Timing is everything. “FEDS GO HOME,” read the more polite graffiti scrawled on Portland’s walls. “FEDS GO HOME,” read the signs waved by protesters. “FED’S GO HOME,” read the grammatically revolutionary t-shirt I bought on a downtown street corner. Last Thursday—the day I arrived in Portland—the federal agents did, in fact, go home (or at least withdrew from downtown and ended their occupation of the federal courthouse, which had been the primary target of protests). Thus I was able to entirely miss the dramatic nightly assaults of unidentified troops in fatigues clearing city blocks with guns drawn. But without the flamboyant violence and billowing tear gas, it became easier to see that what is happening in Portland was never really about the feds at all.