusion and women’s empowerment. Having rebuffed Athena Goldberg’s hopes to be the first woman District 3 state Senator, instead preferring a man who made a big point of rejecting pro-choice and environmentalist group money, 

Democrats have some explaining to do. If there were any big policy disputes between this progressive woman and progressive Jeff Golden they were sure hard to see. Was it instead populist inclination to reject even our own “establishment”? Was it Jeff’s long background in politics? Or was it voter preference for a 68 year old man over a 48 year old woman, both of whom had the same ideology and political goals?  

When the voters’ choice does not come down to ideology, issues or incumbency, then gender, ethnicity and racial identity have to be considered. That inquiry is a moral obligation. Having rejected the woman in the Year of the Woman national Democratic push, we need to be especially careful on how Jessica Gomez and her ideas are treated. Callous regard of her and her call for bipartisanship, despite her undoubted ability to handle it with strength and dignity, would diminish Democrats. We must take care not to alienate ourselves from our own values, community standards and good examples to our children.  

Arguing against moderation and compromise on specific core Democratic issues such as health care and reproductive rights is fully defensible. But taking a stance against “bipartisanship” generally, or projecting that “we don’t want to work together”, is not only uncivil and counter-intuitive, it will surely be politically unpalatable to most voters and we will lose. And it would elevate the specter that the real reason voters might prefer Golden to Gomez is ethnicity and gender. 

I’m confident Jeff Golden is going to treat Ms. Gomez with respect and is not going to reject her call for bipartisanship. That's just who he is. Hopefully he will make a point of embracing it generally and reserve the strongest expressions of partisanship to our most important issues. His job in protecting the egalitarian aspirations of this community is to engage her on very specific political issues, so that if the moderate Latina loses, we can be assured the cause was her positions on the issues, not his identity as a white male."


  1. "When the voters’ choice does not come down to ideology, issues or incumbency, then gender, ethnicity and racial identity have to be considered." Perhaps the writer didn't mean to convey the idea, but this generalization seems to intimate that the persons themselves are interchangeable.
    I think all of those characteristics are relevant, but I personally was impressed by Mr. Golden because he is thoughtful, articulate, and exhibits a depth of knowledge and experience on the issues.

  2. Peter Sage is a racist, and Peter, you are offensive to conservatives.
    Who cares if Gomez is Latina, or a female? Only Peter Sage would. This isn't about tokenism. This is about choosing the most qualified candidate to push their agenda. Gomez doesn't have an agenda. Gomez is an empty suit. Gomez's only agenda is pushing the Chamber of Commerce's agenda. Gomez wouldn't know a conservative agenda if it hit her in the face, and thus a large portion of conservatives will reject her in November. Peter Sage is like most misguided liberals who choose identity politics over competency. Only a racist or a sexist chooses a candidate based upon gender or ethnicity, and that's Peter Sage. BTW....Jamie What's Her Face is going to get her ass kicked by Walden in November.


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