Editorial published by the Bend Bulletin
8/23/2015

Oregon’s Democratic and Republican parties don’t show much restraint when taking on the growing power of the Independent Party of Oregon.

There was an egregious example earlier this year. House Bill 3500 would have formed a task force to look at how primaries should work. When state Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose, protested that the bill unfairly excluded sufficient representation for the Independent Party, the leadership of the Democratic Party took action.

State Sen. Richard Devlin, D-Tualatin, temporarily removed her from a committee to ensure the bill would pass. When she left the room, he voted in her place in support of the bill. He then suggested that she carry the bill on the floor to hoots of laughter on the committee.

That’s a lowly moment for Oregon’s two parties.

The two parties also released a poll suggesting Independent Party members don’t understand their membership in the party. That’s a polite way for the Democratic and Republican parties to call the Independent Party a bunch of fools.

The latest theme from the Democratic and Republican parties is that they don’t like the Independent Party’s structure. Devlin reinforced that message when he visited The Bulletin’s editorial board recently.

Oregon law states, “Each political party by rule shall insure (sic) the widest and fairest representation of party members in the party organization and activities.” The Independent Party has been criticized because it has had a few fixed volunteers leading the organization. We can’t answer whether the structure of the party needs to be changed to comply with Oregon law.

But consider this: The Independent Party allows all members to participate in platform development. In the Democratic and Republican parties, that debate is more tightly controlled by precinct committee persons. And there are other examples. So who is the widest and fairest of them all?

The Democratic and Republican parties may cloak their critique of the Independent Party in fairness, but they seem more interested in ensuring third parties in Oregon never get a chance with voters.

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