By editorial board • 

What happened to concern over the heavy hand of government?

Less than a month after her November 2020 election to a term on the county board of commissioners, Lindsay Berschauer promised to make “helping working families” and “protecting working-class families” her top priority when she assumed office.

She cited “long economic disparities between rural counties and their urban counterparts,” showing up in forms that include “greater human service needs.” To address that, she called for greater focus on “mental health, suicide prevention and addiction issues.”

In doing so, she was following the playbook of mentor and now colleague Mary Starrett, who has made public health one of her main areas of focus and attention on the board.

But talk is cheap. Action is what counts.

Berschauer and Starrett have repeatedly come up short on follow-through action, most recently in their refusal to sign off on a $68,644 in state funding for prevention of drug, alcohol and tobacco abuse, better access to health care for rural residents and vaccination against COVID-19 and an array of potentially lethal childhood diseases.

The sticking point is a routine clause they and their predecessors in all 36 counties have been signing off on for years.

That clause merely commits Oregon counties to supporting life- and health-saving vaccinations, most of which target dangerous diseases like polio and diphtheria. The counties are left to decide for themselves how deeply that commitment needs to run.

According to Yamhill County Administrator Ken Huffer, local promotion has largely been left to time, place and availability notice for those who wish to take advantage of publicly funded immunization services. And that would seem to most benefit working-class families from rural areas where private health services may not be as affordable and accessible.

But Berschauer and Starrett have displayed almost cult-like devotion to the unorthodox beliefs of the far-right fringe, leading them to repeatedly honor personal ideological purity over the broader interests of ordinary citizens. Along with pro-gun and anti-immigration orientations, the roster includes rigid anti-vax views, over which they seem quite willing to sacrifice drug, alcohol and rural access aid.

We have no quarrel with them eschewing potentially life-saving vaccinations for themselves or minors in their care. Thankfully, we live in a country where people are able to freely make such choices in the privacy of their own homes.

However, we take vehement exception to their repeated efforts to impose their alarmist screeds on the rest of us, particularly when those views lack any vestige of factual of scientific grounding.

We find it even more objectionable when they prove willing to incur materially harmful collateral damage on their self-proclaimed rural working-class constituency in the process, by thwarting aid having nothing to do with immunization against communicable disease.

Berschauer staked out her agenda for service in op-ed space made available to her by the News-Register on its own initiative.

In it, she decried a “disconnect between workers and the people who purport to represent them,” which she linked to “government injecting itself into every aspect of our lives.”

But the two local ideological purity advocates seem to have to trouble with aggressive pursuit of such injecting when the tables are turned. Somewhere along the way, they seem to have shed their passion for freedom from the overbearing hand of government.

In her post-election manifesto, Bershauer also offered this thought: “Too often, those in government operate in a bubble. They fail to understand the impact of their decisions on working families, and that erodes taxpayer trust.”

Well, we certainly have to agree with her there. We couldn’t have said it better.


Web Design and Web Development by Buildable