Oregon Democrats: Exercising the Tyranny of the Majority


Democracy is a remarkable organism. It is easily corrupted but tends to be self-healing over time.

In the Sixties we witnessed Pres. Lyndon Johnson manipulate the military intelligence and a compliant Congress to engage in a war commenced sub rosa by his predecessor Pres. John Kennedy. Johnson had no intention of winning but did not want to shoulder the blame for losing; choosing instead to sacrifice tens of thousands of my generation’s young men in pointless combat. A nascent anti-war movement drew popular support and finally forced Johnson successor, Pres. Richard Nixon, to withdraw.

Nixon manipulated the domestic intelligence services and the entire White House hierarchy in an attempt to corrupt the electoral process and insure retention of power. A free press exposed that corruption and a reluctant Congress, emboldened by popular support, did its duty and impeached Nixon. (For those of you who may have forgotten how truly evil and manipulative Nixon was, I invite you to watch former president Charles Logan in the two most recent episodes of Fox’s award winning series “24.”)

President Jimmy Carter introduced the naivete of modern day liberalism to our economy and our foreign policy. The result was double digit “stagflation” and international indecisiveness so acute that a bunch of lunatic ayatollahs and a student mob held the nation hostage for four hundred forty-four days. The disgust with the Carter administration was so palpable that he was turned out of office in an electoral landslide.

Today, runaway spending and growth in government, begun under Pres. George Bush and accelerated under Pres. Barack Obama, have driven the nation to near bankruptcy. It is here that the Democrat super-majority in the Congress emboldened by a neophyte and equally undisciplined president has exposed one of the greatest weaknesses of a democracy. Alex de Touqueville noted:

“The American Republic will endure until the day Congress discovers that it can bribe the public with the public’s money.”

De Touqueville also worried that the “tyranny of a majority” could vote itself a benefit at the expense of the minority.

And those who would corrupt the democratic organism play upon that inherent weakness routinely. Nobody is better at corrupting any process than the public employee unions. That is precisely what happened in Oregon during the recent ratification of the tax increases in Measure 66 and 67. The tax increases were drawn such that the majority of voters would not have to pay them. The campaign for support focused on the “class envy” theme — the rich should pay more to sustain our benefits. From stem to stern, Measures 66 and 67 were designed to exercise the “tyranny of the majority” at the expense the minority.

Oregon’s political scene remains dominated by the pubic employee unions who fund the campaigns of the Democrat party as well as the campaigns for Measures 66 and 67. The cynicism of their campaign was to craft and support a campaign that they knew full well would not effect their members. Their communications emphasized that point.

But even at that, those Oregonians residing outside the bastion of extreme liberalism — Portland and Multnomah County — rejected this corruption of the democratic process. Measures 66 and 67 failed on a statewide basis until Multnomah County delivered an overwhelming seventy-two percent majority in favor of the measures and effectively cancelled out the rejection statewide.

There is a stark contrast in an election soon to be held in Arizona where the pubic employee unions exercise a lot of hand wringing and little influence. Arizona will soon vote on a tax increase. But there a marked difference in both the process leading up to the election as well as in the nature of the tax increase itself.

1. In Arizona the tax increase was crafted by a Republican majority after imposing the fiscal discipline described in the following and without the burden of catering to a constituency that provides the majority of its campaign financing. In Oregon the tax increase was engineered by a Democrat majority and crafted in large part by its financial arm — Oregon’s public employee unions who are the chief beneficiaries of the increase.
2. The tax increase is temporary in Arizona. It is permanent in Oregon.
3. Over $1 Billion has been cut from the current Arizona state budget and nearly $2.5 billion in budget cuts are proposed for the next fiscal year. There were no budget reductions in Oregon — in fact Oregon spending increased unabated.
4. There have been significant reductions in the numbers of Arizona public employees at all levels of government as well as wage reductions for others. Oregon has continued to increase the number of public employees at the state level and salary increases, step increases and benefit increases remain unabated.
5. The tax increase proposed in Arizona is an increase in the sales tax. Every person voting on the tax increase, including all of the public employees, will be effected by and pay their fair share of such a tax increase. Oregon’s tax increase was a tax on income and designed to exclude virtually all public employees and a majority of Oregon’s voters.

One might suggest that the tea party movement is the self-correcting mechanism on a national level. The self-correcting mechanism for corruption of the democratic organism in Oregon is yet to be seen. Intuition suggests that it will come in the form of economic expansion and job creation — or in Oregon’s case, the lack thereof. While Arizona’s economy has begun to expand and over 20,000 jobs have been created since the first of the year, Oregon’s remains moribund and job losses continue.

