By editorial board • 

End the walkouts and stalling; get back to pressing business

The stage for the recent Republican legislative walkout, latest in what’s fast becoming an annual piece of pointless political theater in Salem, was set on two dates in 2022:

First, June 24, when the conservative GOP coalition on the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion decision of 1973. Second, Nov. 8, when almost a million Oregon voters teamed up to pass Measure 114, a gun control initiative.

Almost 1.3 million Oregon voters tried to head off this year’s mass migration of Republicans to points elsewhere via Measure 113, another initiative appearing on the Nov. 8 ballot. But this 2-to-1 majority generously accorded walkers 10 unexcused absences, which appears to have been about eight or nine too many.

Meanwhile, two-dozen states started a restrictive post-Roe stampede targeting not only surgical abortion, but also birth control, medical abortion, complicit physicians, pharmacists, clinics and educators, and even complicit private citizens. And the gun lobby found a way to mire Measure 114 in indeterminate legal limbo.

Cutting through all the political fog rising from Oregon’s golden-domed Capitol, the walkout takes direct aim at two of the dominant Democratic Party’s dearest priorities:

HB 2020, aimed at strengthening and clarifying access to abortion, gender affirmation and other types of reproductive health care, and HB 2005, which would codify statutorily the gun control provisions Measure 114 attempted to codify constitutionally.

Given the Alice in Wonderland nature of modern American politics:

The Roe reversal was engineered by six justices who pretended to consider Roe settled law when they stood for confirmation. The Measure 114 imbroglio was contrived by a sagebrush country judge willing to hold the entirety in abeyance while fringe elements were litigated. And the legislative walkout was at least partially justified on grounds language in HB 2022 failed to meet a 44-year-old grade school readability standard.

Does anyone truly believe the Supreme Court justices hadn’t made up their minds long ago? That the Harney County court was acting entirely in good faith, utterly unaffected by personal or political biases? That Republican legislative leaders had suddenly developed a deeply held conviction about the ability of eighth graders to grasp the finer points of reproductive health legislation? In our opinion, that would be no, no and no.

To be fair, the Legislature’s majority Democrats aren’t motivated solely by a desire to protect reproductive health rights not seriously under attack in Oregon or gun restrictions likely to largely if not entirely pass legal muster in the end.

They no doubt also see HB 2002 and HB 2005 as ways to feed red meat to their most rabid partisans, sharing the same motivation their GOP counterparts have for framing their opposition in theatrically apocalyptic terms. And they no doubt take sport in riling the right as much as the opposition does in riling the left, both very easy to accomplish when culture war combat is at fever pitch throughout the land.

But the Legislature’s minority Republicans have been overplaying their hand all session. They have engaged in deliberate delaying tactics from the outset, to the point of requiring every bill be read out in its entirety on the floor, which has no defensible rationale whatsoever.

If the Republican Party wants a bigger say in Salem, it needs to start winning the hearts and minds of more voters. And acting like thoughtful adults rather than spoiled toddlers would be a good place to start.

We would like to see a lot more reasoned argument and a lot less childish gamesmanship over at Oregon’s seat of government. It would represent a refreshing change.



It is typical GOP form if they can't have their way they foul everything up so nothing gets done. GOP used to be the party of old white men, now it is the party of old white men funding racist, misogynist people trying to overthrow the government. They need to pull on their big boy pants and accept they are the minority and work to do change thru the government not just run away like little kids.

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