couple thoughts on last night:
a) what a wonderful reception last night for the Oregon Safe Roadscampaign. I've been going to Democratic election night parties at the Hilton for years, and it was marvelous to see that tiny room packed with so many newcomers who were clearly absorbing their first election night as volunteers/organizers for the very first time. The room was bursting at the seems with folks from Basic Rights Oregon, APANO, Causa, CIO, and so many other groups that coalesced in the name of solidarity and social justice. I'll admit it felt like a punch to the gut to see the visible distress on many of those faces as the results came in; these volunteers, who poured their hearts into this cause, deserved so, so much more, and it brought me back to remembering my own initial tastes of election night heartbreaks in 2000, 2002 and 2004. While many partners stepped up big time to help build this unique coalition, the astonishing margin of defeat left a bitter taste in my mouth, especially considering Oregon's progressive voter turnout machine managed to not only reelect a milquetoast Governor, a progressive-but-ostensibly-electorally-vulnerable Senator, but also gain majorities in the State House and Senate. Blame it on latent statewide racism, a lack of big-donor and big-name support, a badly-mangled ballot title, low-turnout, or some combination of the above, but a state that can legalize marijuana and win progressive majorities should have the time, energy, resources, and compassion to stand with Oregon's newest and most vulnerable residents on a cause that's been championed for four years. I hope our local officials in the Democratic Party are willing to have frank conversations about the vital importance of not taking for granted the votes and political power of Oregon's ever-growing communities of color, not only because it's the right thing to do electorally, but because it's a moral imperative for a party that claims to champions equality and social justice.
b) You're all sick of hearing me blather on about the increasing irrelevance of national-level politics, but the agonizingly inevitable clusterfuck of a stalemated congress and a centrist Clinton coronation/presidency leaves little room to believe that our federal government is going to be relevant to the most urgent needs for our communities anytime soon. Some combination of campaign finance reform, redistricting, reinstatement of the Voting Rights Act, and a reinvigorated electorate will be necessary for federal level politics to become close to meaningful to the issues that matter most in our community. So you know what? Fuck 'em. Let's roll our eyes at the Koch Brothers, CNN's horserace journalism, and the belief that a political party will save us and decide that if we want to make to fight for meaningful change in our community, there are some bold new ideas coming out at the local level that we should be lining up our boots on the ground to demand a more equitable, inclusive, progressive, thoughtful, verdant model of government. If we're the ones that can ensure our State Senators will support the reinstatement of Inclusionary Zoning in Oregon to fight displacement, if our state can be the first to pass a comprehensive equitable carbon bill and buck national acquiescence to the destruction of our planet, if Oregon can be the first to adopt voter modernization to end Jim Crow-esque voter disenfranchisement, if the Portland region can start to invest money in sidewalks near elementary schools or if the city can commit to never letter another family know the unspeakable horror of traffic violence, well, that's the sort of work I wanna do, and that's the sort of work I can't wait to ask your support for. We're lucky enough to have a lot of friendly faces in Salem for the upcoming legislative session; with your help, we can make sure that they move the needle on a wide variety of issues that gravely matter to the next generation of Oregonians. I'm grateful I get the chance to bust my butt working for two nonprofits that are well-poised to lead on these initiatives, and I'm honored to know so many folks willing to join me in the fight. If you're looking for a way to channel your discontent with last night's results, I'd love it if you took thirty seconds to check out Oregon Walks' letter, cosigned with 24 other organizations, to stand up for a progressive funding mechanism to ensure that East Portland gets some friggin' sidewalks:http://oregonwalks.org/blog/action-alert-support-funding-safe-streets-portland
c) I've been a grump lately. Many of you have tolerated a frumpy, angry, bitter, exhausted, frustrated Aaron Brown, and I owe you all for putting up with it. Cheers to my colleagues, board members, volunteers, coalition-partners, roommates, friends, and family for not rolling your eyes too hard at my occasional despair and cynicism, and kudos to my coworkers for putting up with every slip along the way that came with me falling flat on my face on numerous occasions learning the tricks of the trade as reluctant, aspiring organizer. That pessimism is not who I wanna be; that's not what I want to do with my life. We all have to believe we have the power to enact the change necessary to live in better communities, because the alternative is fatalistically nihilistic, and antithetical to why I wake up in the morning. I'm looking forward to future activism that captures "the fun in the fight" that Molly Ivins famously penned. Hopefully the meaningful change in civic engagement I've outlined above as my blueprint for my work with Oregon Walks and the Bus Project in 2015 will bring about more deliberate, inspired, enjoyable, and successful advocacy for making our state a better place to live, for every one lucky enough to live in Tom McCall's Eden. And hopefully it's inspiring enough that I can count on you to continue to show up to knock on doors, make phone calls, contact your electeds and give your time/money/energy towards meaningful social justice work.
"So keep fightin' for freedom and justice, beloveds, but don't you forget to have fun doin' it. Lord, let your laughter ring forth. Be outrageous, ridicule the fraidy-cats, rejoice in all the oddities that freedom can produce. And when you get through kickin' ass and celebratin' the sheer joy of a good fight, be sure to tell those who come after how much fun it was."
- Molly Ivins
- Molly Ivins