03 November 2008

Why I Think People Should Vote For Jeff Merkley


Life is a lopsided thing. In some ways, I have a great deal. In other important ways, I desperately need a great deal.

One of the lucky things in my life is that me and mine is that, in a literal way, I am almost a neighbor of Jeff Merkley. He and his live in a house very near to me and mine. I live in Oregon's 47th State House district, which, if you wonder, is on the east side of Portland, east of I-205, in the area that Willamette Week thinks is Gresham. It looks like this:

Oregon State House District 47

Just a big ol' tract of suburban folks of all sorts of incomes (but none of us are especially wealthy), lots of ethnicities, and about as many different levels of success as there are people who live here. I don't think we're all necessarily liberal or conservative at our hearts regardless of our world view – we're just good neighbors­–the kind who live and let live, and who won't hassle you but will ask how you're doing or pitch in a little if you need help.

And Glendoveer Golf Course ... a public course, not a private one ... is right near the middle of the district. And we have two Target stores. And 122nd Avenue, where you can pretty much find anything you need.

Anyway, as I was saying, I live very close to Jeff Merkley. I found this out only very recently. Me and The Wife™ met his wife as she was doing her daily run with thier dog down my street. Very sweet and friendly lady, who took a moment as we were leaving on our own little errand to stop and chat with us for a few minutes and thank us just for putting up a lawn sign for Jeff.

She didn't have to do that. She did do that.

Since I live in the same neighborhood Oregon's next junior Senator lives in, I have some idea of how he and his family lives. Those commercials where he's being just folks and meeting people where they are aren't just image. They're him. And I've only met him once in person, but just knowing he lives in a house about the same size as me tells me a few things: he probably has a mortgage, he and his wife come from a place where they have had to work in regular old jobs like myself.

And he actually lives here. I don't imagine his opponent actually finds himself in Oregon all that much, except when he has to campaign. I understand he recently spent one day knocking on doors in Oregon. Just one day. It made news. But when Jeff comes home from the campaign trail? It's just to a normal old house, on the east side of Portland.

Now, it may seem naïve to look at the world so. But I came from a working class world. I'm still in that world. And I can't help but think that someone who is almost literally my neighbor and lives closer to my level will probably do more for me than a man who's looking at life from Senator Gordon "I'm not a Democrat, but I play one on TV" Smith's POV, who might not ever see me as the kind of person who could ever be his neighbor.

I don't think Senator Smith really cares all that much about Oregon unless you're someone like him. I'm sure Jeff Merkley cares about Oregon and all Oregonians, even if you don't see eye-to-eye with him.

Because that's the way Democrats roll, regardless of what you've heard about him.

And, like most of us, Jeff and his wife know what it's like to earn a paycheck. As do I. And people like us never forget where we came from.

I'm voting for my neighbor, Jeff Merkley. And I think everyone should too.

Because, in an election between a Democrat and a pretend Democrat, you should always vote for the Democrat.

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