We come not to bury Donald Trump, but to praise Hillary Clinton.
The Donald has already delivered his own eulogy, on tape. Remarks uncovered last week, in which he brags about committing sexual assault, confirm for the willfully ignorant (and some in the Republican Party, including Oregon Rep. Greg Walden) what anyone paying attention has known for a year: Trump is a bully, a predator, and a silver-spoon racist who asks his supporters to join him in the sewer. What's most frightening about his candidacy is how many people are willing to sink to his level.
Trump is a pestilence and not even the second-best candidate running for president. Despite his gaffes, Libertarian Gary Johnson would be better. For all her arrogance and pseudo-scientific drivel, Green Party candidate Dr. Jill Stein also makes Trump look like an apprentice.
Yet there is reason for measured optimism that America can recover from this repulsive election. That's because Hillary Rodham Clinton ranks among the steadiest, most experienced and capable people ever to seek the White House.
From her earliest years in public life, Clinton has forged partnerships and exercised diplomacy, even while her detractors unleashed toxic, sexually charged attacks against a woman in power. She may lack her husband's folksy charm, but she is equally substantive and far better behaved.
Her work as first lady on health care reform was decades ahead of its time. Her rise as a member of the U.S. Senate from New York showed her policy chops, especially fighting for equal pay and new access to lifesaving drugs. She excelled at working across the aisle with Republicans.
Her record as secretary of state was decidedly mixed—hawkishness on Syria was a terrible misstep, and the email scandal an unforced error—but was also marked by restoring America's reputation for thoughtfulness after it was sabotaged by the Bush-Cheney wars. Keeping Iran from getting a nuclear weapon, normalizing relations with Cuba and helping coordinate the raid that killed Osama bin Laden are no mean feats.
In the Democratic primary, we endorsed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), and we recognize that for many of Sanders' most fervent supporters, Clinton's coziness with the D.C. establishment feels like a sellout of progressive principles to Wall Street insiders.
To them we say: This election is a binary choice. Her or Donald.
Clinton's flaws are real. She has compromised with big banks, fought unwise wars and conflated her own success with social good. Yet she has also made the nation safer and more equal, and has shown viable judgment and poise in the midst of circumstances that would reduce most humans to quivering Jell-O.
The world changes for the better with incremental victories—except, of course, when it falls drastically backward into fascism. That threat is real in this election. Trump is a poison who could destroy America's self-respect and our standing in the world. The antidote is a practiced, proficient leader of unusual tenacity and calm.
It's an easy decision. Hillary Clinton must be our next president.
Despite his annual barnstorming of every county in Oregon, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden can seem a distant and patrician figure, especially compared to his salt-of-the-earth junior colleague, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.). Yet Wyden's 20-year Senate record shows an eagerness to plunge into the gritty details of policy, from loosening libel laws to keep speech free on social media to preserving the state's pioneering Death With Dignity Act from Republican right-to-life ghouls.
Wyden, 67, also ranks among the nation's half-dozen loudest voices demanding accountability from the federal government's surveillance apparatus. That's a battle that pitted him against President Barack Obama and the National Security Agency—formidable foes he's been willing to challenge over and over again, demanding American citizens' right to live without their own government tapping their phones and reading their call histories. Wyden is fighting a lonely fight, and an important one. He would disagree, but this is the closest you can get to voting for Edward Snowden.
For Wyden's two challengers on the left, this election is a referendum on free trade, especially the much-reviled Trans-Pacific Partnership deal Wyden supported. One of these candidates is among the most impressive newcomers to this election cycle: Shanti Lewallen, 36, a Portland longshoreman moonlighting as an employment lawyer and running as the Working Families Party nominee. Lewallen, who hails from a California family of seaweed harvesters, admits he's running mostly to keep the small party on future ballots, but he also offers a cogent critique of Wyden's trade votes—we don't agree with the whole of his analysis, but we admire the measured passion with which he makes it. We hope to see Lewallen back on the ballot soon in a more modestly scaled race.
Ashland organic farmer Eric Navickas, the Pacific Green and Progressive parties' nominee, is running on the platform that "capitalism has failed." He also hates the TPP, but his rhetoric feels overblown. Independent Stephen Reynolds is running with a grab bag of ideas, and the Republican, Mark Callahan, who has previously disrupted interviews and demonstrated an arrogance that is exceeded only by his ignorance, deserves no one's support.
