Beyond the Hipster Ghetto

I like Portland, and I mix well with the hipsters here, culturally speaking. We can talk about books, art, music, exotic food, whatever, and it's all good. The minute we get into politics, though, everything changes. It's always the "elephant in the room" - so to speak - and there is just no getting away from the fact that I simply don't see the world the same way they do. This is what I mean when I affectionately refer to Portland as "the hipster ghetto". It's a densely populated place with a certain culture, a very rich culture to be sure, but it is a walled garden. There's this whole world of social norms, social signals, social codes, that you have to navigate. And politics is very much a part of that world. Deviate from the codes at your own peril.

Go outside of that walled garden, though, and the picture changes rapidly. A hundred miles to the east, across the Cascades, lies another Oregon entirely. It's a land of ranchers and Tea Partiers and Three Percenters; travel east from Bend and you're in John Day, the site of a recent memorial rally for LaVoy Finicum where they held a teach-in on why ordinary Americans should care about LaVoy. And to the north, across the Columbia River, you're in Vancouver, Washington, a town I've so far only briefly visited but which seems more moderate and down-to-earth than my beloved Portlandia.

In the coming year, I'm looking forward to exploring the West (which lies east of the West Coast) and in particular that other Oregon.