Are we there yet?
One good reason to vote early is to enable oneself to forget about election politics for a couple of weeks. Campaigns always get tiresome by the end, but this time around in Portland and Oregon, the late-inning proceedings are taking some especially ugly turns.
Take mayoral candidate Tom Potter. He's livid (or at least saying that he's livid) that there's a political action committee with his name on it (Go Potter Go Committee) running around endorsing a candidate in the Fish-Adams City Council contest. Potter has steadfastly avoided picking a horse in that race, and he says it's wrong for the PAC to appropriate his name and then take a stand that he doesn't support.
I agree with him, but I'm not sure what the solution is. Surely he had no objection to the PAC using his name when his own race was the only one the PAC was speaking out on. So it's not the use of his name per se that's the problem. What should the rule be, then? That a PAC with a candidate's name on it can't take stands in other races? Or that it can't take those stands without the named candidate's permission? Potter may be right, but fashioning a remedy implicates some sensitive free-speech issues.
Then there's the guy who's been inserting parody position statements about statewide ballot measures into the Oregon Voter's Pamphlet. For example, under the discussion of Measure 36, which would ban gay marriage, this author, N. Dennis Moore (his or her real name?), has filed -- as the first several statements "in favor" -- some wicked send-ups of the arguments of the measure's backers.
"Marriage is not sacred," he says. "Marriage is for wimps and sissies!"
Oregon public policy should define marriage in accordance with divinely inspired Scripture. Therefore, marriage licenses should be granted only to those persons who have been certified by professional psychiatric examination to be too weak-willed to abstain from sex.
Oh, by the way, although Jesus never said a single word condemning homosexuality, if heterosexuals can't get married, homosexuals shouldn't be allowed to marry either—well, unless they're too weak-willed to abstain. Sissies!
The sissy institution of marriage must not be perverted by sinners who are capable of abstaining! The sacred union of church and state must prohibit the immoral union of men and women capable of the discipline of sexual abstinence. We are not saved by either faith or good works. We are saved by religious-right legislation!
Freedom of religion and equal treatment under law is simply the special right to sin, because our tradition is the one and only truth! And our tradition (that is, our personal moral opinions) should become law.
AGREE WITH US OR BURN IN HELL!
Another Moore statement "in favor" proclaims: "Traditional morality must become Oregon public policy. All of it. And the older the tradition, the better. The separation of church and state be damned. " Elsewhere, he shouts, "VOTE TO TURN THE CLOCK BACK!" and "LEAVE IT TO BEAVER!"
Funny stuff, to some of us. And no doubt someone paid the requisite fee to have these messages printed in the pamphlet. But is rapier wit what we want of that document? Moreover, is it right that someone who clearly wants a measure to fail can publish an argument against that measure in the "pro" section of the pamphlet, by couching it as a parody of the proponents' position?
I don't think so. Sooner or later, this sort of thing will get completely out of control, and something will have to be done. But again, fashioning a remedy will be a tricky business.
Which is why the Mrs. and I are going to get out the No. 2 pencils and get our ballots out of here soon. Whereupon we'll be free, if we wish, to ignore the sad and homely political process until the long-awaited night of reckoning, Nov. 2, 2004.