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Entries in YouTube (2)

Wednesday
Jun262013

Wendy Davis Filibuster Couldn't Happen Here

The high stakes drama that unfolded on the Texas Senate floor Tuesday night had the makings of unending intrigue for political science junkies — a live talking filibuster, procedural motions galore, raucous crowds in the gallery and a bill dealing with the most politically divisive issue in America today: abortion.

Watching the debate on YouTube reminded me why I got into state politics to begin with — the consequences of decisions are so immediate to citizens, the forum is accessible and the drama is so real.

The debate evoked memories of “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington” as Texas Senator Wendy Davis stood for more than 11 hours — with no water, no leaning and a warning after a colleague helped adjust her back brace — speaking against Senate Bill 5.

Facebook and Twitter came alive with comments and support for Davis. YouTube registered thousands of views as a growing number of people watched the proceedings on the Texas Senate floor as if it were a New Year's Day bowl game.

Adding to the excitement was the clock — if the debate could extend past midnight in Austin, the anti-abortion bill would die under the rules of the Texas legislative special session. As the clock neared midnight, Texans in the gallery took to their feet to disrupt proceedings for the remaining 15 minutes, which ultimately killed the bill. Truly, a storybook ending to this amazing story of political suspense and maneuvering.

For all of the excitement in Texas and the adoration heaped on Senator Davis as a result of her filibuster, the reality in Oregon is such a showdown could not occur here. The arcane rules of procedure that govern the Oregon House and Senate provide very specific processes for debate — none of which allow a filibuster. In both Oregon chambers, members are limited to five minutes of discussion in debate.

Under limited circumstances, they can speak longer, but under no circumstances can a member go on for 10 hours to stop debate on a bill. Oregon also limits the ability of the minority to amend bills on the floor, withdraw measures from committee or prevent the orderly completion of business.

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Tuesday
Jul242012

Oregon's Virtual Presidential Campaign

Oregon isn't a presidential battleground state, which means it has been reduced, in the phrasing of The Oregonian's David Sarasohn, to the role of "campaign ATM."

President Obama made a pit stop in Portland today to appear at a pair of fundraisers. His plane's vapor trail lingered longer than he did. The national press corps was here long enough, though, to scarf down some VooDoo donuts.

Obama followed in the footsteps of Republican challenger Mitt Romney, who has visited Oregon twice to collect campaign cash. Romney stayed longer because he scheduled more fundraising events. 

Neither candidate has staged a public event or submitted to an interview with local reporters to comment on issues of interest to Oregonians. Obama's visit was originally to include a grassroots event, but the shooting in Theater 9 in Colorado led to a schedule disruption. He did make a short stop at a breakfast place and visited with some veterans.

In previous election cycles, Oregon has been a state in play, attracting candidates from both major parties and often those from minor parties, such as the Green Party’s Ralph Nader. But the 2012 presidential election, so entertaining and unexpected in the GOP primary season, has turned into a predictable trench war targeting a shrinking number of undecided voters in a handful of battleground states. 

The election may be a foregone conclusion before the major party nominating conventions officially select the candidates in late August and early September. Naturally, both nominating conventions are on the other side of the continent.

So far, Oregonians haven't complained much about the presidential political slight. One reason is they have been spared the annoyance and anger sparked by endless attack ads, many funded by shadowy groups with unknown donors.

It is true, the absence of presidential attention has meant our job-producing manufacturing sector has gone largely unnoticed at press conferences and photo opportunities, which could produce memory-making pictures for their company walls.

Political operatives are quick to assure Oregonians they haven't been forgotten or, for that matter, taken for granted. Our votes count, even if the political assumption is that they already have been cast.

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