The jury is still out on whether Wyden's votes on trade were wise. He responds with some good arguments about Oregon ultimately benefiting from the TPP; we hope to have results to judge when he returns in 2022. Meanwhile, he remains far above any of his challengers. Send him back to D.C. for another round of fights with the NSA.
What reality show would Wyden compete on? Real Training Camp on NBA TV. "I very much wanted to play in the NBA."
U.S. House of Representatives
U.S. Rep. Suzanne Bonamici, 61, has brought welcome stability to a district that was reeling from the public implosion of then-Rep. David Wu in 2011. Her work on Capitol Hill in the five years since replacing Wu has often been unglamorous but necessary. She retooled No Child Left Behind to make testing less prescriptive, sent federal dollars to the Oregon Coast for new tsunami-warning systems, and brokered a compromise with Republicans in the House to keep climate-change research funded.
We'd like to see Bonamici take tougher stances. Her support for legal cannabis, for example, is squishy. But as a junior member of a badly outnumbered Democratic Party in D.C., she's picking up wins where she can.
Her Republican challenger, Brian Heinrich, 40, is a truck salesman from Dundee with a less nuanced approach to federal government: He wants to make it disappear. Heinrich's a nice guy, but his only substantive proposal is a balanced-budget amendment. Bonamici's a better thinker, and the right choice.
What reality show would Bonamici compete on? "No question, I would be on Chopped. I love to cook. I don't use recipes."
Oregon's political marriage to U.S. Rep. Earl Blumenauer is entering its 21st year (and that's if you're not counting his earlier stints as a Portland city commissioner and state legislator). Adding those elected terms to the tally brings the duration of this relationship to 44 years.
As in any marriage, we feel the weight of the accumulated decades.
At times, Blumenauer, 68, can grate. He represents one of the safest seats in America for a Democrat and in 2016 has zero credible opponents. Yet in this cycle, he's sitting on more than $1 million in campaign contributions, including hefty checks from corporate bigwigs whose values aren't exactly in line with those of Little Beirut.
Trouble is, our wandering eye sees nothing better in the field.
Opponent David Delk of the Progressive Party is a single-issue candidate who opposes free trade agreements. That's a common theme this election cycle—something we're hearing lots about on the national slate. On this topic, though, Oregon isn't like the rest of the nation. It's a trade-rich state that benefits more than others from the terms of international trade deals. We wouldn't trade Blumenauer for Delk.
His second opponent, David Walker of the Independent Party, is a family nurse practitioner with sharp words for Blumenauer on the shortcomings of the Affordable Care Act—and Blumenauer's record of taking campaign cash from the health care industry. We don't doubt Walker's sincerity or his criticisms about Obamacare. We just don't think he has the political chops to make any meaningful change in Washington.
Blumenauer may not bring us roses anymore. But he's the best-qualified candidate to help fix the flaws of the Affordable Care Act and fight the effects of global warming. He's also shown an unmatched devotion to ending America's war on cannabis—including sticking up for Devontre Thomas, the Native American teenager prosecuted for possessing a gram of marijuana by the U.S. attorney for Oregon. Blumenauer's advocacy helped pressure prosecutors into dropping the ridiculous case.
This is no time to say goodbye, Earl. Stick with Blumenauer.
What reality show would Blumenauer compete on? "My daily experience with C-SPAN is more bizarre than any reality TV show."
When Kurt Schrader, a veterinarian, served in the Oregon Senate, he co-chaired the Joint Ways and Means Committee and had an uneasy relationship with Democratic Party interest groups, including trial lawyers and unions. He's continued that independence in four terms in Congress, representing a district that stretches from the central coast to Salem and Portland.
He's established a reputation as moderate and, according to a 2015 Washington Post ranking, is one of the 10 most effective members of the House, as measured by their ability to move substantive bills through Congress. He's bucked unions to support the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership trade agreement and helped pass ag and transportation funding bills that send cash to Oregon. As chairman of a House small-business subcommittee, Schrader, 65, wrote and passed a bill that generated billions in new loans, and he helped site the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Pacific fleet in Newport.
His Republican challenger, Colm Willis, is a newly minted lawyer from Stayton. He lacks political experience—and what experience he does offer as a former political director of Oregon Right to Life makes us say prayers of thanks for Schrader's drab moderation. Marvin Sandnes of the Pacific Green Party is also running.
What reality show would Schrader compete on? He says he'd like to give Donald Trump a piece of his mind on The Apprentice.