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Opinion | Lessons for America From a Weird Portland

I think the city has some basic problems with how it is run, but it also has a lot of strengths and social capital. For example, the death rate in Covid-19 was low because people wore masks and looked out for each other.

So what can the country learn from this?

One part of the Democratic Party, which includes President Biden and policy experts to his left like Elizabeth Warren, is focused on practical ways to make people’s lives better, such as vaccinations, high-speed Internet, highways, child allowances, and day care. Another part of the party focuses on identity politics and big shows to make up for past wrongs and try to make society more fair.

It’s not that simple, of course, and many progressives, like me, believe in both broadband and righting wrongs from the past. But some “woke” moves, like Dr. Seuss’s publisher pulling some of his books, look silly, and others don’t seem to understand how complicated things are in the real world.

Last summer, people on the left in downtown Seattle set up a six-block “no-cop zone” to protect the public from police violence. Then, in the next 10 days, six people were shot in the area, which just shows how important it is to have police there.

When the Board of Education in San Francisco voted to change the names of 44 schools, including ones named for Lincoln and Washington, it became a joke. This month, the board went back on its decision because parents said the board should be focusing on getting kids into those buildings.

Someone asked me if it was true that calling someone a “illegal alien” in New York City can get you a $250,000 fine. I told her that was crazy and just more right-wing propaganda. Then I looked it up, and it turns out that if you call someone a “illegal alien” with the intention of insulting them, you can be fined up to $250,000. Is that the best way to make someone’s life better?

So, when I think about the Democratic Party’s goals and toolkits from this dirty but still beautiful city of Portland, I come to two conclusions.


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