My Open Letter to the Chair of the Democratic Party in Oregon

Given the recent Town Halls and most especially the DNC Chairman elections, I think this especially fitting to post now. This was originally mailed, handwritten to the Oregon Democratic Chair on February 18, 2017.

February 17, 2017

Frank Dixon, Chairman — Democratic Party of Oregon

Mr. Dixon.

I address you as a concerned Oregon Democrat. More than that, I address you as someone who is increasingly feeling disenfranchised by the Democratic Party, particularly here in Oregon. I look to you as the Chair of our party for guidance and reassurance. I don’t need to tell you that these are troubling times. That is why my purpose for writing you is especially worrisome.

Let me first state, I am not just another half-baked nutter pestering working officials to push a conspiracy theorist agenda. I am a well-informed constituent with a voice and the skills to use it.

I’ve been looking for employment since I moved to the Metro area. This led me to investigate the Oregon Democratic Party among so many other options. I was certain that I could lend my talents of writing and rhetoric, sociology and semiotics, as well as more technical marketing and digital skills to the party in order to help promote our agenda more successfully. I had no intention of asking them for a job, only for guidance as to whom in Oregon might be looking for someone like me with my skill set. Approaching the executive team has been nothing short of a miserable failure.

I called Mr. Martin. No answer, no reply. I emailed Mr. Martin. No response. I called Rachel Barnett. No response. I drove to headquarters. Neither of them were in nor did either respond to my request for contact. I visited again and met Rachel this time. She told me she had received a call from a “crazy guy” who left a message and asked if I was him. Point of fact, I’m not. She must not have been convinced because she didn’t respond. She did promise that she would get up with me and we would meet for coffee to discuss potential opportunities.

I called her, twice, before I got her on the phone and was quickly dismissed. I drove up to see her once again. My husband bakes cookies, a lot, and sent me with some of his signature variety — chocolate orange — as a “please don’t think I’m crazy or stalking you” gift. They apparently didn’t work because her assertion that she would contact me the following week has gone unfulfilled. Subsequently, my follow up email after the cookies has also been ignored.

My husband and I worry every day about the future legality of our marriage, reassured only by the fact that Oregon allowed same-sex marriages before the Feds did. We worry about our friends of color, friends of non-Christian faiths, and our mothers, sisters, and female friends rights to make their own decisions and equal pay. The current state of our federal government is appalling. Our reputation on the world stage is getting weaker by the hour. State and local governments are experiencing large “alt-right” growth and the actions of the national GOP only serve to embolden conservatives at the local and state levels. Consider this:

Oregon’s own history has not always reflected the progressive “blue” ideals we have come to be known for. It wasn’t until 1926 that black people could even move to Oregon legally, let alone live or work here. Look how far we have come; then look how far the rest of the state has truly come. Portland, this wonderful bastion of progressive ideals serves as the home and majority of what makes Oregon blue. I have lived in Klamath and visited Southern and Eastern Oregon frequently. Red is far more dominant outside our Metro bubble than I think most of us want to admit. What happens if Oregon begins to swing back to the right?

Many, maybe even you, may “tsk” and say “that’ll never happen”, but much of the U.S. and the world said Trump would never get elected. So here’s my issue:

It has become apparent to me that Oregon, specifically the Democratic Party (because I haven’t brushed with the Republicans yet), feels so comfortable in its “blueness” that it can seemingly ignore the “little people”. The little people you may be wondering are the voters like me and my husband. We are the ones who donate to the cause but only a few dollars here and there when we can. We are the ones who pay attention to the news, follow what our elected officials do and say with tenacity. We write letters. We make phone calls. We forward emails. We post to Facebook and Twitter. We chat and debate with our friends. We makes signs and we march. Boy can we march. We do what we can because that is what we can afford to do. We can’t respond to all the emails sent to us each week asking, nay shaming us, for donations.

What does someone like me need to do to get heard? I’m not a big donor. I’m not the son of a prominent attorney, politician, or socialite. I’m not even any of those things myself. What I am is an academic with the power of linguistic legerdemain and the savvy to employ them strategically. Perhaps, if the ODP isn’t interested in me and what I can do, I can utilize my superpowers for the benefit of those interested in We the People. A third party, or maybe even a fourth or fifth, is what our political system needs to ensure that everyone is served.

I welcome your thoughts and feedback.


Rob Shaffer — A Concerned “Democrat”