Our Klamath Basin Water Crisis
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Whitsett on urban legislators' agenda for rural Oregonians
Oregon Senator Doug Whitsett's talk on KFLS July 14, 2008
Well more than 80% of Oregonís people live within 20 miles of the Willamette River.
Rightfully, more than 80% of their representation is elected from that same small area.
These people, and their elected legislators, are focused on how economic and regulatory outcomes affect that small heavily populated area of the state.
The fact of the matter is that many of these urban legislators have never traveled outside of that area, and have little knowledge of the culture, economy, and lifestyle of rural Oregonians.
This lack of knowledge causes them to be vulnerable to the incessant rhetoric of environmental and anti-capitalist factions that are effectively destroying our rural natural resource based industries.
The direct result is that economic and regulatory decisions made by this urban majority, decisions that may be perfectly appropriate for the Willamette River corridor, are often neither appropriate nor in the best interest of Oregon citizens who live in the other 85% of the state.
This longstanding situation has created a political divide, a divide that is difficult to overcome for the rural legislators who represent the citizens who live in this vast geographic area.
These rural legislators find it hard to advance legislation that is beneficial to the areas they represent, or to prevent legislation that is harmful to their areas, because collectively they have only about 20% of the votes.
That reality is not going to change.
Moreover, this is more than just an urban rural divide.
It also encompasses differing conservative and liberal beliefs, as well as contradictory Democrat and Republican ideals and political agendas.
The alignment of these three paired factions is not perfect.
There is a significant overlap, and some distinctly different points of view within these factions.
We believe that enough overlap exists in these political thought processes to create coalitions that can successfully advance some rural agendas.
Our office is actively working with a group of legislators to bring the more conservative legislators from both parties together to address many of these divisive issues.
We are also working to bring conservative natural resource based lobby interests together to collectively work to resolve the same issues.
Finally, a coalition of non-urban county and legislative interests is currently being formed to advance the natural resource based economic interests of rural Oregon citizens.
These forming coalitions will only be successful if we understand, and accept, the imperfect alignment of the paired factions.
We must learn to allow ourselves to agree to disagree on subjects that are divisive within the several coalitions.
When we focus on agendas where we have consensus, or a strong majority in favor, we are able to create a voting block that can make a difference.
We can create an alternative to voting with the urban party majority, a voting alternative that favors rural issues.
Perhaps the most important outcome to date has been the realization that the conservative natural resource based rural factions all face similar pressures, similar inappropriate rules, and similar destructive mandates.
When we actually travel to other parts of the state to meet together, and to discuss our local problems, the similarities become immediately apparent.
The pressures that are relentlessly destroying our rural economies, cultures and lifestyles are originating with the same, or similar, environmental and anti-capitalist organizations.
Unfortunately, many of these organizations are closely aligned with state and federal regulatory agencies.
Whether its their efforts to lock up coastal resources in marine reserves on the Oregon Coast, or their efforts to prevent the use of abundant Columbia River water to irrigate some of the most productive lands on earth, their plan of action and their purpose are the same.
That stated purpose is to exclude humane use of our abundant natural resources in the name of preservation of the earth, and supposedly for the benefit of future generations.
I believe their real purpose is to replace our free market economy with socialism.
As I have often said, the nouns and verbs in their rhetoric to displace humans from the land are virtually the same; the only variables are the adverbs and adjectives that hide their true purpose.
Understanding these simple facts makes it much easier to gather collective support for our local rural issues.
In short, I believe that more and better communication between rural political and business leaders is the key to resolving the urban rural divide.
Moreover, our ability to work together across the state will be our only hope to reduce the strangle hold currently employed by the environmental anti-capitalist factions.
Page Updated: Thursday May 07, 2009 09:14 AM Pacific
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