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Politics and our values: Senate's bipartisan work needed more than ever

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Posted: Friday, November 2, 2012 12:00 am | Updated: 11:52 am, Mon Jan 21, 2013.

Community perspective

It’s that time of year, finally. Time for the World Series and Election Day, the first Tuesday of November. Baseball and politics. The latter is a lot like the former: win a few, lose a few and there’s always next season. More on that later.

I recently saw the Fairbanks Light Opera Theatre production of “The Wizard of Oz,” an American classic that came out in 1939 with Judy Garland as Dorothy, Technicolor in most of the film and the Oscar-winning best song “Over The Rainbow.” “The Wizard of Oz” strikes me as the classic that carried America past the Great Depression. The story of Dorothy’s journey up the Yellow Brick Road — with the cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow who needed a brain and the Tin Man who wanted a heart — helps explain to me how our nation survived a time when the economy had fallen apart, dictators were rising in Europe and extremist politics of the Left and Right had become active in the USA.

The answer? Courage, brains and a combination of service, perseverance and heart I’d call “loyalty.”

“The Wizard of Oz” wasn’t a big moneymaker immediately. “Gone With the Wind” won the Oscar for best picture, but as more people saw “Oz,” many seemed to take it to heart. It became an American classic. It resonated with our values: understanding and making difficult decisions while sticking together and standing up to power. 

We all have our opinions about who should be our leader at the national level. I vote one way and my brother in the Lower 48 votes the other. Here in Alaska, many of us think the plan to give $2 billion yearly from Alaska’s treasury to our three major oil leaseholders for many years, with no legal obligation to spend it in Alaska for new production and new jobs, is a bad idea.

Sixteen Republicans and Democrats in the state Senate agreed that standing together against the flood of Outside money, Gov. Parnell and the state House was in the best interests of the people of Alaska. That bipartisan coalition across the aisle by members of both parties working together for Alaska’s common good is needed today more than ever, I think.

Senate versus House opinions about giving away no-strings money in hopes of creating Alaska employment will be judged by Alaska voters this Election Day. Which brings us back to baseball.   

Both parties will win some races and lose some on Tuesday, and life will continue into 2013 and beyond. I sincerely believe that the bipartisan working group shows better judgement for Alaska’s future. I’m equally certain that our partisan opponents are also sincere in their beliefs.

My strongest wish is that all registered Alaskans exercise their best judgment and vote in this 2012 general election. I hope they vote for working together for Alaska; it may cause them to vote for candidates outside their usual parties. A bipartisan Alaska Senate partnership works best for all of us. Good luck! Like baseball, enjoy the game and please, go vote. 

Don Gray, a 42-year resident of Fairbanks, is chairman of the Alaska Democratic Party. He taught history for 23 years at Lathrop High School, followed by 12 years as a New York Stock Exchange-registered broker and financial adviser.

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