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Clarity of purpose amidst chaos

November 4, 2012

Winston Churchill’s comment that Democracy is the worst form of government other than every other system attempted is reborn this week, as the election descends upon us and we are reminded of the beauty and chaos of majority rule.

As I scan the names on the ballot on my table, and reflect upon my own name listed near the bottom of the same sheet as Barack Obama’s, I recall the moment four years ago when I took my first step into elected office. On election day four years ago I knew that I would of course quickly recover emotionally if I was defeated, but I could hardly contain my anxiety of not wanting to disappoint my children with a loss. In fact it was only a minute or so into my victory on election night that I found myself thinking of my opponents family, whom I knew was feeling the opposite of my own joy.

In four years I have matured, made many mistakes, achieved a great deal, seen many successes and pondered the challenges of our day at the state and federal levels. I have read both impressive and pathetic policy reports, learned the nuance of many issues from policy experts and questioned why the power of the status quo seems unrivaled almost regardless of who wins or loses. I have thought a lot about representative democracy and its relationship with direct democracy. I have come to see the awesome power of money in politics up close and personal. I have met lobbyists whose arrogance and abuse of their role is stunning in scope, as well as those who treasure their long-standing noble relationships and will sacrifice a bill for the truth.

I remain deeply humbled by the opportunity to serve in public office if only for a short time. I wish more people could experience the thrill and weight of service, and the sense of public obligation to do good that overrides most ideological considerations.

In four years I have come to realize that there is an operational component to service (ie making the trains run on time) as well as an intangible element to the need for communal purpose, hope, direction and a belief in the possibilities of the future. People want to believe that their representatives give them voice on matters big and small, consequential and trivial. Most do not expect a perfect match nor an exact fit, but they expect conviction of purpose and clarity and alignment of goals.

Yet I find myself stunned at the unforgiving rage of so many directed at President Obama who inherited foreign and domestic disequilibrium of historic proportions. I believe that President Obama has helped to lift up this nation, to bring out the best in people, to see the possibilities of unity and common resolve. I believe he has been an extraordinary, effective and dynamic president and I’m honored to see my name on the same ballot in service to our nation.

A nation needs a leader who calls us to our higher nature. President Obama, like the great idealist Robert Kennedy, appeals to our better angels of care for our neighbors and our society. He has, in my view, served our nation with quiet dignity and noble integrity.

I have worked for four years to tackle major ‘systems’ issues from economics and job growth to education (early learning, K-12 and higher education), foster youth, open textbooks, e-government, tax reform and technology. There are those who have disappointed that I have not followed a predictable ideological path of Democratic orthodoxy on every issue. There are those who find that view refreshingly independent. I can only engage in this service, and ask my family to make the sacrifices needed for public service, by balancing the three C’s of service: conscience, constituents and caucus. My goal is to place a premium on the first two and give them added weight in any policy decision.

Serving our community and state has been a joyous, stressful, amazing, humorous, engaging and invigorating experience. It’s been wonderful even when it’s been awful.

On Tuesday, my deepest hope is that President Obama will be re-elected, Referendum 74 will pass and many other critical races impacting our state and nation. While I am likely to win given our district’s party makeup, regardless of how much longer I serve I don’t believe I will ever become numb to the expected nervous energy and natural anxiety about being on a ballot. I’m so honored to have this opportunity on behalf of the people of our community and our state.

Thank you for being a part of my service and civic engagement by visiting this blog, a small effort at transparency, on occasion.

In 2008 my friend Scott White, (may his memory be a blessing), a candidate for the House in the 46th District, and I spoke privately nearly every day about our respective races. We cared about each others race almost as much as our own. Scott went on to serve in the Senate before his untimely passing one year ago.

Serving in Olympia has been a genuine honor. I want to thank the people of the 36th for this wonderful honor and opportunity and my wife Wendy and our children for making it possible. On election night this year, regardless of the outcome in the races I care most about, I will express my thanks to the people for maintaining the dignity of representative democracy throughout our nation’s history and for an opportunity to play a small part in it. And I will raise a toast to the memory of my dear friend Scott whom I treasured like a brother.

Your partner in service,


5 Comments leave one →
  1. hughg permalink
    November 7, 2012 12:02 pm

    Reuven, Thank you for being such a thoughtful public servant and representative. I am grateful to be represented by you during such challenging circumstances. I do not necessarily agree with you on everything, but I greatly appreciate your transparent, honest and good faith effort at doing what you believe is best for the common good. I believe that on the issues where we may disagree that you would give me a fair hearing — and that’s all I can ask for.

  2. Greenwood Don permalink
    November 19, 2012 7:16 pm

    “Yet I find myself stunned at the unforgiving rage of so many directed at President Obama who inherited foreign and domestic disequilibrium of historic proportions. I believe that President Obama has helped to lift up this nation, to bring out the best in people, to see the possibilities of unity and common resolve. I believe he has been an extraordinary, effective and dynamic president and I’m honored to see my name on the same ballot in service to our nation.