How Oregon reacts is up to you.

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Posted by at 06:00 | Posted in Measure 37 | 7 Comments |Email This Post Email This Post |Print This Post Print This Post
  • Kirk Benson

    This is exactly why we need to clean house in Washington. We need new leadership with fresh ideas.
    That is why I support Doug Keller, who is running for congress in the 1st Congressional District. Doug is a retired Naval Officer and Naval Academy graduate who comes from a family who lived the American dream through hard work and perseverance. Doug has great ideas and he would represent us well in DC. I encourage you to learn more about him. http://keller4congress.com/platform/

  • Rupert in Springfield

    How Oregon reacts is up to you?

    Im not sure Id agree with that as I think Oregon has reached the tipping point where there are such large constituancies dependant on government that it is virtually impossible for those who pay for government to defeat them.

    In that sense, once such a tipping point is reached there is little one can do.

    This has only gotten worse, and only promises to get worse, with our horrendous economy in this state. I say this because two facts are inarguable – the only job growth is in the public sector, thus growing the depandancy, second – private sector job shrinkage, thus diminishing the pool of those who pay for the dependants.

    Will this turn around?

    I think its highly unlikely near term. No one in their right mind would think someone who was willing to make the level of cuts in spending needed to make the budget sustainable would have a prayer of getting elected. We will have those who will promise partial solutions, mild cuts or fantasy land tax increases, but thats about it.

    Oregons economy will be moribound for longer than it should be. Those depandant on the economy statewide should be worried.

  • Bob Clark

    There is still hope in the next ten years regarding diminished government employee union dominance. California and other parts of the country are turning to non-union based education resources, such as charter schools and on line private schools. It wasn’t too long ago California was trying to outlaw non public school options.

    Regarding the near term:
    It is sad Portland Public School District is moving to restrict the transfer of students between its learning facilities. This is exactly what’s wrong with public education. It wants to build a wall around children’s educational opportunities when government should be encouraging a robust competition for quality education (private, public non union, public union, home school, on line, etc).

  • Joe Stecklein

    A self-consuming cancer the Oregon voters seem unable to stop. We will ALL soon pay the price!

  • eagle eye

    The solution? Elect some candidates who think along your lines. With opposition like Kitzhaber and Bradbury, in the midst of an awful recession, if you can’t do it now, you probably never can.

    OK, Larry, you mention how great a sales tax is. Get that passed in Oregon!

    I suggest, though, that running against majority rule — call it “the tyranny of the majority” if you like — isn’t going to get you very far in Oregon.

  • valley p

    “But even at that, those Oregonians residing outside the bastion of extreme liberalism – Portland and Multnomah County – rejected this corruption of the democratic process. Measures 66 and 67 failed on a statewide basis until Multnomah County delivered an overwhelming seventy-two percent majority in favor of the measures and effectively cancelled out the rejection statewide.”

    I don’t think so. as I recall, 66 and 67 won not only in Multnomah but also in Washington, Hood, Columbia, Clatsop, Lincoln, Lane, and a few other counties.

    “In Arizona the tax increase was crafted by a Republican majority..”

    So tyranny of the majority is ok in Arizona but not in Oregon?

    “One might suggest that the tea party movement is the self-correcting mechanism on a national level. ”

    One might be delusional. The Tea party is the right wing of the republican party. Not large enough to cause a national self correction. And besides, the Tea Party, such as it is, has no program whatsoever to reduce spending. All the sacred cows remain intact: SSI, Medicare, the military, farm subsidies, and more. Shoe me a tea party platform that says otherwise.

    “Im not sure Id agree with that as I think Oregon has reached the tipping point where there are such large constituancies dependant on government that it is virtually impossible for those who pay for government to defeat them. ”

    Factually challenged. There are probably no more public employees in Oregon today percent wise than there were 2 decades ago.

    “second – private sector job shrinkage, thus diminishing the pool of those who pay for the dependants.”

    Wrong on 2 counts. First, private sector job growth has bottomed out and is headed back up. Second, government workers also pay taxes, including SSI and Medicare taxes that support geezer tea partiers.

    “I suggest, though, that running against majority rule — call it “the tyranny of the majority” if you like — isn’t going to get you very far in Oregon. ”

    Nor in any other democratic country. In Iran or North Korea you can avoid worrying about the majority. Not here. Your job is to convince a majority you are right.

  • cna training

    My cousin recommended this blog and she was totally right keep up the fantastic work!

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