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Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Hey, Supermajority Democrats

posted by on July 18 at 19:52 PM

As the 2007 legislative session came to an end in Olympia this Spring, I started doing a series of posts criticizing the giant Democratic majority for not delivering.

My frustration keeps getting compounded when I see what other legislatures around the country are up to. No payday loans in Georgia. Yes Civil Unions in New Hampshire.

Anyway, today takes the cake. During the 2007 session, my favorite bill was Rep. Dave Upthegrove’s student free press bill, which would have protected high school and college newspapers. The bill failed.

Well, look what happened in Oregon on Friday. From Rep. Upthegrove’s blog:

As many of you know, I authored and sponsored legislation this past legislative session to prohibit censorship of high school and college student newspapers. My bill passed the House but died in the Senate. During the debate, I was interviewed by a columnist for The Oregonian— the daily newspaper in our neighboring state to the South. An Oregon legislator, Rep. Larry Galizio, read the newspaper column about my bill— and as a result, introduced similar legislation in Oregon.

Well guess what? The Oregon bill passed! And on Friday, Oregon Governor Ted Kulongowki signed into law the first measure enacted since 1995 that protects the free press rights of high school students.

A national conservative organization praised the new legislation— showing that censorship knows no ideological bounds.

I’m impressed with the great work of Oregon Rep. Galizio and the other Oregon legislators and certainly plan on talking with them soon to discuss “lessons learned” as we gear up to revisit the issue in Washington next legislative session. Our thanks should go to Governor Kulongowski as well for signing the bill. The Student Press Law Center continues to be a great advocate and the J-IDEAS Programat Ball State University continues to provide a valuable public forum for education and discussion.

It’s kinda cool to know that, although we fell short this year in Washington, our leadership sparked a successful effort in Oregon.

That’s one way of looking at it, Dave.

RSS icon Comments


It's a real shame that Upthegrove's bill wasn't adopted. Any perceived harm student speech might create pales in comparision to the harm created by suppressing their free speech rights. What better lesson to teach our youth then that our society is strong enough to withstand opinion, no matter how outside the mainstream.

Maybe next session?

Posted by Giffy | July 18, 2007 8:23 PM

Uh yeah, try telling that to the Supremacist Court.

Posted by Original Andrew | July 18, 2007 8:30 PM

Jeeeeezus. I just don't get it. The 2006 elections were about as much of a mandate as a party has ever been handed - why on earth the Democratic legislators and Gregoire aren't seizing the opportunity is beyond me.

Posted by tsm | July 18, 2007 8:31 PM

Student rights? Huh?

Posted by BongHits 4 Jesus | July 18, 2007 8:39 PM

I really wanted to see that one pass. My high school, rather the high school I graduated from, is currently dealing with a law suit about this issue. It's near and dear to me.

Here's hoping Upthegrove can pass it next session. :)

Posted by Phelix | July 18, 2007 10:08 PM

All y'all talking about the 2006 elections being a mandate need to pull your heads out of your asses; Democrats are badly split on a number of key issues, and that split is caused by a split in the electorate. Consequently, the "Democratic supermajority" is nothing of the kind; half the Dems in the State and the Federal congresses are effectively part of a third party of what we might call old-school dixicrats; they're a lot more interested in trade policy and increasing rural pork barrel spending than they are in civil liberties and ending the war. It's a mistake to assume that the half of the country that agrees with you about any given subject is the entirety of the Democratic electorate; some of the Democrats that don't support gay marriage or urban density are representing the will of their constituents to the letter.

Meanwhile, by bitching about how spineless the Democrats are, ignorant motherfuckers like the editorial staff of the Stranger enforce the negative images that Republicans use to win elections; don't hand the country over to the Democrats, they're a bunch of pussies who never get anything done.

The reason this is dangerous is that it distracts from what actually needs to happen: urban progressive democrats need to adopt a platform that addresses the needs and desires of those rural dixicrats, and they need to then educate the dixicrats and create consensus around a unified course of action.

But no, don't do that: sit around on the slog and criticize because you're too fucking cool to be useful.


Posted by Judah | July 18, 2007 10:15 PM

Judah you're really confused if you think that referring to rural Democrats as Dixiecrats is a compliment or a way to build common cause between them and Democrats in cities. Dixiecrats were Southern segregationists who split from the Democratic party in 1948 to protest Truman's embrace of civil rights. They effectively scared Congress into killing civil rights movement progress from 1948-60. Most of them still around in the 1960s voted for Goldwater and Nixon before finally abandoning the party altogether in the 1970s.

