First of all, nothing sums up the surprised and giddy mood of last night quite like this photo of Ben Unger, Executive Director of the Senate Democratic Leadership Fund, holding up the copy of the Oregonian headlined, "Democrats Bet Against History on Tax Hikes." Bam!
But the day after I'm feeling, well, blue. It started to sink in during Speaker of the Oregon House Dave Hunt's speech at the victory party last night. "This is about the kids out there who are going to keep the school year they’ve got," Hunt told the crowd. "The seniors who are going to keep the services they’ve got." He's right.
It's depressing that we had to go through this tooth-and-nail $10 million fight to keep the status quo. We passed the tax hikes on the rich, but the state still had to cut its budget severely last spring. This victory means we get to keep our shitty education system and our shitty healthcare system. It's sad to push so hard just to stay stuck in low gear.
I called Ian Greenfield, managing director of the Oregon Bus Project, for a pep talk. He spends campaign days shouting through megaphones, cajoling people to vote. He should be able to talk me through this. But Greenfield shared my melancholy.
"It's interesting being in a place like Oregon where it takes so much effort to get good things done, like public beaches, bottle bill, right? And they're extraordinarily easy to tear down. We spend so much time just trying to keep what makes this place great," Ian told me.
"So what's the plan? Are we ever going to move forward?" I asked.
"You could run for office," he replied.
Meh. I would never run for office. Not only are there incriminating photos of me on the internet, I also hate canvassing and am afraid of babies (especially kissing them).
Greenfield took a different tack: "The win last night is definitely about maintaining services. But the flip side is the Bus registered 8,000 new people, we had 200 volunteers come in. Those are people who are might be more engaged in politics in the future."
Okay, so there's a small ray of sunshine breaking through my sodden hangover. But still. Millions of dollars and six months later, I can't help feel like we're right back where we started last June when the legislative session wrapped up.