While most of them didn’t draw all that much attention, there were a number of elections held around the country on Tuesday. These ballots mostly decided local races and issues with a few notable exceptions. But out in Oregon, there was an interesting if futile development. Voters in Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur and Sherman counties voted to have their counties leave Oregon and join Idaho. This is happening in the eastern, rural portion of the state, so while we’re talking about a smaller population of voters than are found in the coastal urban areas, those counties account for roughly 75% of the state’s territory. In all of the counties, the vote wasn’t unanimous but it was fairly lopsided, with the “Greater Idaho” initiative winning by 20 points or more. Unfortunately for those voters, they probably have a better chance of seeing Santa Claus than living to see this change be approved. (OPB)
Five counties voted in favor of leaving Oregon in Tuesday elections, the latest push by a coalition that wants a large chunk of Oregon to join Idaho instead. That border shift is not likely to happen anytime soon…
Mike McCarter, spokesman for the Greater Idaho movement, called it a big win.
“This election proves that rural Oregon wants out of Oregon,” he said in a statement Wednesday morning. “If Oregon really believes in liberal values such as self-determination, the legislature won’t hold our counties captive against our will. If we’re allowed to vote for which government officials we want, we should be allowed to vote for which government we want as well.”
The measures call for the counties to start considering the move and what it would mean.
The reason the linked report suggests that these counties won’t be jumping ship to Idaho any time soon is that it’s virtually impossible. In order to move Idaho’s border to the west, they would need the approval of the legislatures in Idaho, Oregon and the federal government. Oregon is controlled by Democrats and their party currently holds majorities in the House and Senate as well. There is absolutely no way they will agree to dilute the power of one of their liberal strongholds.
Idaho would probably agree in a heartbeat, of course. But they can’t do it on their own. Besides, none of the states’ borders have moved significantly in ages and this would be a massive shift, relegating Oregon to being barely bigger than New Jersey.
This does, however, say something significant about the liberal dominance of the state government in Oregon. What does it say about your style of government and your policies when a majority of the residents of roughly three-quarters of your territory no longer even want to be associated with their home state? We’ve seen such “civil wars” before on a regular basis for similar reasons. Upstate New York has wanted to peel off New York City for ages, though to no avail. More recently, West Virginia offered to adopt much of the more rural (and conservative) southwestern part of Virginia. But their chances are no better than Oregon’s for the same reasons.
I’ve always thought that warnings of a new civil war in America were generally overblown hyperbole. These days I’m not so sure. I’ve already watched plenty of conservative friends pull up stakes and leave New York for redder territory. It’s still happening now. I’m guessing there must be at least some of the same syndrome in the reverse direction, though that’s probably made up for by the number of blue-staters fleeing the disasters they created at home for greater opportunities in states like Texas. Eventually, the population may just settle into ideologically stratified territories. At that point, I certainly don’t want an actual militant “civil war,” but I’d probably be willing to listen to ideas for an amicable divorce.