Updated: Dec 28, 2020
Author: Connor Radnovich Published 2:41 PM PT November 3, 2020
The results of Tuesday’s elections in Oregon and around the country won’t be certified for weeks, but the prospect of a distressing campaign season coming to a close is giving some hope for a return to calmer political times.
Danielle Black of Tigard said she is afraid to leave her home because of how politics and this election have permeated so much of public life.
While she was sitting in line at a drive-thru, Black said a woman got out of her car and began yelling at her because she thought Black had cut her off. Black said the woman screamed about how Black was what is wrong with America and that she bet Black voted for Democratic candidate Joe Biden.
“I have never been scared of an election,” Black said. “This is horrendous.”
Regardless of who wins at the state level, Black said she hopes Oregon’s political leaders can address the growing homelessness crisis. She also wants politicians to listen to the demands of Black Lives Matter protesters — not to empathize, but to seek solutions.
Change takes time, but Black said she hasn’t seen any attempts to move towards action.
After the past four years, Black is tired of political talk.
“Nobody is trying to mend anything, come to any agreement,” she said. “There have been so many opportunities that have been missed.”
Wendy Latta of Dallas said her biggest concern is getting children back to school safely during the coronavirus pandemic. She has two kids, ages 10 and 12, who are currently attending school remotely.
She also wants to see the state prioritize bringing businesses into Oregon and revitalizing rural towns.
She sees the stagnation on solving critical issues as a symptom of rigidity among those in power, holding onto their values too tightly to seek the common good.
“Both sides need to realize that they’re not giving up their values when they compromise on issues to get something done for everyone,” Latta said.
These include issues as seemingly fundamental as communication.
The League believes more discourse would decrease partisanship, Gladstone said. But while tone is an issue, more pressing for the legislative process is the volume of input.
Lawmakers and their staffs are deluged by calls and emails during the legislative session. On hot-button topics, lawmakers will sometimes get thousands of identical form emails or calls from supporters or opponents, which can clog communication lines.
With in-person meetings restricted due to the pandemic, those lines of communication are only going to get more congested, further limiting the time available to discuss issues more deeply.
“I am really concerned about how to make this functional because it’s a little bit ridiculous,” Gladstone said. “I think people are not really listening to each other. But how can they?”
Vonnie Mikkelsen, chair of the Oregon State Chamber of Commerce board of directors, said his organization hopes to see bipartisanship after the election, especially geared toward recovery for small businesses.
Mikkelsen said polarization at the national level has found its way into Oregon’s politics, which is ultimately counterproductive, especially in light of Oregon’s wildfires and the ongoing pandemic.
“We need to come together to support our local businesses and communities as we work to recover from the pandemic and devastating wildfires,” she said.
Reporter Connor Radnovich covers the Oregon Legislature and state government. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or 503-399-6864, or follow him on Twitter at @CDRadnovich.