Let lawmakers know we want them to work together
On April Fool's Day in 2011, the Oregon House of Representatives released a video on YouTube that went viral.
Both Republicans and Democrats Rickrolled the House.
Rickrolling, in case you don't know, is sneaking 1980s pop star Rick Astley into something. It usually involves sending a viewer to a YouTube video of Astley crooning, "Never Gonna Give You Up."
In the Legislature, it worked a little differently. Over the course of several months, lawmakers on both sides of the aisle incorporated the lyrics of "Never Gonna Give You Up" into bills, then edited them into a video.
There's something truly satisfying about watching people we expect to be serious — and to disagree — saying:Never gonna give you up
Never gonna let you down
Never gonna run around and desert you
Never gonna make you cry
Never gonna say goodbye
Never gonna tell a lie and hurt you
Yes, they really added the "ooh."
It's hard to imagine today's state lawmakers working together on anything similar.
At the federal level, it's even harder.
We receive regular visits from our federal representation, including a recent visit from Sen. Jeff Merkley. Nearly every local visit includes questions about partisanship in Congress.
All three of our representatives — Merkley, Sen. Ron Wyden and Rep. Greg Walden — regularly note that people are still working across the aisles, but it's not making news.
We find it troubling that when working together does manage to hit the front page, the response on social media is often negative.
When Republican Gordon Smith was still in the Senate, his and Democratic Sen. Wyden's staffers talked about the work they did as "The Ron and Gordon Show."
A Wyden staffer told me back home, no one cares whether a bridge is Republican or Democratic. They just want a bridge.
The two senators were known for working together and getting things done, though they would scramble to take the credit, the staffer said.
You have to wonder if today their constituents would take to social media and criticize them for crossing party lines.
Scroll through the comments on Merkley's Twitter feed, and you'll find people calling him a "Democrap," a hypocrite and a fake.
Walden is called "gutless" and a liar.
The people with the loudest voices are often the most vile, and no one seems to believe that there are good people on both sides of issues who simply disagree about the best way to move forward.
It doesn't help that the president uses Twitter to call his opponents schoolyard names and to foment discontent, nor that special interests spend millions on ads designed to divide us.
But we don't live on Twitter and Facebook. The Central Oregonian's readers primarily live in Crook County, where there are real needs, regardless of which box we checked on our voter registration card. The reality is our representative in the House is a Republican and our senators are Democrats.
Whether we voted for them or not, we need them to represent us, and they can only get things done in a divided Congress if they work with their colleagues in the other party.
How much should they compromise to get things done? Which issues should they hold tight to?
Those are questions voters need to keep in mind.
Merkley is up for reelection in 2020, and Walden is resigning.
The May primaries may seem far away, but candidates are already filing for office and campaigning.
They'll be working hard for your vote. Make sure they know you want them to work together on every issue they can. Let them know the issues you think are worth fighting for. Tell them civility will be one of the things you consider when you're filling in your ballot.
And don't just write letters or call when you're mad. Let them know you appreciate it when they pass legislation that's good for Crook County, no matter which party they're in.
They're going to hear from the trolls, but we know there are a lot more of us who just want our government to work for us. Let's make sure our lawmakers know it, too.
This editorial was written by Teresa Jackson, news editor of the Madras Pioneer
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