“Portland is not Portlandia anymore.”
It's something we say around here, and it resonates, because the series starring Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein was both popular and infamous depending on who you talked to and their opinion of the effect the show had on Portland. But the civic time and tenor depicted on the Independent Film Channel (IFC) series is definitely history now.
Chalk it up to that standard conservative talking point: the decline of Blue cities under Democratic “leadership.”
Stare wrongly at the wrong homeless person, cut off the wrong car in certain neighborhoods, or just be a bystander when the gangs start shooting, and you could end up dead. Was it always so? Not like this. Crime has skyrocketed since Brownstein’s character asked after the previous life and times of the chicken she was ordering for dinner.
Once a commenter on a story I’d written at a conservative website, after seeing that my bio included Portland, wrote: “Portland? You must feel surrounded.”
It’s true that Portland is blue. It gets a lot of conservative bad press. Urinals were omitted from blueprints for the new mega-million dollar city hall—something about gender neutrality? When Antifa besieged downtown in 2020, resulting in months of rioting and millions in property damage, President Trump offered to send in the National Guard. City hall refused the help, and vilified Trump instead. A Trump fan wearing an insignia was murdered by a rabble rouser who laid in wait at a parking garage. The killer was later gunned-down by federal agents in a Washington State apartment complex parking lot.
Downtown hasn’t recovered. Businesses are still fleeing. Slabs of plywood cover many street-level windows. Intractable homelessness besotting block after block and open-air shooting galleries have turned Portland into a no-go zone for thousands of locals and decimated the tourist and convention trade. The pandemic played a part in creating the current malaise, but that’s over, and there’s been little discernible bounce-back.
I know where to go, when to go, and when and where not to go. If you get out into the neighborhoods you’ll meet lots of nice people, most of them Democrats. They’re concerned too. But as sure as New York District Attorney Alvin Bragg’s sham indictment has made Donald Trump’s reelection more possible, they’ll vote again for the candidates and governance that got Portland here in the first place.
Portlandia’s mantra was genius: “The dream of the nineties is alive in Portland.”
There’s no dream that’s alive here now. The one-party decrepitude that has even liberals complaining, has no precedent. In one of the whitest big cities in America, it’s the result of the final triumph of white guilt over race, incarceration, gender orientation, and traditionalist patriarchy. It’s the progressive go-zone that increasing numbers of law-abiding citizens across the spectrum think twice about visiting.