Photo of Ted CaseThe other day, I met Amelia Earhart. OK, not the Amelia Earhart, the legendary aviator who disappeared over the Pacific Ocean in 1937. But I did meet Amelia Rose Earhart who, while not related to her namesake, shares her fascination with flying and proved it in 2014 by piloting a single-engine airplane around the globe.

Earhart’s compelling talk at the Oregon Rural Electric Cooperative Association summer meeting in Hood River— “Learning to Love the Turbulence”—is certainly appropriate for the nation’s choppy political times.

Like most electric cooperative associations, ORECA was born in politics. We have thrived for nearly 80 years by representing our members no matter who is in power in Washington, D.C., or Salem, Oregon. While political discourse in this country has never exactly been smooth air, this trip somehow feels different, as though we are flying through an area never before charted.

The political atmosphere is less partisan than it is tribal, with the percentage of people who are friends with someone in the other political party at an all-time low.

The partisanship isn’t exactly attracting new voters to the traditional parties. Consider these statistics in Oregon: Since May 2016, Republicans have gained 15,961 new voter registrations, and Democrats 5,450. However, nonaffiliated registrations have exploded, with 487,983 new voters not aligned with either party.

How does one survive the turbulence that is politics in 2018? It’s a tough course to navigate, but thankfully, electric cooperatives have friends on both sides of the political aisles— something for which we should be proud.

We can also look to the original Amelia Earhart for inspiration on how to repair our politics. She plotted her course by looking to the stars. While she meticulously planned her voyage, she also wasn’t afraid to take a risk and step outside her comfort zone.

There are no easy answers. With midterm elections only months away, we may yet again turn to both Amelia Earharts for another lesson on how to survive the turbulence ahead.

Don’t forget to buckle up.

Ted Case
Executive Director