Invariably, when people know that I lived in Oregon they ask a common question: What is going on in Oregon? I get that question from both residents and non-residents. The major difference is that those who still live in Oregon pose the question in regard to Portland and the Willamette Valley (Eugene to Portland) while those unfamiliar with Oregon assume that Portland defines Oregon. The question is better phrased as What can be done to recover Portland? It is regularly asked with a sorrowful wishfullness because at one time Portland was the crown jewel of the Pacific Northwest – a modern city grown in the midst of Oregon’s famed forests and fed by the great Willamette River.
I’ve stopped asking the question myself and have concluded that Portland, like Detroit, Michigan, cannot be resurrected. If it is not dead yet, it is in its final throes. The odor emanating from its core is not just the smell of garbage, urine, feces and the growing body of the unwashed, but more and more the rot of a decaying corpse. Nothing can be done to resurrect Portland because the voters of Portland like it just the way it is as evidenced by the last several local and statewide elections where the voters of Portland overwhelmingly supported the far left progressive candidates who are responsible for the mess we see. Those who can no longer stand it are moving on – just like I did two decades ago. And as the outward migration increases, the jobs and wealth of those who leave are lost to Portland and Multnomah County (which are virtually synonymous both geographically and politically) and eventually to the State of Oregon itself.
But Oregon itself is not dying although the cancer that consumed Portland is growing. It can be stopped but it requires a whole different approach to politics than that used by the state’s major parties. Although former Speaker of the House Thomas “Tip” O’Neill purloined the saying from others, he made it famous:
“All politics is local”
Both state Democrats and Republicans focus their energies, issues and finances on electing their gubernatorial candidates and a majority in both houses of the state legislature. In large part the ignore the local offices – elected and appointed – as being less important. The Democrats have the upper hand based on party registration and the Republicans have enabled their dominance by focusing on the same stakes. The point here is that if you believe that all politics is local – particularly in states dominated by a single party emanating from confined geographical area (Portland) – then you have to pay attention to your local issues. It’s not that national or statewide issues are not important. Rather it is a recognition that the plans by those who oppose Oregon’s dominance by progressives and its drift toward a lawless, socialist state are not working. The limited success ratio for Republicans and unaffiliated voters reflects that reality. In fact, it has been rendered impotent by ignoring local issues which you can impact in favor of statewide issues that you cannot.
To a degree, progressives in the Democrat Party have seized upon this concept. They actively recruit, train and elect candidates to local offices – most of which come without compensation. They become the training ground for future progressive candidates for local paid positions for city and county offices – mayor, city council, city attorney, county commission, county attorney, local judges, etc. It makes little difference to progressives whether these positions are identified as partisan or non-partisan, they insure that they are populated by highly partisan recruits. And they serve as the vehicle for introducing progressive programs into our schools – critical race theory, transgender nullification of traditional sexual identity, anti-capitalism, anti-religious curriculum, etc. And all of this is being financed – both in terms of campaign contributions and employment – by the state’s public employee unions. Scratch a progressive and you’ll find a public employee or a beneficiary of a government funded program.
And that is precisely what is required to stop the progressive cancer from spreading. Recruiting and campaign financing for local offices – school boards, water boards, zoning boards – anything that requires an election. And the candidates selected should be focused on those offices and not statewide or national issues. Running a candidate who is hopping mad about desecration of the flag is admirable but not terribly important when the issue is critical race theory, or paving the roads, or constructing a plan to discourage the migration of homeless.
The ancillary benefit of these new groups solving problems is that they make the community more inviting for growth. It is the flip side of what progressives have done for Portland. They have tackled the homeless problem by making it more comfortable for the homeless thus creating a migration of homeless to Portland. They have dealt with the drug problem by legalizing drugs, providing drug use shelters, defunding the police and subsidizing the addicts for shelter, food and medical care thus attracting even more drug addled vagrants. And the list goes on and on. Portland chose to accommodate those who won’t/don’t work, won’t care for themselves, won’t obey the laws, won’t refrain from imposing on others, won’t conform to health and safety standards, won’t do anything productive. Portland has moved from the City That Works, to the City That’s Weird to the City That Won’t.
But most importantly do not make the assumption that the Portland business community made as they stood watching while Portland failed. The quality of life that they thought was immutable proved to be just a saying – and will always be just that unless you fight to protect it. All politics is local – act like it or you will become an extension of Portland’s progressives. Don’t think
that your quality of life doesn’t need your active participation because the progressives are working hard EVERY day to destroy it.