Finding common ground with Oregon
Oregon has bigger trees than South Carolina.
We have bigger cockroaches.
Oregon has a higher-ranked college football team than our state. We have two teams, to only one for Oregon, in The Associated Press’ top 14.
Oregon has Portland.
We have the Port City, aka the Holy City, aka Charleston.
Portland, as I saw during a visit there last week, has a terrific mass transit system (light rail, streetcars, buses).
Charleston does not.
Portland has bike lanes galore. Charleston does not. Yet.
Oregon has voted for the Democratic presidential nominee in the last seven general elections. South Carolina has voted for the Republican nominee in the last nine.
Portland has the Jefferson High School Democrats — athletic teams, not a political club. Alums include Baseball Hall of Famer Joe Gordon, Heisman Trophy winner Terry Baker and Pro Football Hall of Famer Mel Renfro.
Orangeburg has The Times and Democrat newspaper, but our state has no high school teams that call themselves the Republicans. Yet.
Oregon has “Portlandia,” the Independent Film Channel TV series that spoofs the city’s hippie-dippie, Left Coast vibe.
South Carolina has “Welcome to Myrtle Manor,” a “reality” show pitched on the Discovery Channel website as the saga of a landlady who “dreams of turning Myrtle Manor into the five-star trailer park she has always dreamed of, with amenities like an on-site hair salon and a new above-ground swimming pool.”
But lest you overrate the ideological and cultural gaps between Oregon and South Carolina, consider last week’s evidence to the contrary:
Hear them roar
A friendly young lady minding the In Other Words feminist bookstore, which is featured on “Portlandia,” exhibited no animus toward me despite presumably perceiving my gender’s longtime patriarchal oppression of hers.
OK, so four folks holding a discussion session in that store decried “white conservative churches,” “corporations” and “yuppies.” They were especially irate about “crazy Republicans” trying to block the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare.
A friendly old man walking a friendly old mutt, when told I was from Charleston, said a visit to The Citadel several years ago positively transformed his previously negative attitude about the armed forces. He praised the cadets for their gracious manners, and said he was moved when they told guests of the many Citadel alums killed in the line of military duty from the Mexican War through our current conflicts.
A friendly bus driver named Ken turned another “Wrong Way” Wooten blunder into a grand tour to the end of his line, back and beyond. The Southern Cal fan said he played sandlot ball as a Los Angeles teen with future Steelers great (and 2006 Pennsylvania GOP gubernatorial nominee) Lynn Swann. Ken approved of the previous day’s firing of Trojans coach Lane Kiffin, branded the Oregon Ducks’ flashy uniforms a “gimmick,” and lamented the glut of new “safety” rules that put defensive players at a growing disadvantage. He didn’t mention Obamacare.
A Portland publication did focus on that unaffordable act: “The law provides an incentive for businesses to avoid new regulatory costs by limiting employee hours. The Obama administration, meanwhile, has delayed parts of the law, including the insurance mandate for businesses with 50 or more employees.” That correct appraisal didn’t come from a conservative journal. It came from an Oct. 2 editorial in The Oregonian, the top newspaper in that liberal state.
OK, so the editorial also criticized the GOP House’s shutdown stunt: “Engaging in budgetary brinkmanship over a law that passed three years ago is, to borrow the term used by California Rep. Devin Nunes, ‘moronic.’ Nunes, by the way, is a Republican.”
That was correct too.
Another accurate assessment from an Oregonian: The friendly cab driver who took us to the airport said he was from Somalia, that he escaped it 14 years ago and that despite having loved ones in the terrorism-torn land, he can’t go back. He also said that America is a great place to live.
And that includes Oregon, South Carolina, and everywhere in between.
Frank Wooten is assistant editor of The Post and Courier. His email is firstname.lastname@example.org.