In 1859, Oregon became America’s 33rd state. The authors of Oregon’s Constitution wisely term limited Oregon’s Governor, Secretary of State, and Treasurer. These founding citizens realized that politicians consolidate power when elected to political office. With increasing time in office, political power only increases. Special interests, including the very wealthy, big business, and powerful labor, ask for favors in exchange for political support. These favors generally enhance the control and the ease of living for these special interests and their members, to the detriment of ordinary everyday Oregonians. The political class controls the machinery of government, and incumbent office holders are shielded from accountability by the bureaucracy. Many political office holders seek to control the press, to control information available to the public.
Thirty years ago I listened carefully as President Ronald Reagan told America’s citizens that he was preparing to sign the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986. The Act required that employers attest to their employees’ immigration status, made it illegal to hire or recruit illegal immigrants knowingly, and legalized certain seasonal agricultural workers. It also allowed approximately 4 million illegal immigrants, who had resided in America prior to 1982 and did not have a criminal record, to apply for legal status. Applicants were required to pay a fine, pay any back taxes due, and possess basic knowledge of English, US government and US history. We were told that we would never face the problem of illegal immigration again………
We have just held our elections, and our elected representatives are preparing to govern us. All Oregonians wish to have “good government.” What is “good government?” What do we wish our government to do? What are the criteria by which we are to judge our elected government officials? How do we determine if our elected representatives are providing good government?
“I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.” —“I Have a Dream Speech," Dr. Martin Luther King (1963)
Today we celebrate the life of America’s greatest civil right’s leader, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King lived at a time when “separate, but equal” (which in reality was unequal) was accepted by many Americans.