25 October, 2016

The depressing state of politics in southern Oregon

I could count it as another way I've been spoiled by growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area, in addition to the food, diversity, culture, music and art scenes, local shops, and temperate weather—intense political activism. I grew up with a political-mindedness, and my parents didn't even have to brainwash my vulnerable baby-brain to do it. Awareness and advocacy of issues and policies and ideologies of things political is kind of part of the air when you live in the SF area, perhaps due to a combination of contextual history and the necessities demanded of a diverse population that exhorts inclusiveness but continues to to struggle with social/economic oppression.

I moved to southern Oregon 19 months ago, and the political landscape struck me as somewhat similar to California, if on a smaller scale—the larger cities are more liberal while rural areas are more conservative. I've benefited from Oregon public policy, namely the Oregon Health Plan, which has provided me stable health insurance for the first time in years. But I didn't realize how unpolitical things are until I began exploring my electoral options for mayor of Medford.

Two old white men who seem politically similar, neither of whom are very appealing to me, one of whom ran for mayor unopposed four years ago, and who are, actually, friends with one another. What the hell is wrong with this picture?

I know that Oregon is one of the whitest states in the country (something like 88%), but where are the women? There's a woman running for my local state Senator, thankfully, and some women running for city council, but all other women on my local ballot are in positions running unopposed. And what the hell is it about running unopposed—are people that uninterested? How can a mayor in a city this size run without opposition?

While I am interested in—and often passionate about—politics in general, I'd make a horrible politician. I suck at small talk and bullshitting, have a difficult time not saying what I mean, and often struggle with communicating with individuals who refuse to accept reality. I don't mean opposing viewpoints, but people who deny things like SCIENCE and FACTS and DATA and instead consider their personal and/or religious feelings as equal in veracity and value to all of the above.

But the utter lack of interest and involvement in local politics makes me want to run for something—anything, really—just to stir shit up. We need young people, women, and non-whites running for office; we need vibrant public debate and a forum for all voices on the political spectrum; we need choices in elections to confront us with issues that a lack of competition buries from view.

I have no idea how to help make any of this happen. I welcome any ideas, thoughts, or suggestions to help agitate my fellow southern Oregonians. It seems we need it quite desperately.

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