This was, I grant you, a small though brave force back in March 2015. But it was a big deal for its time and place. Oregon is one of America's mostly-empty places. Lots of beautiful vistas of mountains and sea, vineyards and orchards, roiling rivers and mighty forests. The people are few, scattered, and hard-working. There is only one city—Portland, which isn't really big but puts on a brave front.
This march in Oregon is America the powerful. A nation of people whom the rest of the world and Donald Trump do not understand. Oregon is typical of many American states in being rural. But it's not hiding from today's world and the changes that demography is bringing. Its people are strong and capable.
Whenever I get discouraged I think of this picture of the folks walking that road along the tracks. It gives me hope and peace and light in these last years of my life. What a great group, great picture, and great hope to close out my life. I can leave, knowing America is in good hands.
For Oregonians are very American — tough, resilient and self-reliant. They illustrate two stories which in turn illustrate the American "can do" character. First is one from the Gold Rush of 160 years ago. On mountain sides in Nevada and California, the gold-seekers enacted laws about how claims were to be established and maintained so as to avoid violence. There in the wilderness they devised their own government and its rules, and the mining laws they produced became the law of mining thereafter.
The other story is from WWII. Whenever German or British vehicles broke down — tanks, staff cars, trucks — the German and British soldiers simply abandoned them. When American vehicles broke down, the US soldiers got out and fixed them.
Our federal government now is broken and our democracy could be dying. A totally inadequate man will become president in two days, not elected by a majority but chosen through a broken system, the now-infamous "electoral college".
The Congress is likewise not representative of a majority. The Democrats got the most Congressional votes nationwide by one million in 2012, even after the gerrymandering of 2010, but have been consistently denied control of the House of Representatives. In 2016 the Democrats polled just 1.1% fewer votes nationally for House seats but were allotted 24% fewer seats!
Similarly, the minority party's appointees have ruled the Supreme Court for 59 years. Last year, defying the Constitution, the GOP-controlled Senate blocked the nation's majority party and its president from filling the current vacancy. Thus the control of the Court by the minority party will continue, the same Court that has upheld voter suppression laws enacted by the minority party after it gerrymandered itself into unbreakable control of the House of Representatives and many state legislatures. Like no other time in our history since the pre-Civil Rights era has a Supreme Court so assiduously worked to deny voting rights.
In short, America's system of selecting its government is broken. Our democracy is broken.We have lost what we had on those mountainsides: self-government by majority vote.
But here come the troops to fix the vehicle and assert proper government on the mountainside. I show you now the email notice from one little Democratic Club in one little Oregon town, the same club as in the above picture. The newsletter is published by a grandmother named Liz, whom I am very proud to call my friend. I salute her. She worked assiduously for Obama in 2008 and 2012, then for Bernie and Clinton in turn in 2016. She picked herself up from the dust of the 2016 dysfunctional election and has set her people on the march again. If all over the country the Democrats and their allies do as Liz is doing, we are going to take back our country and our government. Liz concludes each of her news letter by quoting Mother Teresa:"I alone cannot change the world, but I can cast a stone across the waters to create many ripples."
So here from beautiful McMinnville Oregon is Liz's action schedule:
Wednesday, January 18 Community Organizing 101. First Baptist Church Social Hall, 125 SW Cowls Street, McMinnville. Sponsored by Action Together Oregon: Yamhill Valley.