Posted by wf | July 18, 2007 10:55 PM

WF @7,
Are you me?

Posted by Josh Feit | July 18, 2007 11:06 PM

Yeah WF, believe it or not I was actually aware of that when I used the term-- I didn't just pull it out of my ass. That's the whole point: the people I'm calling dixicrats are actively hostile to a lot of the key planks in the urban progressive platform, so they're willing to trade those points in order to gain concessions from the Republicans on issues where urban Democrats refuse to get in line behind the rural Democratic agenda. If you'd used the time you spent Googling the history of the term to actually think about what the fuck I was saying, the point implied by its use might have impressed itself upon you.

So, just as a hypothetical: why the fuck would a rural Democrat support a civil rights bill that urban Dems are backing when urban Democrats refuse to support the pork barrel highways program that a lot of the rural Democrat's constituents use to pay their bills. Meanwhile, the rural Democrat can trade his or her vote on that civil rights bill to conservative religious Republicans in exchange for support on the highway spending.

The smart play for urban Democrats would be to recognize the needs of the rural Democrat and try to figure out some way to funnel money into that rural district that's more in line with our political goals. For example; if that district has a lot of farming, try to legislate local procurement requirements that would purchase some of those farms' goods at fixed rates over a specified contract period. That gives us local food with fewer food miles and all that other good shit, buys us rural votes and gives us something to sell to the rural Democrat in exchange for his or her vote on our civil rights bill.

But instead of delving into any of that complexity, Josh Feit just gives us the same old bullshit about do-nothing Democrats, enforcing the Republican political campaign and reducing our chances of keeping Democrats in office. Because it's always easier to be a critic than a reporter.

Posted by Judah | July 18, 2007 11:21 PM

Fuck all you commies.

If kids had free speech, we'd see nothing but skateboarding stories, crappy music reviews, and adds for sex work.

Oh wait,

I am thinking of the Stranger. My bad.

Posted by ecce homo | July 19, 2007 2:34 AM

The system is also set up to resist change. From committees to amendments to procedural motions, minorities(party or faction) and individuals can effectively scuttle legislation.

Thats why one session is never enough. In other systems it might be, but not this one. thats why we have to preserve the Dem majority and even expand it. We did get a lot out of this session including a landmark domestic partnership law, a pretty great budget, and the chance to vote on a simple majority for school levies.

Posted by Giffy | July 19, 2007 2:39 AM

How nice for Oregon.

Posted by monkey | July 19, 2007 7:20 AM

Judah's in a bad mood today. Somebody should go give him a hug.

Posted by Anal Buffet | July 19, 2007 10:36 AM


Rural counties already get much more government money than they pay in taxes. They're also practically drowning in agricultural subsidies. We're supposed to give the fuckers more even as they spurn big government?

Posted by keshmeshi | July 19, 2007 10:58 AM

keshmeshi --

No, we should target our subsidies and make sure they're advancing our local agenda. For example a lot of the agricultural subsidies they're getting right now are federal industry subsidies, and don't take local planning into account. There are things we, in the city, need that rural districts can give us. Like wind power. Like biomass plants. Like raw materials for regional manufacturing. Like carbon mitigation. National and international economic concerns have undermined regional planning; that could be reversed.

Also, your attitude about this is rubbish; a lot of the things cities get from rural areas are completely underpriced due to, for example, labor policy: if we phased illegal immigrants out of agriculture and paid domestic farmworkers the minimum wage, the price of agricultural products would skyrocket and real estate values in rural counties would go up as well. This would expand their tax bases so they wouldn't be taking as many handouts from cities. Meanwhile, food prices would radically alter the disposition of income in cities.

The asymmetrical relationship of urban/rural economies is, to some extent, the result of specific policies pursued by corporate interests who basically did to domestic farming what Wal*Mart has done to manufacturing by artificially reducing the prices of goods at market through lobbying and price fixing at distribution bottlenecks. The result is a degraded rural economy that operates significantly beneath market strength in order to support the urban economy (and that's coming back to bite us in the ass, btw; food prices are going up fast, now that the manufacturing economy is being depressed relative to the cost of agriculture).

So copping attitude about rural subsidies, while it's somewhat justified, is also somewhat bullshit.

Think about that the next time you're at the grocery store paying ten cents for an apple that's actually worth a dollar.

Posted by Judah | July 19, 2007 12:16 PM

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