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Posts published in “Day: July 2, 2006”

Oregon impact

In Idaho we've from time to time run surveys and posted lists of the most influential Idahoans of the year just past and months just ahead, lists usually topped by the likes of governors and senators.

Were you to do a similar exercise in Washington state, only extend it out to the last 10 to 20 years, here's the top name you'd almost certainly come up with: Tim Eyman, the initiative king, who has had his share of losses as well as wins but probably has driven more politics in the state than anyone else.

And Oregon? A little less obvious, but it seems to adhere to the Washington track, at least to judge from one opinion-trawling effort.

Les AuCoin, the former congressman, has posted on his blog the query, "Who had the most impact on Oregon in the last 10 years?"

Of the responses received so far, the dominant names are three associated with initiative actions: Don McIntyre, who pushed through the tax-cutting Measure 5 in 1992, and Bill Moshofsky and David Hunnicutt of Oregonians In Action, who pushed through the land use Measure 37 in 2004.

Is the mere fact that such people - not elected officials, but gadfly-activists - are the main pushers of policies in these states? What would be the reasons underlying that? Comments welcome.

The practicality of idealism

Two ways of looking at politics. The first is the norm: Call it "give the people what they want," or at least what you think they want.

Intuitively, that sounds about right. But it doesn't square with much of recent reality. Ronald Reagan was a very popular president and won his re-election in 1984 overwhelmingly, but his policy positions - point by point - weren't especially popular. The key policy stands of George W. Bush 20 years later, on almost every subject save terrorism and maybe Iraq, had very weak support among the American public; if the voters were votingpolicy positions, he'd have crashed and burned decisively. The fact that these presidents pushed unpopular ideas may even have added to their support on a personal level.

This comes up because of an exchange between two Idaho political figures. Bill Cope is a former Democratic legislative candidate who for some years has been writing a column in the alternative Boise Weekly. The man who hired him as a columnist, Andy Hedden-Nicely (who has long since departed the Weekly), has run for office as a Democrat in the past, but this year has bolted the party to run under the banner of the United Party. Both parties disgust him. (more…)