Monday, May 28, 2018

State Senator Alan DeBoer: "There is a middle."

Oregon Senate Candidate Jessica Gomez is in an awkward spot. 

She is trying to be in a middle that may not exist. 

She is a Latina in a Republican Party uncomfortable with Latinas. She is a soft spoken moderate when both Democrats and Republicans say they want more civility in politics, but are in fact moving to motivate their partisan activists. That's where the marginal votes are.

State Senator Alan DeBoer
This blog's profile of Jessica Gomez created useful responses.  Republican State Senator Alan DeBoer is retiring and has endorsed Jessica Gomez as his successor.  He wrote a thoughtful comment asserting that there is, in fact, middle ground in the Oregon legislature and that it serves an important purpose. Those swing votes in the legislature, which deny Democrats a super-majority, force bi-partisan solutions which are better for Oregon, he writes.  

The comment below is lightly edited for clarity:

Alan DeBoer writes:

"I can't help but write a response to this blog, and the premise a Guest Comment asserted that the Party caucuses lock people into one side or another. There is a middle. It is to do the right thing for solutions to the big problems of our State. 

The example I will use was just illustrated Monday in the one day session. Democrats (with the exception of Mark Hass) voted to expand a decrease in taxes to the rich. They did this at a time we are working on increased funding to education, health care, mental illness, etc. It takes 22 million out of a two year budget and was done under pressure from their caucus to support the governors re-election against all they have worked to do in repealing the tax structure that passed in 2013. 

If we give theDemocrats a super majority they will ignore the minority and blaze ahead with programs, when we have better solutions that we only get when we all work together. I can tell you that Jessica will make a difference and the Republican caucus will be better with her there. They have certainly allowed me to voice my opinions and follow my heart when voting. I wrote a tax plan (referred to as the DeBoer plan) that raised taxes only on the wealthy, dedicated all the money to fund PERS, and helped schools from the increase in PERS costs they will be facing. It went nowhere, as the majority party wouldn’t want a Republican tax plan as the optics weren’t good. 

Jessica Gomez
We need to take the politics out of our legislature and we need to elect people who know business, who have signed paychecks, and are in the middle with positive solutions. The Democratic Party Caucus is very intolerant of independent thinking."

Jessica Gomez confounds Republicans and Democrats, both. 

Republicans had a choice in the nomination process, and they nearly nominated Curt Ankerberg. I have left in place Ankerberg's comments for the past two days of blog posts so readers can observe for themselves his fitness for office. I consider his near-victory, despite being outspent 40-to-1, amid extensive reportage of his legal troubles and medical incapacities, a powerful signal of the GOP mood. Ankerberg says voters don't like her policy views.

He also demeans her personally. I am uncomfortable having this blog be a venue for his incivility, but I am leaving the comments in place, for now, as primary source material. Republican voters--at least 48% of them--tolerate Ankerberg's behavior. Trump exposed a simple reality about the American mood when we observed him broad-brushing Mexicans as rapists and drug dealers, and then go on to demolish fifteen primary election opponents. So, too, with Ankerberg's comments on Gomez and others. Ankerberg exposes what behavior and language is apparently acceptable to a great many Republicans.

Ankerberg gets 48% of vote.
In conversation with me Gomez gestured up at her face and made a shrug of "here I am, look at me." 

She said a lot of Republicans distrusted her.

Democrats, too, had a choice. Attorney Thad Guyer, a frequent guest commenter on this blog, noted that Democrats chose a white male senior citizen, Jeff Golden, instead of Athena Goldberg, a charismatic woman who had the support of the traditional institutional friends of Democrats, including women's reproductive rights, unions, and environmental groups. Democrats chose independence over alliances. And as regards Jessica Gomez, he wrote that Democrats "celebrate by trashing her as a phony because she is campaigning for bipartisanship. Indeed, that delegitimizing of her will be the one thing we have with the deplorables who attack her for not mouthing conservative battle cries. Beat down the Latina because she says we need to start somewhere in reducing the political bloodlust."

In headgear near "clean room."
Jessica Gomez produces a problem for Democrats, because as a young technology entrepreneur, a Latina, someone apparently moderate and civil and bi-partisan, she represents exactly the kind of Republican Democrats wish were more common--the kind of Republican that has largely disappeared as the GOP moved to the ethno-nationalist right under Trump. Republicans like Gomez are exactly the kinds of people who make good effective government possible, and Democrats attempt to be the party of good government. They oppose Gomez from the left, even as she and moderates like her struggle to win primary elections against candidates like Curt Ankerberg who try to shrink or eliminate the institutions progressive government created. 

Democrats are forced to thread a political needle, arguing that Jessica Gomez sounds good, but cannot stay good. She is the kind of person they want to see more of in government, but not exactly. She is an idealist, but naive. She would be co-opted and corrupted, they say.

It is left, then, for Gomez and Alan DeBoer to be the idealists hoping to implement a better future of unifying effective government in Salem. The system can work, they say, if we put good hearted bipartisan people into government, and elect them now.

They are beset on both sides. From the left Jeff Golden, the voice of "immense possibilities" for positive change, says that the current system of politics and elections is inherently corrupt to its very core, and both Democrats and Republicans who are elected with the assistance of organized groups and money are compromised and indebted by it. In Golden's narrative, he would stand nearly alone in being personally free from PAC influence and if we elect him he would be an exemplary example of uncompromised political leadership and courage.

From the right Curt Ankerberg asserts that Jessica Gomez is a fraud and corrupt to the core, as is nearly everyone else in government, business, and media. As a genuine conservative, in his narrative he would expose the corruption that besets the entire system of crony capitalism.

In either case, Jeff Golden or Curt Ankenberg, each would be a lonely voice of reform in a thoroughly corrupt system.

Jessica Gomez and Alan DeBoer are the ones saying our political system can work and that  an election makes a positive difference right now. They are saying that Gomez's election tips the system toward bi-partisanship and civility, so your vote really matters. DeBoer says that one person can make a big difference, and he has seen it happen. Gomez says she is a moderate who can be that person.


  1. Moderation...another misused term.

    Moderation in social drinking, recreational drug use, driving, scolding children, adding spice to food, and so on makes a certain sense. Moderation means don't overdo, avoid excess. It can create problems. "Moderation In All Things" is attributed to Aristotle and is considered wisdom from the ages.

    However it seems to me that when Regressives and Progressives attempt to moderate it becomes a stalemate. Progressives agitate for change, an active effort to make improvements to social and economic justice, to move America off a war based economy, and a broader application of the common good, just for starters, while those who like things the way they are (or were) resist.

    Where is the opportunity for compromise?

    Pick an issue, say, public education. Regressive leaders agitate for effectively abolishing it, to the point that teachers are forced to protest in the streets. These same forces resist public support for higher education, causing a crisis in student debt. This should be an obvious area for social progress but some perverse impulse continues to obstruct this society while others around the world move forward.

    Greed, Bigotry, Prejudice, Misogyny, Religious Zealotry...Love, Hate...Good, me how this can be moderated. I'll wait.

  2. "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 ethic 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.

  3. Thad: can you articulate a moral basis for identity as a qualification for office because I haven’t seen it. And what would be the basis for your observation of her “undoubted ability to handle (anything) with strength and dignity”? Her long experience in public affairs or starry eyed wishful thinking?


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