Red county in a blue state: The politics of the disenfranchised

By Jeff Petersen, The Observer November 09, 2012 02:31 pm

“Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer. Let us not seek to fix the blame for the past. Let us accept our own responsibility for the future.”

— John F. Kennedy

Nothing could be finer in the Thanksgiving season than pumpkin snickerdoodle cookies — except for looking at election season in the rearview mirror. 

It’s tough being a red county in a blue state. Coming from a long line of red (Republicans), dating back to when Great-grandpa Anders Christian Gunnar Henry Knud Lars Petersen first set foot on American soil at Ellis Island, I can empathize. I was taught at an early age to be suspicious of the blue (Democrats) with their excessive taxation, regulation and possibly taking away our apple pie. 

Anders may roll in his grave. But today I am an Independent cleverly disguised as a registered Republican. I try to vote the person, not the party. I especially try to avoid voting for the candidate who will give the most entertainment value for the buck. CSPAN, the TV network that covers politics like sagebrush covers Eastern Oregon, does not need to add a laugh track, yet.

During the just completed election season, Facebook became a battle zone. I refused to join the political wars. I am against war of any kind, especially when it involves angry emoticons and defriending.

I won’t miss the missiles being lobbed on Facebook. And I won’t miss the political ads on TV. You know the kind: “Candidate A will lead Oregon down a rathole” immediately followed by “Candidate B, his opponent, kicks puppies and trips grandmas when they try to cross the street.”

Electoral College blues

I am among the 99 percent of people in America who watch too much TV, up to and including the latest game of the Electoral College. This college needs to go the way of the Bowl Championship Series in college football. Whatever happened to one person, one vote? Now if Union County goes for Republican Mitt Romney and Oregon as a whole goes for Barack Obama, the president gets all seven of our votes.  Oregon turns entirely blue.

That seems wrong.

We’d all do well to turn the TV off more often and get up and move, and the political ads gave us plenty of incentive. Sitting, you might have heard, is the next smoking. Experts say we should sit no more than six hours a day — and watch TV no more than 16.

Speaking of numbers, I am not among the 47 percent presidential challenger Mitt Romney suggested want the government to fix all their problems for them while they watch TV.

Of course, voters who briefly turned of their TV to go to the polls might have missed a few of their favorite shows, or maybe most of the fall season, while they waited in long lines. I suggested to my Virginia Facebook friends that they should consider going to vote by mail, like Oregon did several years ago. It’s a much more sane and civilized system — and has less problems with bullies taking cuts.

The election is at last over. It’s time now to bury the hatchet. Not in the opponent’s back. In the backyard, near where we buried our meager savings, since banks are only paying .000001 percent interest these days.

As President Obama begins a second term, we need some economic answers to help us with $3 a gallon milk and $4 a gallon gas. We don’t want those elected to be politicians, to give speeches full of platitudes that last longer than our favorite sitcoms, and are almost as insipid. We want the government to give us working stiffs a fair chance to get ahead — and to help those who can’t help themselves — without bankrupting the country.

It’s time to stop seeing red, and blue, over the election, to roll up our sleeves and get to work making our communities better. If we wait for the government to do it for us, we may be waiting until the cows come home and all the snickerdoodles are long gone.

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