Democracy is a collaborative endeavor. Decisions made democratically should reflect the will of the majority; however, the process by which we reach those decisions must include those who disagree. A fair process results in a more nuanced and thoughtful result, one that accounts for differences of opinion. Furthermore, the perception of a fair process helps increase acceptance of that result. Unfortunately, much of our modern information environment works against a process that includes give and take.
As a high school student living near Washington DC in the early 1990s, I remember one distressing sign of these times. The politicians in my inside-the-beltway neighborhood stopped socializing with their families across party lines, and eventually moved their families back to their home states. Now, anyone from outside of the DC area who wants to work in government has to commit to lengthy absences from their family. Opportunities to build relationships across party lines and learn to understand one another are rare and usually formal. For too many politicians, members of the other party are not the worthy opposition, but the enemy.
When I started my service in the Oregon House, I hoped I was entering a forum of reasoned discussion and compromise. In fact, the structure and traditions of the institution actively prevent that. The practices of the legislature do not allow for the thoughtful public interactions between opposing viewpoints that can lead to compromise and stronger legislation. This lack of give-and-take also deprives the voters of the chance to see collaborative governance, which increases resentment of new legislation.
The echo chamber of modern media disincentivizes collaboration. I feel sorry for my Republican colleagues in some respects. If I vote contrary to the recommendations of stakeholders in the majority, I may lose their financial support or have to explain my vote later. For members of the other party, failure to toe the party line means getting castigated on the Lars Larson Show the next day and upping the odds of a primary challenge. As a society, we seem to have forgotten the distinction between reliable political information and the kind of entertainment provided by Mr. Larson and others. The most aggressive voices in our political discourse are amplified in social media; productive civil discourse is seldom reported. For example, the bipartisan bill Rep. Hayden and I passed in early 2022 to provide dental care to veterans should have been big news. Instead, our statewide media led with stories of division and anger. For the media of all types, if it bleeds, it leads.
These failures to communicate weaken our democracy. Our modern world sometimes requires quick responses to events. When speed is essential, we can respond quickly if we have the sturdy foundation of ongoing positive engagement across political lines-- the relationships among leaders that help us work efficiently and collaboratively, and the sense of trust that each party will act in the best interests of our country as a whole when time does not permit extended deliberation. The sad result of this failure to collaborate is a United States that is often seen by our allies as unreliable and lacking the clear moral purpose that helps us lead internationally.
As the poem says, “…’tis not too late to seek a newer world.” That search doesn’t start with constitutional amendments or legislative chamber rule changes, but rather with individual resolutions to listen to other voices, whether or not we initially agree with them. I’m generally viewed as an environmentalist, but I made an effort to take every tour that resource industries offered. I listened for good ideas and compelling interests that could be accommodated within a larger pro-environmental framework.
We must listen to those we disagree with, if we hope to make progress. It may be true that everyone does not deserve equal attention—some reject the very premise of collaborative democracy. I practice “selective attention,” seeking out the reasonable voices and avoiding those who characterize people with different opinions as foolish or evil. If we learn to listen and discuss, we can build that newer world together.
Free Student Transit Pass from LTD
Area students in Kindergarten through 12th grade are eligible for a free Student Transit Pass, allowing them to ride LTD buses for free. Students who received a free bus pass last year should verify by September 30, 2022 that their pass for the 2022-23 school year is active, to continue riding the bus for free. Students who did not have a pass last year can sign up at their school’s office. Learn more online here.
Eugene Public Library
The Eugene Public Library is seeking input about how the library can meet the needs of people like you. Over the last few years, many of the Eugene Public Library’s resources and services have adapted to meet our community’s changing needs. To plan for the library’s future, your library wants to know what you'd like more of, what's most important to you, and your ideas. The survey will take less than 5 minutes and will be available online through September 2022. Click here to take the survey today!
American Rescue Plan Community Grants
The Lane County Board of County Commissioners voted unanimously to provide a total of $3 million in American Rescue Plan Act funding to support projects at 17 local community organizations.
The grants were made to:
Center for Rural Livelihoods in Oregon (Community Supported Forestry) – $75,000
Centro Latino Americano (Social Services & Community Gardens) – $450,000
Community Sharing Program (Community Service Center Support) – $50,000
DevNW (Economic Recovery & Resilience Post-COVID-19) – $50,000
Florence Food Share (Operations) – $25,000
Kids FIRST (Therapy Program & Medical Expansion) – $260,000
HIV Alliance (Access to Integrated Care to Address Health Disparities) – $257,000
Homes for Good Housing Agency (The Commons on MLK) – $150,000
Lane Arts Council (Arts & Cultural Engagement in Rural Lane County) – $30,000
Looking Glass Community Services (At-Risk Youth Rural Program Renovation Project) – $150,000
McKenzie Valley Long Term Recovery Group (Holiday Farm Fire recovery support) – $400,000
Mid Lane Cares (Fern Ridge Service Center Community Response) – $88,000
Nurturely (COVID-19 Prevention, Education, and Support for Pregnant and Postpartum People and Babies) – $172,000
Ophelia’s Place (Inclusive Mental Health Program for Adolescent Girls) – $175,000
PeaceHealth Sacred Heart Medical Center (Riverbend Institute for Nursing Excellence) – $350,000
SquareOne Villages (Peace Village Co-Op) – $243,000
Volunteers in Medicine Clinic (Operations) – $75,000
More information on the American Rescue Plan Act and the Community Grant Awards may be viewed here.
The new updated bivalent COVID-19 boosters can be administered in Oregon now that the final step in the review and approval process has occurred. The updated boosters are a single dose that can be administered at least two months after completion of an initial two-dose series of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine, or a single dose of the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, or two months after a monovalent booster of the Pfizer or Moderna vaccine.
Vaccinations (including boosters) are available at:
Primary care provider
For individuals who are experiencing symptoms and/or had a recent close encounter with a known positive case may access testing through Lane County Public Health, Linn County Public Health, through your primary care provider, or by using the online lookup tool to find another location near you .
"The echo chamber of modern media disincentivizes collaboration."
"These failures to communicate weaken our democracy."
"We must listen to those we disagree with, if we hope to make progress."
.... I'm thankful that you are speaking out about this now, but where were you 2 years ago? When the Great Barrington Declaration was written? https://gbdeclaration.org/
Over and over again, I heard you parroting the talking points of big pharma and those who are owned by them. (Did no one learn anything from the Oxycodone fiasco?) You did not listen to the multiple epidemiologists, PhD's, MDs, etc etc who where legitimately questioning the policies of lockdowns, masking, boosters for all. Altho many of them were liberal democrat voters, they were all painted with the same brush, and as pushing "misinformation". Two Senior FDA officials resigned in protest last year over the White House recommending boosters- against their medical advice. Why/how did we allow so much power to unelected officials who pushed their own agenda?
Politicization is killing scientific discourse, our medical system, and, it appears, ANYthing that large corporations want to control. Fear is the tool they use. Censorship is increasing, along with blaming and shaming, and cancel culture.
As a 66 year old RN and a life-long liberal-who worked with patients throughout covid, I (until last August 31, when I was "mandated" for the "vaccine". (Yes, its a type of vaccine- but not like anything we've had before, and was totally mis-represented to the public, and more people are finally realizing) I have become completely disillusioned with our two-party system, which had so obviously been corrupted by big $$....
Hope this comment is not censored.
Thanks for listening.