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Left-Wing NYT Columnist Bemoans What ‘We Liberals’ Have Done To West Coast

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New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof argued Saturday that the West Coast’s version of liberalism just isn’t working, urging liberals to “face the painful fact that something has gone badly wrong where we’re in charge, from San Diego to Seattle.”

West Coast liberals accept a “yawning gulf between our values and our outcomes,” Kristof observed in his column, embracing contradictions like declaring “housing is a human right” while failing to actually “get people housed.” Kristof, who launched a bid to run for Oregon governor in 2022 but was found not to meet the three-year residency requirement to appear on the ballot, believes the problem is not liberalism itself, but the West Coast’s brand of liberalism that is “infected with an ideological purity that is focused more on intentions than on oversight and outcomes.”

“I’m an Oregonian who bores people at cocktail parties by singing the praises of the West, but the truth is that too often we offer a version of progressivism that doesn’t result in progress,” he wrote, pointing to disparities between liberal cities on the West Coast and East Coast.

“The two states with the highest rates of unsheltered homelessness are California and Oregon. The three states with the lowest rates of unsheltered homelessness are all blue ones in the Northeast: Vermont, New York and Maine,” he wrote. “Liberal Massachusetts has some of the finest public schools in the country, while liberal Washington and Oregon have below-average high school graduation rates.”

He critiqued West Coast liberals’ tendency to be “performative rather than substantive,” citing Oregon’s decision to funnel education dollars into putting free tampons in the boys bathrooms beginning in kindergarten.

“The inability of progressives, particularly in the Portland metro area, to deal with the nitty-gritty of governing and to get something done is just staggering,” Democratic Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer, whose district includes most of Portland, told the NYT. “People are much more interested in ideology than in actual results.”

Kristof suggested the problem may be connected to the lack of political competition on the West Coast.

“Perhaps on the West Coast we have ideological purity because there isn’t much political competition,” he wrote. “Republicans are irrelevant in much of the Far West, so they can’t hold Democrats’ feet to the fire — leading Democrats in turn to wander unchecked farther to the left.”

In 2023, blue states had the highest rates of homelessness, with Washington, D.C., New York, Vermont and Oregon topping the list, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

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