I know when terrible public figures die, some people will say mean things and other people will give quotes about refusing to celebrate anyone's death... you know how it goes.
I have been thinking about one death recently that I didn't celebrate, but for which I did feel relief.
It was Dennis Richardson.
Shocking, I know.
He was a member of my church, though in a different city so I had no personal knowledge of him. He had a beautiful family. I am no fan of people getting cancer. But still, I was relieved that he died.
He was elected at a time when Republicans nationally were targeting Secretary of State elections. They were being prioritized over governors then.
It was smart. People pay less attention to the down ballot. It's not as flashy, but if you want to influence elections, it is a great position to be in. I'm guessing it was inspired by part of the Voting Rights Act being struck down in 2013, but maybe the same people pushing that case were pushing the elections. I'm sure some of the reduced voting hours, eliminated ballot boxes, and voter purges are related.
Even before that, think about Katherine Harris running Florida's election while running W's campaign there. You know, people said it was a Democrat who designed the infamous butterfly ballot, and that is technically true. Theresa LePore registered as a Democrat in 1996 to help win an election, and then switched to Independent a few years after confusing many elderly Jewish people into voting for Holocaust denier Pat Buchanan.
(I do hope some of this is a reminder to pay attention to the down ballot, and also at least some attention to what is happening in other states.)
I know that Richardson promised to be non-partisan, but I had concerns. They became worse when he wanted to start redistricting before the census. I know some people like to complain about how their counties are underrepresented, but that's because of people. If Umatilla County has about 80,000 people and Multnomah County has closer to 800,000, that is more votes. That is fair. Trying to change that would be more unfair.
It would also be hard to sabotage, but I think Richardson was going to give it a shot, so yes, I was relieved when he died.
I have been thinking about this for two reasons.
Most recently, I keep getting phone messages encouraging me to vote for Kim Thatcher so she can continue Dennis Richardson's legacy. This makes her the only state candidate I actively hate. No thank you.
But also, as Mitch McConnell's body shows early signs of decay, and Trump apparently overcame Coronavirus via great medical care that included steroids (like he needs that in his system), and Republicans keep showing their determination to hold super-spreader events - including for the incompetent justice they shoved through, but forget relief packages! - I would not mourn their deaths.
I might not feel much relief, either, because there has already been so much harm done.
However, I know considerably more harm has been felt by other people, and if anyone dies and the death is celebrated by people have lost ground and suffered and lost relatives to disease that they could not get high-quality medical care for, or who can't find their children to be reunited with them, or who have lost businesses because more relief went to those who are more powerful and better-resourced and can apply faster, I will not shame their celebrations. They can have fireworks and socially distanced parades, and I will wish them joy.
But I will still be stuck regretting that it didn't happen sooner, before so much harm was done.