Before moving to the upper Hood River Valley, in September 2016, I had a favorable impression of incumbent congressman Greg Walden (R-OR2). Yet, coming that November, I did not vote for him.
Time, proximity, and information had made me reconsider. I did not want to enable a Congressional majority of the party that was nominating a presidential candidate unfit for office. But I still hoped that Walden was—in the vein of late senators Mark Hatfield (R-OR) and John McCain (R-AZ)—a man of convictions rooted on love for his state and on belief in fairness and balance, for whom country came before party.
Alas, I have been disappointed. Unlike Hatfield would and McCain did, Walden has not condemned this administration on its lack of moral compass and civility. He pushed for (failed) legislation to replace the Affordable Care Act, and has since weakened ACA without a constructive alternative. He was instrumental in passing tax reform that makes our society less fair and balanced. He has no constructive positions on immigration, poverty, climate change and more.
His recent interest in opioids and forest fires is justified. But should we not expect more timely, sensible and informed proposals on these topics from a 20-year incumbent who chairs the Committee on Energy and Commerce? Aren’t his campaign contributions from the pharmaceutical industry a conflict? Shouldn’t forest thinning be firmly placed in context of science, changing climate and growing population?
Perhaps most disappointing, Walden has progressively become unresponsive to his constituents, just as opposition to him grows. He has avoided open forums. For long, he did not follow up on the promise to debate his Democratic opponent. He eventually did, but in a single debate that, although substantive, was limited in time, depth and scope.
Jamie McLeod-Skinner offers a strong contrast: She transcends party lines, embodies civil engagement and listens broadly with an open mind.
Republicans in the District would benefit from knowing McLeod-Skinner and encouraging Walden to debate her. She deserves it. They do, too!
The Democratic leadership should consider Oregon’s Second Congressional District in play. Yes, Walden has won easily for two decades. But McLeod-Skinner has mounted an impressive campaign, and Democrats in the District are likely to show unusual strength by voting in mass for their most viable candidate in decades.
If Democrats do their part, and some Republicans choose effective representation over party, then non-affiliated voters will play a key role in the November election. They should: Voting for McLeod-Skinner speaks for less partisan government, cultural changes in Congress, and a return to civility. It means far more than voting for a party’s nominee.
No amount of frustration with partisan politics should jeopardize our voting power, fellow non-affiliated voters. Please join me in voting McLeod-Skinner!