My friend Michael J. Totten at City Journal:
Yes, rural Oregonians are more culturally conservative than urban Oregonians. Rural people are more culturally conservative than their urban counterparts everywhere in the world. Oregon, though, is not fighting a cultural civil war. Rather, people on the inland eastern side of the state have an entirely different set of priorities. Rural voters are being micromanaged by Democratic politicians elected in Portland, whose land-use and water-rights policies are inflicting at times devastating economic hardship on the other side of the mountains. Contrary to Frank, they prefer the Republican Party not despite their economic interests but because of them. If the Democrats want to win back these votes in the upcoming midterms, the first thing they need to do is stop kidding themselves. Understanding Oregon is a good place to start.
Oregon is divided geographically, culturally, and politically by the Cascade Mountains, a spectacular range of volcanoes roughly 100 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean that pick up where the Sierra Nevadas leave off, stretching from Lassen County in northern California to the international border with British Columbia. Those mountains are invisible on non-topographical maps. No political boundary takes them into account. The state line between Oregon and Washington mostly follows the Columbia River, and the international border between the United States and Canada follows the 49th parallel. The Cascade Mountains are natural borders, however. Instead of dividing the Pacific Northwest into northern and southern halves along the Columbia River, it might have made more sense to place Portland and Seattle in one state and everything between the Cascades and the Rockies in another. Coming from Portland, I feel more at home in Seattle and even in Vancouver, British Columbia, than I do just an hour east of my house. ...
Read the rest at the link. Michael is well known for his dispatches from Beirut and elsewhere, but he is very knowledgeable about his native Northwest and it's a pleasure to see him address issues close to home. (Michael and I went on a short road trip together back in 2005 and I wrote about it here.)