November 3rd, 2014
Over the last few months rural and small town Oregonians have made their voices heard. We have knocked on doors, hosted and attended forums, and made hundreds of phone calls. We have delivered STAND Voter Guides, marched through the streets, written letters to the editor, and talked with our neighbors.
Why are we doing this? We are doing this to influence the vote on November 4th, that is true. But we are also doing it because we believe in our communities and we believe in our vision of human dignity, of justice, and of true democracy. We are doing this because we know that elections are an opportunity to have a conversation with our neighbors, to raise awareness person-by-person. We do this because we know that to build the power we need to win, and to shape and create communities with a vision of justice; that every election moment, every ballot measure good or bad is an opportunity to build over time towards our long-term vision.
Back in 1992, a hideous ballot measure attacking the LGBTQ community was forced upon us – Measure 9. ROP was created out of that moment. So was Basic Rights Oregon. It took years, campaigns, money, people, and organizing to build the queer movement infrastructure and resources we have today and to get us where we are now: state after state supporting marriage equality.
This election cycle we also have a vicious ballot measure thrown upon us. The Legislature may have passed and supported the driver card, but it took one anti-immigrant group and their out-of-state funders to put this on the ballot, delaying the much needed relief that people’s basic safety relies on. We knew from the very beginning that the odds were stacked against us. Polling showed support for driver cards in the 30%s, meaning this campaign was not swinging in our favor. But we know that regardless of our ability to get a win at the ballot box, it is critical to fight for Measure 88 with everything we have. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.
Measure 88 may have been forced upon us, but we are using it as a teaching moment. We are collectively shaping a vision of what real racial justice can look like in rural Oregon. We are engaging in conversation after conversation about how we all do better when we all do better, of how communities that are safe for everyone to live their lives fully mean stronger communities that we all can thrive in.
So we are hitting the streets, the phones, the forums, the marches. We are choosing to not let Oregonians for Immigration Reform, the anti-immigrant group who put this on the ballot, be the only voice framing the story about our immigrant neighbors and communities. We are doing this not because we will necessarily move the needle on the dial of polling far enough to win on Measure 88 (though we are certainly trying!), but because our communities need and deserve a moral compass on this issue. We took up the charge to be that voice.
Today, on the eve of the election, we here at ROP want to say congratulations to all the brave and powerful leaders in rural and small town Oregon who took up this fight. You are our heroes. Thank you for knowing that it is only through doing this work, day after day, election after election, that we will be able to build the capacity to win not just on driver cards, but to end deportations and to bring broad relief for immigrants everywhere while building communities that are strong enough to support all of us.
Below are a few photos of some of the highlights of our collective work this election cycle.