Tuesday, November 1, 2022

Is Oregon Turning Red?

The business of government is governing. You can have the most diverse political leaders. You can have leaders who support all of your favorite causes. You can have leaders who look the part, but who seem to spend more time partying than working.  

The bottom line is that they have to produce results. They need to govern a city, a state or a nation. If the leader looks impressively leaderly, if he believes in everything you want him to believe, and you see chaos unfolding in your neighborhood, none of it will matter.

Now, it seems that the Portland, OR Democratic leadership has managed to shoot itself in the head. According to Leighton Woodhouse’s reporting, the city of Portland has fallen apart. The people of Oregon are on the verge of electing as governor a Republican, one Christian Drazan. It’s like a tectonic political event.

One needs mention that Woodhouse refers often to the inept and highly unpopular governor, Kate Brown, but does not mention the inept and highly unpopular mayor, Ted Wheeler. Surely, the mayor bears some responsibility for the state of his city. Apparently, there is no mayoral election this year. 

Woodhouse describes a scene that seems even to be worse than most of America’s other mismanaged blue cities. Portland’s downtown resembles a hippie commune, were drug addiction and mental illness are the order of the day:

The murder rate is surging in Portland, especially among those living on the street. In a recent survey of Portland residents, 84% of those polled said they felt unsafe downtown at night, and 61% felt the same way during the day. Eighty-two percent want more police in the city.

Drug addiction is as bad as ever. “There is no evidence that Measure 110 has reduced drug use, drug-related crime, or overdose in the state,” Keith Humphreys, a psychologist who specializes in addiction and served as a senior advisor in the Obama administration, told me, referring to a progressive 2020 initiative that decriminalized drug possession. Meanwhile, Mexico’s Sinaloa drug cartel is active in “every corner of the state”, as The Oregonian puts it. (Police in Eugene recently seized 18 pounds of fentanyl in a single traffic stop, enough to kill most of the state of Oregon.)

Society abhors a vacuum, and in this case a Mexican cartel has moved in and set up shop.

One consequence-- people are leaving town:

And, for the first time in over a decade, Portland is shrinking, with young adults leaving in particularly large numbers: between 2020 and 2021, the county that includes Portland had a net loss of more than 4,000 residents between the ages of 25 and 29. Oregon as a whole has experienced one of the biggest slowdowns in population growth in the country.

Former residents are blunt in their assessment of the city:

Angela Renteria, a longtime Portland resident who used to work for a downtown branch of U.S. Bank said she’s watched Portland “completely turn to shit.”

“The homeless situation has skyrocketed,” she said. “Mental health has gone downhill.” The decline has cast a pall over public life. Renteria is a smoker, and every time she lights up a cigarette outside, she said, she’s accosted. “I work really hard for my $10 pack of cigarettes,” she said. People come up to her and ask to bum one after another after another. When she says no, they call her “a fucking bitch,” she said.

“The biggest thing to me, though—the most off-putting thing, is open defecation,” she said. “I’m walking down the street with my kids going to a bookstore, and someone is squatted on the sidewalk taking a shit.”

As of now, the leading candidate for governor is Christine Drazen. She is Republican who is slowly detaching herself from the national party:

Drazan thinks the real problem is drug addiction—not high rent. She wants to “end encampments,” repeal Measure 110 and expand addiction-treatment services, in addition to building more housing. “We have to help Oregonians get sober and stay sober,” she said in August in response to a series of questions posed by Oregon Public Broadcasting.

If Drazan wins, it will be “a shock to the system,” said Parker Butterworth, a Democratic consultant who works frequently for Oregon candidates. Democrats will be relentless and myopic in positioning themselves to win the seat back in four years. “Right at the beginning she has to make the case to Democrats, to the center left, that she’s not an enemy. She needs to tap into that old Oregonian way of independence and populism.”

But, is the rioting and violence being organized? Well, thanks to the rather inept Whoopi Goldberg, people who watch her show, the View, which shows us how low politics can go, can go on believing that the threat to cities and American itself is the right wing. Unable to give Ted Cruz any credit for remarking the BLM and Antifa insurrection, Whoopi declared foolishly that there has been no Antifa insurrection.

Woodhouse fills her and the rest of us in:

There’s a stunning amount of violence from Antifa,” he said, referring to the self-styled radical “anti-fascist” activists who are particularly numerous and active in Portland. 

Antifa has become the most dramatic symbol of the city’s lawlessness. 

When Antifa started moving into downtown, it made business impossible. The branch closed:

Angela Renteria’s old job, at U.S. Bank, was near where the Black Lives Matter protests in the summer of 2020 happened. 

“They had to shut down the branch—people were blocking the streets, throwing trash cans at cars,” she told me, adding: “Right after Columbus Day, they spray-painted our bank. Our higher-ups and security instructed us on what to do if things got out of hand: you’re going to lock yourselves in the vault.”

As for the local constabulary, it was MIA. The police stood down and handed the downtown area to revolutionary thugs. These latter did what they know how to do, the only thing they know how to do, to destroy:

She said the entire time she worked at the branch, she saw “maybe two police cars the whole time. I saw ambulances, fire trucks, but no cops. They just let them do their thing.”

Denise Olson, the floating-house resident, echoed Renteria. “A solid year of rioting—daily, nightly,” she said. “The city of Portland allowed that rioting to go on for so long.” She believes the rioting contributed enormously to the crime in her neighborhood by tying up the police downtown and leaving the rest of the city to fend for itself. “If there wasn’t an immediate life or death situation you weren’t going to get a response,” she said.

In any event, voters in Oregon will be choosing between Democrat Tina Kotek, Republican Christine Drazan, and the unaffiliated Betsy Johnson. As the system works out there, if no candidate receives a majority of the votes, there will be a run-off.

In the end, it’s a reality bites story. The Democrats have been exercising complete political power in Oregon for over forty years. And they cannot spin their way out of the horrors they have allowed to metastasize in its main city. 


370H55V I/me/mine said...

There are no runoff elections in Oregon. Drazan will win by plurality vote, because if there were one, she would lose in the second round.


Walt said...

Anyone else remember the night after night footage of the non-existent antifa tossing molotovs at the Portland federal court and shining lasers into the eyes of the guardsmen? Anyone remember seeing the after images of a wrecked, burnt out graphittied and garbage strewn courthouse building? And yet exactly while that was going on IN THEIR OWN CITY Portlanders of a particular political persuasion were posting on social media that it wasn’t really that bad, that it was only happening on a few blocks and the rascally right wing media was exaggerating it. One can only wonder how many will still cling to their ideological delusion or whether reality finally bit them. I’m not taking any bets.