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DON’T SHOOT THE MESSENGER: Who’s On The Team?

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Don't Shoot the MessengerIn early April, Judge Pat Wolke’s courtroom in Grants Pass was packed. Although voters in Josephine County overwhelming passed an ordinance banning GMO seeds and plants, for the past year, the law has been henpecked and threatened from a couple farmers who claim their livelihood has been threatened by the new regulation.

What? You thought that the ordinance was signed, sealed and delivered because voters approved it? Hardly. As often can be the case (literally, in this incident), even after approved and passed, environmental laws can spend months and years in a legal purgatory as courts, plaintiffs and bureaucrats squabble.

We’re not the first to note that democracy is a slow-moving process, and Election Day is not the be-all, end-all, but simply a point on a stretched out timeline. Yes, you should soon have your ballots in your mailbox, and will be able to make decisions about city council elections, some property levies and, of course, the presidential primaries. But that day has been a long time coming—and as it approaches, it is frustrating to realize how much media attention and our national bandwidth has been dedicated to the presidential campaigns, and how much more will be consumed in the upcoming six months. According to a study of the evening news on CBS, ABC and NBC in late 2015 and early 2016, Donald Trump alone accounted for one-quarter of all airtime on evening news programs on those channels. Quite literally, hundreds of media hours have been occupied by showboating Trump’s personality—and, we wager that coverage has done little to sway anyone’s opinion much in either direction.

Point being: Media coverage about the presidential campaigns and hair-piece-thin changes in the “race” has pulled resources and attention away from other important and critical issues—away from coverage of local politics, away from analysis about legislative issues and towards an examination of the personalities of Trump, Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton, and, increasingly, turning the presidential election into the number one viewed reality TV show.

Certainly, we have our opinions about the presidential races, and we imagine you do as well. Perhaps, though, our biggest contribution to election coverage would be asking each candidate one simple, but we believe insightful, question: What five people will you bring into office with you? (And, perhaps this is a question that you can use to analyze who you will choose for office.)

Being president or being mayor is so much more than a one-person job, yet we pay little attention to examining the team each candidate has, and plans to have in office. Sure, soon the candidates will select their vice-president running mates, but we are thinking about an even deeper analysis. Will Clinton continue to hold John Kerry as Secretary of State? Would Sanders appoint someone like the former CEO of Tom’s of Maine as the Secretary of Commerce? Will Donald Trump manage his cabinet like he lorded over his reality TV show? Who a president gathers as his or her team probably says as much—if not more—about their pending presidency than any other indicator, yet it receives little, if any, media analysis.

Consider, as one example about what a new president means—and how it will matter who he or she appoints as a cabinet member. Governed by the Department of Interior, the Bureau of Land Management recently released a plan to guide management of 2.6 million aces of Oregon’s public forests; these new regulations determine what fishing, rafting, logging, hiking, snowmobiling opportunities are available. Areas like the Applegate Adaptive Management Area are particularly vulnerable in the latest draft of the plan. How public lands will be managed, are greatly affected by who is the Secretary of Interior.

Point being: While making your ballot choices, we urge you to look past personalities, and try to find out who else in on a candidate’s “team.”  

Send your thoughts about who and what you are excited to vote for this May. We look forward to publishing well-thought-out comments. Please try to limit comments to a concise 100 words or less, and submit to Publisher Phil Busse at, Editorial@RogueValleyMessenger.com.

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