Boldly Champion Progressive Values

A Message to Oregon’s Legislators

As it begins the 2017 session, Oregon’s state legislature has published an initial budget draft featuring significant reductions in key services. The values this budget is founded on are not the values of Oregon’s citizens. The great jurist Louis Brandeis called our states the laboratories of democracy*, meaning that when a state charts a certain course, other states can draw lessons from observing the outcome of that course. At present, there are many states controlled by conservative legislators, and since elections have consequences, many of those states are implementing very conservative fiscal policies. But elections must likewise have consequences in states that choose to elect progressive majorities, such as ours. Oregon is one of just six states in the entire nation where voters have given the Democratic Party control of the governorship and both houses of the legislature. So if we do not champion social liberalism and care for the disadvantaged, who will? We have a responsibility to promote Oregon values, to show the nation what good can be accomplished when we reject the seemingly endless rounds of ever-increasing cuts to lifesaving programs. A refusal to stand up for these values — and more importantly a refusal to stand up for the real people affected by government cuts — would be a betrayal of the sacred trust we put in our representatives.

*From Justice Brandeis’ dissent in New State Ice Co v. Liebmann (1932): “a single courageous state may, if its citizens choose, serve as a laboratory; and try novel social and economic experiments without risk to the rest of the country.”

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