To the Promised Land by Tom Marsh

I moved to Oregon in 2004 and jumped right into local politics.  But I was always focused on the current campaigns, and my Oregon political frame of reference basically started in 2004.  Reading Marsh's To the Promised Land has filled in the many blanks I had around why Oregon legislates the way we do, why are beaches are named things like Oswald.

Marsh's perspective as a Democratic Legislator slants his version of the past, but he clearly states his biases throughout the storytelling.  What I appreciate most about his work is his extensive research and focus on how laws were developed in Oregon.  He highlights key lawmakers over the last 200 years, and gives an overview of the social context, so that the reader has an idea of the mood of voting Oregonians when certain bills were passed into laws.

I really appreciated reading this history during an intense election when Oregon is once again trying to pass a revenue measure.  To the Promised Land details our difficulty in passing meaningful revenue to fund essential services.  Reading through the years of legislative process, you get a good feel for the values that Oregonians have voted since the beginning.  

I probably would not have suffered through the detailed accounts of candidate campaigns and voter registration numbers that Marsh so meticulously reports before I worked with candidates. But this fall I was happy to spend a few moments each evening to get through a few more chapters of Oregon's history with Marsh to have a great understanding of where we have been, and the possibilities that are in front of us.  This is a must read for anyone interested in running for office in Oregon.