I am always struck by the irony of the voter’s willingness to send Democrats to public office when the Democrats’ stated agenda is diametrically opposed to the voters’ most recent expressions of public policy. In the past five years the voters have twice turned back massive tax increases (Measures 28 and 30), overwhelmingly approved a constitutional provision restricting marriage as between one man and one woman (Measure 36), and, by an even greater margin, approved a substantial reform of land use regulation that requires the state to either pay for the taking of the use of one’s property or refrain from the taking (Measure 37).
Perhaps it is the low esteem in which voters hold Republicans after listening to their promises of fiscal responsibility, efficient government and less government intrusion on personal lives and then seeing them fail to deliver on any of them. Having said one thing and done the opposite, the Republicans must take the blame for the two largest tax increases in the history of the state, the unprecedented growth in government expenditures and the excessive health and retirement benefits for the public employee unions. Don’t get me wrong, these were all Democrat initiatives but the Republicans were in control. Even with virtually every Democrat voting for these “tax and spend” initiatives (and they did), they still required the complicity of the Republicans to give them a majority vote.
Now the Democrats are in control of both houses of the legislature and every statewide elected office. And what are their goals? Why to undo everything that you, the voters, have approved over the last five years. Frankly, there isn’t anything else of significance that they have tried to pass.
The Democrats have already passed a $300 million tax increase and are on their way to adopting several other smaller tax increases. This comes at a time in which existing sources are already producing more than $2 billion more than in the previous biennium. And, by the way, they are busily spending that money hiring more public employee union members.
The Democrats have introduced Senate Bill 2 to extend the benefits of marriage to same sex couples despite the passage of Measure 36. Look, I don’t oppose the idea of allowing same sex couples the ability to designate by contracts the relationship and rights of their partners. If they do so, I think the state ought to recognize those contractual elements. What I do oppose is the wholesale transfer of marital rights to same sex couples without the slightest bit of understanding as to the results of such a transfer.
It has taken over 3,000 years of biblical, statutory and common law to define the rights and obligations of marriage. That work continues even today. These rights and obligations involve the entire body of law that defines relationships between marital couples, including marriage, divorce, children (custody, control, adoptions and obligations), privilege, liabilities, inheritance, intestate succession, bankruptcy, creditor relations, pension rights, property rights, and on and on and on. Whether you support or oppose gay marriages, this is probably the most irresponsible means of legislating since the advent of statehood.
The Democrats have also introduced a slew of legislative bills to basically gut the popular Measure 37. And this is the one I really don’t get. What has happened in the intervening time between the adoption of Measure 37 in November of 2004 and now that requires the discarding of the rights under Measure 37? Only about 1.2 percent of Oregon is currently developed. Yes, that’s right. Only 1.2 percent or 730,000 acres of 61 million acres are developed. If every Measure 37 claim is approved (and they won’t be) and if every acre of every Measure 37 claim winds up being developed (and they won’t), the total acreage developed in Oregon will still be less than 1.2 percent. The only thing that has happened is that the Democrats and their radical environmental supporters have gained the upper hand and are about to teach you ignorant voters a lesson — you aren’t smart enough to deal with land use issues.
And finally, the Democrats have introduced legislation to hinder your use of the ballot initiative. Apparently voters have been irresponsible in passing Measures 28, 30, 36 and 37. You have demonstrated that you can’t be trusted with public policy, that you are not sophisticated enough to understand what is best for you, that you cannot be trusted to use the ballot initiative correctly. As a result, the Democrats intend to take its use away from you.
What a mess.