The Core Question

There’s a question that haunts too many lawmakers as they’re about to cast an important vote: “What will my biggest campaign funders think of this?”

Clearly we have to change the question. Before every important vote in Salem, I’ll ask myself this question instead: “Of the choices in front of me, which will be best for my children and grandchildren?”

It’s all about regaining something we’ve lost: balance

Economic

Plenty of us remember living in a country and state that balanced financial rewards for individual enterprise and initiative with fairness and widespread opportunity for everyone willing to work hard. It was a time when CEOs were pretty satisfied making 25 times, not 300-500 times, as much their lowest-paid workers, and paid a much higher tax rate than their workers did. If they didn’t exactly love their tax obligation, they generally accepted it as a fair trade for their success. They didn’t pay armies of lobbyists to cut upper-end rates and gut regulation. And we didn’t have millions of full-time workers living in poverty, choosing at the end of the month between paying the rent or feeding their families. The old economy wasn’t perfect, but it worked for a broad majority of Americans. It was balanced.

Environmental

Plenty of us remember living in a country that balanced our use of natural resources with a determination that our children and grandchildren would have plenty for their needs. The people in charge paid attention to a unifying principle that’s defined human beings for centuries: we will leave the world a better place—at the very least, no worse--for our children.

How are we doing on that score?

If we’re honest we’ll admit to falling down when it comes to grappling with the record-hot summers and record-fierce wildfires and smoke saturation that climate change brings. Or with steady decimation of our wild fish runs. Or with the annual loss of mountains of topsoil. Or with the continual spread of toxic chemicals on forests, farmlands and waterways. So can we truthfully say we’ve carried on our ancestors’ dedication to doing right by our children?

Most Oregonians agree that we’re not, and that we can do better. One vital step is to elect more leaders who steadily ask themselves the question:

Of the choices in front of me, which will be best for my children and grandchildren?

That’s what I will do in Salem.