Thursday, September 30, 2010

My Election Woes

Sometimes I start out to write one thing, but end up writing something completely different. My friend, Sonya, blogs weekly and Tweets daily about Oregon’s race for Governor. She digs through public records and old newspapers, and highlights every misstep Chris Dudley makes. She even called Anne Yeager, of KGW News, to the mat for misleadingly editing campaign footage and bungling a story.

Inspired by her tenaciousness, I was going to do the same thing. I was going to point out the fact that every economic short fall Dudley attributes to Kitzhaber’s term in office happened after 9/11, when all 50 states took an economic nose dive. I was going to explain why cutting capital gains taxes won’t create jobs. I even dug through SEC filings for Filigree Advisors, where Dudley claims to be a "Wealth Strategist." I was going to make a big deal of the fact the his title status has been, “Leave of Absence,” since 2008 and the fact there are no job duties listed for him.

I began writing the piece six times, and I couldn’t get through it. I logged off last night, and asked myself why I couldn’t write it. After much soul searching, I realized I was politically gun shy. Two years ago, I was on-fire for Obama. He was the man. He was going to put liberalism back in the Democratic party, and unite the country. Riiiiiiiiiiight……….

OK, he delivered a health plan which will insure millions of Americans. Kudos to him for that. Really, that was a huge step forward for this country. However, he’s not even proposing what’s necessary to fix the economy, and he’s bumfuzzled on education.

We’ve seen temporary influxes of stimulus money pumped into the economy. However, I haven’t heard anyone in authority propose anything but stop gap measures. On education, Obama’s promising money to states which will link teacher pay to test scores, even though the most extensive study to date concluded that such programs are ineffective. Before you say, “there are no clear answers,” let me lay a couple on you, just for shits and giggles.

Instead of giving tax breaks to companies that ship jobs overseas, let’s end those tax breaks and give them to companies that open factories and plants in the U.S. Doing so will create jobs and establish a wider base of consumers who will fuel the economy by buying goods and services. Seems pretty straight forward to me, but I haven’t seen Obama even flirt with the idea.

As for education, unless teachers have the right to exclude low functioning kids from their class rooms, tying teacher pay to test scores is blatantly unfair. Eliminating teacher tenure won’t help either. It will simply let districts save money by firing experienced educators before they qualify for their pensions, leaving districts with young inexperienced teachers. No, to raise test scores, we need to incentivize students.

As it stands now, students move to second grade whether they’ve passed first grade, or not. No… Wait… Sorry… My bad. They don’t pass anymore, they “meet benchmarks.” Whether a first grader meets benchmarks, or not, they’ll be promoted to second grade, and they know it. This policy of social promotion follows students through school. The problem is, without the ability to fail students have no incentive to succeed, at least not one a six year old can understand. They don’t understand having to do well in order to qualify for a good job in fifteen to twenty years, but they can grasp the idea that if they don’t do well they won’t move to second grade with their friends. Yet, I don’t see Obama, or any other Democrat for that matter, trying to discourage social promotion.

I’m going to vote for Kitzhaber, of course. I simply can’t get excited about it, because I feel like I’ll be voting against Republican induced disaster, rather than for inspired Democratic change. I’m just not willing to get my hopes up again.


  1. James! This is awesome. I really got a sense of how you have struggled with the messages this election is leaving with us. And I'm so dang proud to have inspired someone to get the fire back for politics. It's a tough slog. We Progressives aren't comfortable voting against a negative as we are voting for a positive. But nothing less than saving the country might be comfort enough as we cast our votes.

    I look forward to reading more and I am following you now!

  2. Thanks :->

    Here's hoping for the best in November.