Politics & Media
Sep 29, 2023, 06:27AM

The State of Portland in 2023

Portland isn’t running out of time. A thought like that can ruin your whole day, but not mine.

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When Canadian guitarist Rik Emmett penned the lyric opening to Triumph’s “Fight The Good Fight,” he could’ve been writing about anyplace on the planet at the threshold of autumn. In Portland, Native-American summer is upon us, a last stretch of good weather before the rains. There’s a sameness about the seasonal transition: for political conservatives, those few in Portland, this continuity has long been accepted as the way of things.

Population growth has stalled in the state, driven mostly by out-migration from Portland’s Multnomah County, but only in a fractional percentile. The usual socioeconomic suspects are cited by traditional Democrats, the only “conservative” plurality in the city: intractable homelessness, crime spikes absent any aggressive prosecution, and state and local taxes among the highest in the nation.

Conservatives scan the candidate slate for a new form of government voted in last election, a 12-person city council with members from 12 districts replacing the previous city council comprised of four councilors and the mayor. Each candidate is some stripe of progressive, the gradient ranging from Democrat to Communist. There hasn’t been anyone to enthusiastically vote for in this town for decades.

Embattled Mayor Ted Wheeler announced he won’t seek another term. Analysis across the leftist spectrum holds Wheeler conditionally responsible for the Portland’s woes, illustrated by John Cougar Mellencamp’s new song “The Eyes Of Portland.”

Those to the right-of-center see things differently. When President Trump offered to send in National Guard troops to quell the Antifa and BLM riots roiling the city in the summer of 2020, Wheeler turned him down and, in effect, told him to take his MAGA hat and shove it. Then the pandemic hit, and every institution in the city came onboard with what are now understood to be politically-motivated restrictions and scientifically meaningless protocols. Portland never recovered.

The news of Wheeler’s decision falls upon conservative, traditionalist ears as a rivulet of rainwater falls in a sodden gulch. There’s no effect, his successor will be cut from the same cloth.

It’s not all bad. Whole neighborhoods are populated with old-school and comparatively reasonable Democrats. It does rain a lot between November and May, but we only get two or three snowstorms and/or punishing heat waves a year. Global-justice motivated anthropogenic climate change belief is gospel in these parts; America must lead the way to the relinquishment of fossil fuels, no matter the impact on the national standard of living. Conservative citizens who remain here pay the $35 a year Arts Tax having never seen a piece of art generated by the tax, and, because we already know the incessant social justice messaging behind it, don’t want to.

Portland isn’t running out of time. This city is chalked up in the conservative mindset as already lost. Despite the waning days of summer, there’s a crispness in the air. From a distance, as Bette Midler once sang, Portland is beautiful. But there’s something else in the air, visible on worried faces. The possibility that Donald Trump may return to the White House.

A thought like that can ruin your whole day, but not mine.


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