The Growing Campaign to Move Parts of Oregon to Idaho
Oregonian conservatives whose political views align more closely with their neighbors in Idaho than with the liberals in Portland and Salem are pushing to adjust the states’ borders.
A campaign dubbed “Move Oregon’s Border” proposes a merging that would grant Idaho more than 75% of Oregon’s current land, some 870,000 residents, and access to the ocean.
“Imagine for a moment Idaho’s western border stretching to the Pacific Ocean,” writes Elgin resident Grant Darrow. “The political diversity in this state is becoming unpalatable…rural Oregonians in general and eastern Oregonians, in particular, are growing increasingly dismayed by the manner in which Oregon’s legislature and Oregon’s urban dwellers have marginalized their values, demonized their lifestyle, villainized their resource-based livelihoods, and classified them as second-class citizens at best.”
More than half of Oregon’s population lives in the Portland area and has little interaction with the ranchers and loggers living in remote areas of the state who feel like they are forced to comply with rules and regulations that make no sense.
“Most of us in rural Oregon realize that whatever the Portland/Willamette Valley area wants, they get,” argues Michael McCarter, leader of the Move Oregon’s Border movement. “Do we have the freedom to vote who we want to govern us? That’s the question.”
“This is not the Oregon I know,” laments Sandie Gilson, a supporter of the movement who takes issue with liberal objectives like legalized marijuana, banning diesel fuel, and restricting police budgets.
With demographic trends working against their favor and Democrats in the process of drawing new districts, residents like McCarter and Gilson will soon be even further underrepresented.
A ballot measure in favor of merging Oregon and Idaho has been approved in 8 of the 10 counties in which it was proposed, making it the most electorally successful secessionist movement in modern America.
Success, though unlikely, would require support from Oregon’s Democratic-controlled legislature, Idaho’s Republican-controlled legislature, and Congress.
Oregon has a long history of solving its problems through violence, however, and many fear civil war will break out if nothing changes.
“I know there’s some people that have talked about ‘If this continues on, people are going to pick up their guns,’” says McCarter. “Rural people – their values, the way they live, their faith, their freedom – are closely tied to what Idaho is, so why not adjust the border? Just let us go peacefully.”
McCarter has a point here. Adjusting a state border is much easier than creating a new state or country – and there’s nothing quite so American as choosing your own government.
“If it gives people a place to put our energy, our frustration – I’m for it,” says Nancy Cronin. “This is an avenue for folks instead of doing something illegal.”
In the words of Ben Holloway, owner of a gun shop in remote Harney County, a revolution in Oregon is unavoidable:
“That’s the rise and fall of every civilization in history,” says Holloway. “The United States has been at the top for a long time. We’re where Rome was when Rome was at its peak, and eventually everything comes crumbling down. It will be pretty much just like the Civil War…It will be absolutely horrible and terrifying and frightening. A lot of people dying for no reason. But eventually they’re going to push a group far enough that they have no other recourse, in their mind.”
Editor’s note: Some food for thought, this is pretty close to the logic that Russia is using against Ukraine. Logic equivalence, but not moral equivalence.
Modern America’s Most Successful Secessionist Movement
Snickerdoodle and Secession in Eastern Oregon
Their Own Private Idaho: Five Oregon Counties Back a Plan to Secede