A push to include a referendum that would approve a move by several eastern Oregon counties to Idaho is underway and may be gaining some traction.
Although unlikely to succeed, the effort to have a vote on the issue is proof of great unhappiness in the rural parts of the state that are becoming more resentful of the far-left policies being adopted in Salem. The state’s largest city, Portland, is a far-left bastion and dominates politics in the state.
We see similar movements in California and Washington, where largely rural people are rebelling against what they see are radical cultural changes being forced on them that they don’t want.
“We’re picking up momentum,” McCarter says. “It takes a lot of oomph to get something like this started. I call it a peaceful revolution.”
The group wants to have initiatives on the ballot of every eastern Oregon county this fall.
“Our approach is to go county by county rather than a state initiative,” McCarter adds. “We want people [in the counties that would move to Idaho] to chime in and say, ‘Yes, we want this.’ It takes more work to go county by county, but it informs the public more.”
In Oregon, two counties have already given the nod for a referendum to be included on the November ballot that would separate them from the state of Oregon. But even if they are successful and the ballot proposal succeeds, they would still need the permission of the state and the U.S. Congress for their dream to become a reality.
And there are other issues as well.
“It’s a lifestyle/values judgment between urban and rural more than anything else,” he insists. He says many residents of rural Oregon “aren’t as conservative as me” but still see the benefits of being part of a more rural-minded state like Idaho.
He and Gottschalk acknowledge there are a lot of questions eastern-Oregon voters would need to chew on, such as schools funding (Oregon spends more per student than Idaho) and the advantages/drawbacks of a sales tax (Idaho has one, Oregon doesn’t) and an estate tax (Oregon has one, Idaho doesn’t).
He admits the Oregon counties would have to accept that they’d likely receive fewer services from the state if they jumped to Idaho. But this also could be one of the reasons Oregon might be willing to let them go.
Like many rural areas, eastern Oregon has been hurting to the point where more people than in urban areas have to go on public assistance to live. This gives an incentive to Salem to allow the wayward children to depart in peace.
But what happens to people in those counties who like Oregon and want to stay? Unless the vote is overwhelming for secession, there’s going to be trouble.
To those who pooh-pooh the idea as crazy, they said the same thing in the late 1760s when some crazy colonists got it in their heads they could actually secede from England.
In America, anything is possible.