Election 2020

It's Not Safe to Be a Trump Supporter in Portland These Days

A few weeks before Election Day a friend from my patriot group brought a bunch of Trump lawn signs for anyone who wanted them. I knew immediately that I would not be taking one home. I would leave them for the people who would be brave enough to display them.

Subsequent events in downtown Portland, Ore., provide an excellent example of why, though I very publicly (through my contributions at PJ Media) supported Trump, I would not post such a sign in my yard.

I live about two miles from the downtown core, so could not hear the flash-bang grenades or see the rising clouds of tear gas. The extent of my involvement was to tell my adult children not to get a wild haircut and go down there. The riots in Portland ended up being the worst of a slew of riots in major city downtowns. Gunfire erupted on a bridge over the Willamette River, which had been blocked during the protest. Ironically, for all the African-American angst in the wake of Trump’s victory, it was two allegedly gang-affiliated African-American men who fired the shots, after feeling threatened by the protestors.

In my quiet neighborhood, thus far, the eventuality of Trump/Pence manifests as an onset of depression.

It’s one thing to write from a partisan perspective. There are outlets in the system for disagreement with the author, in comment sections, or in the ability to submit op-eds in rebuttal. There’s also a built-in (but probably unreliable) understanding that anyone educated enough to read a political website is civilized enough to keep their disagreement nonviolent.

It’s quite another thing to post an in-your-face sign in a front yard. The reason is impulse control—the lack of it–among a certain percentage of the population. In some places, that percentage is higher than in others. Portland is not the place to flaunt a Trump sign—not, in the immortal words of Pulp Fiction fixer Winston Wolf, played by Harvey Keitel, “if self-preservation is an instinct you possess.”

I won’t bash Portlandia. The vast majority here are great people, even the misguided progressives. But there is an element here, too, that rivals the worst in my hometown of Oakland, Calif., for its willingness to go to the extremes of protest.

The whole election season was surprising this year, but three surprises resonated with me. The first was in the first debate, when candidate Trump declined to pledge his support for the eventual nominee.  The second surprise came when President-elect Trump was swept into office.

I joined some of our group at an election night party, and though the local results were mixed, the national election was celebrated. We felt like hopeful citizens of a larger America.

I was in for another surprise. Though I live in a city that veers sharply left on the political spectrum, I am surprised by the vehemence of the reaction to the results of the election. That’s probably because I never allowed myself to believe Trump could beat the odds set against him by virtually every stronghold of the political universe. I never considered what trouble might look like should he win.

Anyone in these parts intrepid enough to sport a Trump sign has surely taken it down by now.