Government isn't the enemy, if we participate in it
Governor John Kitzhaber granted a important and probing interview on OPB Radio's "Think Out Loud" on May 23. He offered valuable insights into our health care system and into our economic system, which is leaving so many people behind as the rich get richer. It's a superb example of thoughtful, informed, and bipartisan analysis.
He described how an increasingly grotesque mal-distribution of wealth is robbing us of good-paying jobs in this economic recovery, why we need to expand health care and transform its focus from disease treatment to disease prevention, and he suggested questions we can ask to improve our community's overall well-being.
I urge my fellow readers to listen in. The 15-minute interview is available online at http://www.opb.org/thinkoutloud/shows/live-salem-governor-kitzhaber-0523/ Kitzhaber's positive, collaborative approach stands in powerful contrast to divisive, fearful, anti-government rhetoric from the extreme right wing. Examples include their anti-tax absolutism, anti-scientific ignorance of global warming, the current trumpeting of fake scandals, and the disruption of government at all levels.
According to an Associated Press report on May 24, U.S. Senators Ted Cruz of Texas, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Mike Lee of Utah and Marco Rubio of Florida are "tea party champions" whose uncompromising views are challenging traditional Republicans, by using Senate rules and procedures to block legislation whenever possible and opening up major rifts within the GOP. Similarly, in the House, a relatively small number of anti-government extremists have fractured the GOP, as they attempt to bring the government to its knees.
Fortunately, we have been able to turn aside this divisive, extremist thinking in recent local elections. But we should go further. We can benefit greatly by following Governor Kitzhaber's statesmanlike leadership, joining together to forge meaningful responses to the challenges and opportunities we face.
If we participate, government is not the enemy. We are the government. One of our nation's mottos is "E Pluribus Unum," Out of Many, One. United we stand. If we use our creative abilities, no one need be left behind.