“And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle?” 1 Cor. 14:8
Dispirited. Conservatives in Oregon are staring down the barrel of Democratic supermajorities in both House and Senate, and a radically “progressive” Governor. Multi-billion dollar tax increases and a big loss of liberty will be the result, as surely as night follows day. While New York just leapfrogged us as the new worst in class state in baby-killing, we are now the first state in the union with state-wide rent control, a flat-out attack on private property and free market contracts.
There are multiple causes for this clear defeat. Changing demographics, an ineffective Republican Party, the influx of progressives drawn here by our radical left politics, a strong union driven Democrat voter identification and mobilization effort, and the blue mini-wave, to cite a few. Considered this way, things could have been much worse!
It was clear during the campaign that Republicans were already dispirited before the election, uneasy with their candidate for Governor. This was due in part to a sort of “me too” flavor to the race. Kate’s for abortion? Knute said, “me too.” Kate’s for same-sex marriage, Knute said “me too.” Kate was all about public schools. Knute said, “me too.” Kate was for more gun control. Knute seemed to be saying “Me too.” Kate had disdain for President Trump. Knute said, “Me too”, saying he hadn’t voted for Trump, but had written in John Kasich(!), a Republican significantly disliked by most conservatives. Knute’s take on Trump likely won him few if any Democrat votes, but surely lost him some Republican votes. Knute seemed to be asking for our support so he could be a more effective Kate.
Now, Knute is who he is, and he is a good man and a public servant. He won the primary fair and square. This blog is not an attempt to malign him in any way. He did vote for Kasich, and I am sure he did it with very good intentions. But elections are about passion. Democrats were not passionate about Kate, but they sure are passionate about sending a message of their hatred for Trump. Support for Knte seemed to this observer to be virtually without passion. A candidate doesn’t have to be openly in support of the Republican President and various conservative positions, but neither can he seem to be dismissive even disdainful of them. In 2014 Dennis Richardson broke the long drought of Republican state-wide office holders despite his personal views in opposition to abortion and same-sex marriage. He didn’t bring these positions to the campaign, but most people knew his views.
We should not despair based on this latest election, but we should think and talk towards evaluating our shortcomings, and planning strategies that will win. But despair is just what many conservatives in Oregon are feeling. Elections are an opportunity to articulate values and cast a vision that inspire people. To do that, we need a choice, not an echo. We need a standard bearer with an inspiring standard. One who will articulate clear strong positions that bespeak liberty and conservative values. Even if such a candidate loses, he will have won if the end result is an empowered minority ready to articulate such a vision to their friends and neighbors. We need candidates who will sound a clear trumpet blast.