Should Faith Leaders Sit Out 2012 Oregon Legislative Races In Response To Radical Policies That Hurt Poor, Children?
The Oregon Legislature and our governor seem headed down a path of destruction that will jeopardize the moral legacy all Oregonians leave as families and children are cast adrift in favor of tax cuts for corporations and the wealthiest during difficult economic times. Democrats and Republicans alike are embracing the social welfare policies of Newt Gingrich and the economic policies of George W. Bush. The latest nonsense move is a planned capital gains tax cut that - as Tax Fairness Oregon notes " will run to almost $400 million dollars per biennium--more than the cost of running our K-12 schools for a month. And our state already has one of the shortest school years in the country. Or, it's all of state support for community colleges and workforce training, just so the wealthy can be more wealthy." At the same time, the governor is proposing massive cuts in social service programs for families and children. If they get their way the legacy of Gov. John Kitzhaber, Sen. Ginny Burdick, and Sen. Frank Morse - along with a host of other democrats and republicans - will be a economic wasteland of a state where low-income families and children will be abandoned. This isn't the Oregon we want or have to have. Speak up and tell members of the senate - just to start with - that you want tax fairness that brings opportunity to all and not just the wealthy. One way that people of faith concerned with the "least of the these" and economic justice might remain engaged in the political process is to watch closely how these events play out during the remainder of the legislative session. If these outlandish ideas are adopted it might be that leaders in the faith community should consider encouraging those who feel most called to address issues of poverty and inequity to sit out the legislative races in 2012 and focus entirely on policy issues - both with our money and volunteer time. Faith leaders are often asked, for example, to endorse political candidates and people of faith certainly work on campaigns. But is it that the politicians in Salem in both parties have proven by their actions that they cannot be trusted with the most important issues that lift up the common good of our state? As the National Council of Churches has said: "There is no greater concern among the churches of Christ than for those in this nation who live in poverty." So far it looks like both parties are willing to discard the most defenseless in society to achieve their goals. If so, people of faith concerned about families and children will need to seriously address in 2012 where we might as individuals have the strongest impact in protecting those Kitzhaber, Burdick and Morse are seemingly willing to forget if they don't change course. I'm sill hoping they have a super secret plan that brings back common sense and fairness to Salem.