Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Oregonians Send Progressive Populist Message. Will Washington Listen?

I was out in Oregon a couple of weeks ago and there was a lot of talk about ballot measures 66 and 67 which would raise taxes on large corporations and the extremely wealthy. With the budget crisis that's facing states all across the country, these measures would help to make sure that the public schools could receive the funds they desperately needed to continue operating (Oregon's schools already have one of the shortest school years and can't afford any more cuts). Despite the fact that the right wing likes to claim that voters don't want to give the government the ability to collect taxes from the extremely wealthy, Oregonians went to the polls yesterday and voted in favor of these measures. The message behind this is that there is a populist movement taking place in this country but it isn't the one the Republican leadership has been portraying.

As the president is going to deliver his State of the Union address tonight and we're in the middle of a debate over health care, Jonathan Sager points out that the question now is whether or not Washington will listen.
The message out of Oregon, like the message out of Massachusetts, is resonating: Voters are in a populist mood right now -- not an anti-government one, necessarily, but a populist one nevertheless. The progressive brand of populism that resonated with Oregonians this month is slightly different than the one that rang true in Massachusetts. Yet the message is just as clear.

The real question now is whether DC will listen, or if instead it will continue to cling to its common wisdom.
One of the main reasons that so many people in Washington paid attention to Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts was that Republicans made sure the media and elected officials heard their sound bites. Now that voters in Oregon have made it clear that this isn't a Republican movement, but a populist one, we need to make sure that our elected officials get the message. Of course, the best way of doing that is to call your members of Congress and write letters to the editors of your local papers. And now that our general assembly is in session and deliberating over the state budget, I strongly encourage you to let your Delegates and state Senators know that it's okay to make sure that corporations and the extremely wealthy pay their fair share.

If you want to tell your members of Congress that you support the message sent by voters in Oregon, you can call the Congressional switchboard at 202.224.3121. If you want to contact your members of the General Assembly, you can get their information by following this link.

1 comment:

  1. A few questions:

    Yes, in Oregon popular opinion suggests the best way to solve budget problems is to increase taxation on the rich. However, why should all states be subjected to such a policy if popular opinion would suggest a different policy towards budget problems? Texas would most certainly oppose such a taxation policy.

    Shouldn’t we wait and see how the economy responds in Oregon before subjecting the entire country to a taxation policy similar to Oregon? What if business leaders were right and it causes a massive exodus of the rich and/or healthy corporations.

    Should politicians always follow the lead of popular opinion? Think of Nazi Germany or gay marriage or abortion in Mississippi.