by WorldTribune Staff, May 20, 2021
The drive by rural Oregonians to abandon urbanite progressive-dominated Oregon and help construct a Greater Idaho went five-for-five at the ballot box on May 18.
“Voters in Sherman, Lake, Grant, Baker and Malheur counties all voted for ballot measures that would lead to them becoming Idahoans,” The Idaho Statesman reports. “People in Union and Jefferson counties had already voted in favor during the November election.”
“The vote is only the first step of the ‘Greater Idaho’ project, which would allow some Oregon counties to join a state that advocates say more closely aligns with their political preferences,” the paper notes:
Proponents say the “swaths of conservative, pro-Trump, anti-tax voters” in rural parts of Oregon have more in common with Idaho, which they want to claim as their own state. Oregon, which currently has two Democratic senators in the U.S. Senate, has voted blue in presidential elections since 1988, while Idaho, with two Republican U.S. senators, has voted red in presidential contests since 1968.
“This election proves that rural Oregon wants out of Oregon,” Mike McCarter, president of Citizens for Greater Idaho, declared in a statement, The Statesman reported. “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 movement, focused on Oregon’s eastern and southern counties, may at one time have seemed far-fetched. But that was before it started rolling up one victory after another at the polls.
McCarter appeared before an Idaho Legislature committee hearing on April 12. “In addition to 22 of Oregon’s 36 counties, Greater Idaho would also include parts of California and Washington state,” Courthouse News reported. “McCarter said the motivation behind the plan is freedom from rules meted out by ‘Willamette Valley Democrats.’”
The Willamette Valley, known as Oregon’s Wine Country, is home to the capital city of Salem and oversized college town Eugene.
“The people want to be independent of an overreaching state government and given the opportunity to raise their families the way they want,” McCarter told Idaho elected officials. “The opportunity to provide an income off their land. To start or operate profitable businesses. Enjoy life without being lorded over.”
The Citizens for Greater Idaho website argues that the growing divide between rural conservative and coastal progressive Oregonians is simply evidence that the state’s current geographical configuration no longer serves the best interests of the people caught inside it:
If the United States were governed as a single state, we wouldn’t have the opportunity for state governance to vary according to the culture of a local area. The purpose of having state lines is to allow this variance. The Oregon/Idaho border was established 161 years ago and is now outdated. It makes no sense in its current location because it doesn’t match the location of the cultural divide in Oregon. The Oregon/Washington border was updated in 1958. It’s time to move other borders.
“Several prominent elected officials in Idaho, including Gov. Brad Little, have expressed support for the movement,” The Oregonian wrote in its coverage on the ballot measure results.
However, Oregon’s largest daily newspaper also attempted to pour a bit of cold water on the evening’s significance.
“Moving Oregon counties into Idaho remains a long shot, for no matter how many Oregon counties say they want to be part of Idaho, the two state legislatures – and ultimately the U.S. Congress – would have to give their approval,” the paper’s account concluded.