I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve written about things happening in Portland. It was the headquarters of the most aggressive Antifa mob in the country. It held hundreds of “mostly peaceful” protests, dozens of which were designated riots. It came surprisingly close to electing a communist Antifa supporter as mayor. It stupidly defunded the police and then saw a massive spike in shootings and homicides along with much longer wait times for 911 callers. The current police chief has said it will take years to recover from that decision. It has also done a pretty poor job dealing with the homelessness that is rampant in the city. Naturally all of this has been terrible for businesses.
All of this chaos and self-inflicted misery is repulsive to many Oregonians who live in the eastern portion of the state. So much so that they are ready to secede. As Jazz mentioned back in May, the plan is to move the border of Idaho so that the majority of the land that currently makes up Oregon becomes part of that more rural, more conservative state. It’s called the Greater Idaho plan. Here’s a current map of Idaho:
And here’s what Greater Idaho would look like:
Last week the Atlantic published a piece noting that this idea is actually the most successful secession movement in the country. Eight counties in Oregon have already voted to support it.
Last month, Harney County, in the high desert of eastern Oregon, became the state’s eighth to pass a nonbinding ballot measure supporting Darrow’s proposal. move oregon’s border signs now dot the region’s empty highways, and Mike McCarter, a retired agricultural nurseryman and gun-club owner who runs a group pushing for the boundary reshuffle, travels the state in a bright-red trucker hat bearing the slogan. “We don’t care to move, because we’re tied to our land here,” he told me recently. “So why not just allow us to be governed by another state?” He mentioned a supporter so certain that her property will become part of Idaho that she already flies its state flag on her lawn. “We’re going to be Idaho,” she told him.
Scenes from Portland, where Black Lives Matter protesters have sparred with the Proud Boys in paintball brawls over the past year, and worries that liberal lawmakers in Salem will outlaw diesel fuel and artificial insemination of animals, have calcified many rural Oregonians’ sense of total alienation from the west side of the state. “This is not the Oregon I know,” Sandie Gilson, one of Move Oregon’s Border’s “county captains,” told me. “We were farmers and ranchers and loggers. None of those values are left.” Today, half of Oregon’s population lives in the Portland metropolitan area alone. In eastern Oregon, Gilson pays for two emergency helicopter-airlift insurance plans in case she has to go to a hospital hundreds of miles away in Bend or Boise…
The Greater Idaho proposal would grant Idaho more than three-quarters of Oregon’s land, more than 870,000 of its residents, and access to the ocean; most specifics beyond this have yet to be envisioned. “Idaho fits with what I feel,” Mike Slinkard, a fifth-generation Oregonian who makes high-stealth hunting clothing, told me. “Oregon left us out in the cold. We don’t exist.”
A good chunk of the article touches on the fact that some of the people in rural Oregon, including those who support moving the border, have connections to various right-wing groups like the Three Percenters, Oath Keepers, etc. This is the part of Oregon, after all, where Ammon Bundy had a standoff with the Feds back in 2015-2016. Seven people were eventually charged and tried for that standoff and a jury acquitted all of them. The Atlantic article suggests this effort to create greater Idaho via the ballot box and state representatives is seen by some as a peaceful alternative to an armed secession. Some of that comes across in this discussion between McCarter and a woman who was curious about the greater Idaho proposal.
“There’s no death tax in Idaho,” McCarter said.
“That’s a plus,” she responded.
“And Idaho has a balanced budget,” he said. Another plus.
She asked whether Idaho would accept her daughter’s beautician license. McCarter told her those are the sorts of questions they’d still have to work out.
“Is this going to happen in our lifetime?” Cronin asked. “Texas has been dealing with this for 20 years. I’m 70.”
“Look,” McCarter said, “it’s a vent, instead of people picking up their guns.”
“If it gives people a place to put our energy, our frustration—I’m for it,” she said.
The chances of this actually happening are pretty slim. Legislators in both states would have to agree to it and then it would be sent to congress for approval. Getting that kind of change to happen would take years and probably a lot of luck in timing. For now, the greater Idaho movement is a sign of many rural Oregonians’ disgust with the vision of their state that regularly makes the news.