Republicans Suck!

Embrace pervasive political polarization

Hello, dear readers. I’ve missed you. A few of you, at least three, have asked my thoughts on the Democratic presidential candidates and the prospects of a possible bipartisan kumbaya in the Feb. 3 Oregon legislative short session.

I’m cautiously pessimistic — energized enough to work hard to defeat any crazy Republican regime, but depressed about the internal partisan divides created by the single-issue folks within the Democrats both federally and in Oregon.

Recently I contacted a “conservative” R to see if it was worth the effort to talk to the other side. Touchy-feely pundits preach that if we Ds just listened outside our own echo chambers and shared our feelings with Rs, we wouldn’t be so damn polarized. 

So I called my logger friend, Buck, a straight shootin’, Hillary hatin’, climate-change denyin’ right wingnut. Reminds me of an intelligent Jerry Ritter. Anyway, he knows I’m a snowflake — a Molly Ivins/Peter DeFazio lovin’ Democrat, public sector union left wingnut. 

The call started out friendly enough; I asked Buck to refer me to a local log truck driver to haul off some of our fallen timber from the 2017 ice storms. He gave me a name and told me I would need to negotiate between the trucker and the mill owner over the delivery of the logs.

I said: “Dude, are you kidding me? I served 10 years in the Legislature and 20 years negotiating labor contracts. I know better than to get between a trucker and a mill owner.”

He responded: “Yeah, you’re probably right, you’d be out of your league. I’d rather see you back in D.C. fighting against Nasty Nancy and Shitty Shifty Schiff and ending their attack on our beloved leader.”

I took a deep breath and, with all due respect, replied: “You’re probably right, Bucko. Maybe while I’m back in D.C. I’ll set up a meeting with Moscow Mitch and Dogshit Devin Nunes and we’ll all go visit your fuckin’ hero in the tax fraud hoosegow!”

We had a good laugh.

As for the 2020 Democratic presidential primary and Oregon’s legislative short session: I agree with Ezra Klein’s recent op-ed in The New York Times. Democrats are restrained by diversity and democracy. Republicans are not. Democrats have so many “other sides” within the party that we have to be careful about polarized politics. 

In recent decades the Democratic Party has moved left, and the Republican Party has moved right. Democrats have become more diverse, urban, young and secular, and the Republican Party has become a vehicle for whiter, older, more-Christian and more-rural voters. These ideological and demographic changes have not affected the two parties symmetrically.

Democrats can’t win running the kinds of campaigns and deploying the kinds of tactics that succeed for Republicans. They can move to the left — and they are — but they can’t abandon the center or, given the geography of American politics, the center-right, and still hold power.

Republicans don’t play by the same rules. Consider the 4th Congressional District. Do you want to focus on a Democratic primary with a skilled and proven incumbent, Peter DeFazio, or replace him because he’s too old, too experienced or too male? Or are we better off focused on defeating Alex Skarlatos, a Trump loyalist who will be the likely winner of the Republican primary?

The presidential primaries are still in front of us, Oregon’s is 100 days away on May 19. So the picture’s pretty murky right now. From Bernie to Buttigieg, from Biden to Warren. There will be a lot of brokering either before or during the convention in Wisconsin in mid-July.

We saw this same tactical issue in the last legislative session. Democrats with super-majorities in both chambers rammed through proposals on climate change and gun control on a partisan basis. They ignored the center and the center right.

When they also proposed outlawing coyote killing, the Senate Republicans walked out. This time, the House Republican minority showed up with a new leader, Christine Drazan. She led the coup that dislodged former leader Carl Wilson last year because he didn’t walk out in support of the senate minority! Good luck negotiating with her, Speaker Tina Kotek.

That said, this is my third impeachment proceeding, and all I can say is, “Holy shit!” Moscow Mitch and his moribund Republican senators — their complicity in this fraud of a trial — will be what historians write about 50 years from now. I do think Trump will go to prison for tax fraud.

Stay tuned.

Tony Corcoran of Cottage Grove is a former state senator and a retired state employee.