Over at Politico, Robert M. Eisinger analyzes the upcoming election battle between Oregon Republican senator Gordon Smith, and Democratic challenger Jeff Merkley. Smith is the last remaining Republican senator from the coastal West, and many from Oregon’s progressive/liberal strongholds are feeling confident about ousting him this time around. Eisinger describes the political climate in Oregon (“chill” and trending Blue), and opines on the kind of lefties one finds in Oregon.
“Oregon’s liberal enclaves of Portland, Eugene and Ashland are abundantly weird. Citizens discuss (or embrace) paganism, Wicca massage, sustainable arugula farms and nonmedicinal marijuana with ease. Recycle an old bridge by converting it into a downtown bicycle-and-pedestrian-only path to the art galleries? Let’s consider it. Latte in hand, these earnest anti-war protesters do not conceal their disdain for the establishment. (Can agnostics be mad as hell?) The progressives (liberals are so yesterday) listen to three radio stations exclusively: Pacifica’s KBOO, the local NPR affiliate and Air America. Surely they are ready for a verbal bomb-thrower, but what about the rest of the state?”
It seems that embracing, or even discussing, modern Paganism makes you “abundantly weird” and outside the mainstream. Then again, sustainable farming, opposing the Iraq war, and wanting to recycle run-down infrastructure does too, which makes many millions of Americans across the country potentially (and “abundantly”) “weird”.
While Robert M. Eisinger brands acceptance and adherence to modern Paganism strange, real Pagans continue to make inroads into mainstream politics. For example, Rita Moran (whom I interviewed recently), is a state Democratic party official from Maine, and “out” Pagan. While Moran recently lost her bid to become a DNC official and superdelegate, she was selected to be a part of the Maine delegation at the DNC national convention according to fellow Maine resident (and Pagan) Jane Raeburn.
“Pagan Democrat Rita Moran did not win election to the Democratic National Committee at last weekend’s state convention. She did, however, win a delegate’s seat at the Democratic National Convention, supporting Barack Obama. (Maine is one of two states, Nebraska being the other, that allows a split delegation — we’re sending 16 Obama delegates and 9 Clinton ones.) I expect there have been other Pagan delegates in the past, but she plans to wear a pentacle and attend the Religious Caucus as a Pagan while she is there. The local Pagan community will be raising money to help her defray the expected $2,000-$3,000 cost of attending the national convention.”
The fact is that as Pagan populations increase, who we vote for and support will become more and more important to the “mainstream”. We are no longer the fringe, but a part of America’s religious tapestry. A fact exemplified by Rita Moran’s upcoming presence at the Democratic Religious Caucus. If Paganism is “abundantly weird”, then perhaps Hunter S. Thompson is right, “when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro.”