Interesting little chart (h/t to Matt Yglesias) that goes a long way to explain stuff about my home state.
More than anything else, living here in the Beaver State reminds me of the time I spent in Panama. Like the nation of the isthmus, Oregon is divided into a city and a forest; you either live in the metropolis (about 1.5 million of Oregon's 3 million people live within thirty minutes drive of Pioneer Square in downtown Portland) or you're a fucking rube. Like the Country With The Canal, Oregonians have developed something of a curiously amorphous sense of their identity that centers around NOT being Callifornian and NOT being a Seattleite (although our news outlets seem to think we care deeply about the Seadogs and Marinoids).
But one thing we can claim for our very own: we are the MOST schizophrenic state in the nation. Our Democrats are bluer than blue; we love us some liberality.Give us socialized medicine! Give us bake sales for bombers and avalanches of cash for painters and dancers and musicians! The more socialist the more better for much of Portland as well as some sizeable portions of Salem and Eugene.
BUT...our Republicans are the red and meaty kind. War! Guns! Chastity! Heterosexuality! We love us some Caucasian, Pledge-of-Allegiance-recitin', free-market-havin',Chevy F250-drivin' and Budweiser-drinkin' rednecks out here beyond the urban growth boundries. Get out to places where the trolleys don't run, places like Wheeler County, Ontario, Burns...them's Real Men Places, where Ay-rabs, wimmen and eggheads know enough to STFU 'cause if we want their opinion we'll beat it out of 'em.
This year the ugly schism between Red Oregon and Blue Oregon is playing out in the Smith-Merkley Race. If the election were held in the three metro counties (Multnomah, Washington and Clackamas) Merkley would win handily - even the "security moms" in Beaverton and "meth dads" in Lents are tired of Smith's Bush-bum-sucking ways.But Smith, who is running an even more-content-free-then-usual GOP campaign (including running ads fulminating about Merkley's part in redecorating the state capitol and something about being soft on criminals featuring a rape victim implying that the evil liberal loves him some rapists), is going to sweep every rural country with the possible exception of Josephine (Ashland), Lane (Eugene) and maybe (very maybe) Deschutes (Bend).
The kinda sad thing about this is that anywhere else Merkley would be the centerist candidate. He's just your standard issue TV politician. The guy I liked, Steve Novick, was a real social democrat who would have pissed the GOP off like a gay paratrooper. The State Democrats campaigned against him like crazy because...well, their theory was that he was too far left for the hicks to vote for. Fucketty fuck, guys: Wayne Morse would be too far left-wing for the fucking hicks to vote for. They're not going to vote for Merkley or anybody else to the left of Joeseph fucking Goebbels. Grow a brain, Dems, look at the damn chart. You're going to win in Oregon by getting out the liberals or quashing the conservatives - they're not crossing the line - they're waaaayyyy to far apart.We're a strange little state, and never more so than now. Interesting times. Interesting.
Update 10/15: One thing I forgot to mention - which is pretty amazing when you realize it's central to the social and political reality of Oregon - is that we're WHITE. I'm talking whitey-white, Stormfront-fantasy-white, go-for-days-and-never-see-a-person-darker-than-cafe-au-lait-white. This unrelieved whiteness makes for a very peculiar society, where to be African-American or, to a somewhat lesser degree, Hispanic, is to be effectively invisible. There is NO viable nonwhite political base in Oregon. None. There is no need for any politician running for office outside a Portland municipal post to even consider what a nonwhite Oregonian would think, care or vote.
I read that Bible Spice made some comment about New Hampshire and Alaska being a "microcosm of America" and thought; naaaaahhhh. NH and AK are microcosms of Oregon, fucktard. A bunch of rich white liberals and a bunch of poor, white conservatives. Nice places, pretty country, but "America" in 2008? Not so much. Fortunately places like the BOS-NYC-PHI-DC corridor, LA and Chicago manage to be "America" and generate tons of revenue and social vitality so we can continue to be our wierd-ass white selves.