    Not to sound partisan here (because Romney certainly wasn’t any better of choice than Obama), but I’m saddened to hear my State Representative glorify a President who’s foreign policy hasn’t wavered much from George W Bush’s & continues to worship at the alter of Keynesian Economics to drive our country further into unsustainable debt.

    -This is the man that has now brought Domestic Drones to your backyard.

    -He claimed he would never sign the National Defense Authorization Act of this year unless it was stripped of it’s vague wording that would allow for the confiscation & indefinite detention of Americans. Then, while the country celebrated New Year’s Eve, he turned around and signed it! The NDAA essentially strips you of your 4th Amendment Right to due process & spits on the Constitutional concept of habeus corpus. He & his “Justice” Department continue to fight the Federal Court judge that struck down aspects of it claiming that “it would have a chilling effect on free speech”

    -But remember, this is the President that actually coined the term “indefinite detention” to continue rather than END a Bush legacy of secret imprisonment & torture & then lied about his campaign promise to shut down “Bush’s” Guantanemo Prison.

    -This President is the first to create a Presidential “Kill List”:

    -He campaigned on attacking Romney’s “big finance” roots, but then accepted $12 million from various Wall Street entities. Remember: Romney’s Top Campaign Contributor this year was Goldman Sachs. Wow! What a coincidence….this was Obama’s Top Campaign Contributor in 2008!

    – In one term alone, this President has added $6 TRILLION to our National Debt.

    – A Nobel Peace Prize Winning candidate that has led bombing & drone warfare campaigns against Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Uganda, & Pakistan. Let’s also not forget instead of winding down the Afghanistan War as he promised during his campaigning, he chose to continue sending more of our men & women over there to the tune of 30,000K+.

    -The President that “champions ending the wars” will continue the interventionist, imperialist occupation of both Iraq and Afganistan by leaving 70K troops in Afghanistan after draw down and over 20K troops & contractors in Iraq, guaranteeing that the CIA concept of “Blowback” continues for years to come as it creates a whole new generation young “terrorists”.

    – The “Anti-War” President that calls for cuts to military also continues to build “super embassies” & military bases worldwide.

    -The President that early on championed Education Reform and alternatives, has become pretty quiet on the issue, more than likely from Teacher’s Union pressure and campaign money.

    – This President continues his War on Marijuana and the failed War on Drugs, even when the values of the country have changed. Even now, the Federal standoff with our States recent marijuana law is inevitable while Obama is in office. His DEA has shut down more Medical Marijuana clinics in 4 years than Bush did in 8:

    – His record on transparency alone might make you reconsider your words, Reuven: It’s an ugly one.

    Man, there’s SO MUCH MORE I could highlight, but I will just leave it for that for now.

    There are plenty of “Jill Stein Progressives” and “Peta Lindsay Socialists” that might be able to help some of you Democrats see the light. The 2 party Duplocracy is slowly coming to an end because the people are starting to see the light.

    See for yourself: 100 Ways Republicans and Democrats Are the Same

    You know, I don’t expect much different from you in endorsing Obama, Reuven.
    I think what gets me the most is the implication that Obama, arguably the leader of the most powerful nation in the world, is at the mercy of the prior President’s legacy. It’s just a free pass to continue to “kick the can down the road” and continue harmful totalitarian, warmongering and unconstitutional policies.

    Make up your mind. Either he’s a strong, “extraordinary & effective” leader that can actually end the grip of the establishment, or he is just a shill for the same old Banksters and Imperialists and cannot effectively shake ” the Bush years”.

  3. Greenwood Don permalink
    November 20, 2012 3:33 pm

    Reuven, do I at least get an explanation as to why you won’t post my comment?

  4. Greenwood Don permalink
    November 26, 2012 6:55 pm

    Thank you for posting comment.

    Correction on the post-Afghanistan withdrawal presence. That was combined presence in both Iraq & Afghanistan & 70K will be withdrawal, obviously.

    Which means this quote was just more re-election hype:
    “We are leaving in 2014, PERIOD.”~VP Joe Biden

  5. Mary permalink
    December 1, 2012 10:11 am

    I guess I need to read your blog more frequently. While I don’t agree with everything Don said, I do agree that Obama has not been a Dan Evans. His integrity curve has dipped more often than I care to acknowledge as someone who originally believed him to be the second coming of the messiah. I had such great hopes for a truly great leader at a time when one was needed and to whom a genuine mandate was given. I was sorely disappointed. Without all the links above (some of which seem silly to me), I will simply state two names: Bradley Manning and Don Siegelman. My picture Obama’s first term: Obama out golfing with Boehner will our country burned.

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