Oregon Counties Push for Secession to Join Idaho

Written by Luke Williams.

Thirteen frustrated counties in Oregon have voted in favor of measures to start negotiations to secede from the state and join Idaho. This movement, driven by dissatisfaction with Oregon’s progressive policies, aims to relocate the state border 200 miles to the west, thus integrating these counties into Idaho. Crook County became the latest to approve the ‘Greater Idaho Measure’ following a vote on Tuesday.

Supporters of the Greater Idaho movement argue that eastern Oregonians feel alienated by the state’s policies, which they blame for high crime rates and ineffective governance. They believe joining Idaho would offer lower taxes and better representation. The movement’s website states, “The Oregon/Idaho line was established 163 years ago and is now outdated. It doesn’t match the location of the cultural divide in Oregon.”

The measure passed by 53 percent in Crook County, boosting the Greater Idaho campaign. However, this vote isn’t legally binding; it simply indicates residents’ support for informing state and federal representatives about their desire to negotiate the annexation.

Voices from the Movement

Greater Idaho Executive Director Matt McCaw emphasized the voters’ clear message for change. “The voters of eastern Oregon have spoken loudly and clearly about their desire to see border talks move forward,” he said. He urged the state’s leadership to discuss next steps towards changing governance for eastern Oregonians and to begin holding hearings on what a potential border change would look like.

President Mike McCarter added, “For the last three years, we’ve been going directly to voters and asking them what they want for their state government. What they’re telling us through these votes is that they want their leaders to move the border.” He stressed that in their system, the people are in charge, and it’s time for their leaders to follow through.

This movement is largely a reaction to Oregon’s controversial Measure 110, passed in 2021, which decriminalized drug possession. Measure 110 proved ineffective, with over 95 percent of tickets ignored and only 40 people calling the treatment hotline out of 4,000 citations. This led to an embarrassing U-turn by Oregon Governor Tina Kotek, who reversed the measure last month.

Broader Implications

The idea of secession isn’t unique to Oregon. Similar movements have emerged in other states. In Texas, a state senator introduced a bill last year to allow a vote on ‘Texit’. In Illinois, several counties have voted to move to another state, and parts of Colorado have expressed interest in joining Wyoming. The wealthy Austin enclave of Lost Creek saw 91 percent of residents vote to break away from the city during a May 4 election.

Nationally, Georgia Representative Marjorie Taylor-Greene has suggested that the U.S. might need a ‘divorce’ between blue and red states. These movements reflect growing dissatisfaction with state and federal governance and highlight the cultural and political divides within the country.

Our Take

The push by Oregon counties to join Idaho underscores deep cultural and political divisions. From a politically conservative viewpoint, these movements respond to progressive policies that many feel have failed to address key issues like crime and taxation. The desire to secede and join states with more aligned values reflects broader dissatisfaction with current state governance.

Oregon’s Measure 110, which aimed to decriminalize drug possession but resulted in widespread non-compliance and wasted taxpayer money, highlights the need for more effective policy solutions. The Greater Idaho movement calls for governance that respects rural communities’ values and needs, something many believe is lacking in Oregon’s political climate.

It’s crucial for lawmakers to listen to these voices and address the grievances driving secession efforts. Ignoring them deepens the divide and fosters further dissatisfaction. Addressing these concerns and striving for inclusive governance can lead to a more united and effective political landscape.

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