This week, voters in five rural Oregon counties — Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur and Sherman — approved ballot measures to advance efforts to have these jurisdictions leave Oregon and become part of Idaho. The five counties join two others — Jefferson and Union — that already had approved such measures.
The seven counties are sparsely populated. However, they make up three-quarters of the state in terms of area, according to this report.
The counties in question are all conservative. The residents’ desire to leave Oregon stems from disgust with the left-wing policies the state’s liberals want to impose on them. It’s entirely understandable.
It won’t happen, though. The ballot measures don’t even call for secession. They merely call on lawmakers to consider the idea.
The Washington Post observes that for the departure from Oregon to occur, lawmakers in Oregon and Idaho would have to enact bills to redefine the states’ boundaries and redistrict their legislatures. They likely would also have to muster the votes needed to override a veto from the respective governors. Finally, Congress would have to sign off on the move.
The odds against all of this happening seem overwhelming.
However, the fact that residents of seven counties want out of Oregon has significance. It signifies that, increasingly, conservatives don’t want to co-exist with liberals — not in the same political entity, anyway. And I believe the feeling is mutual.
Indeed, the Oregon counties aren’t alone in wanting to secede. Counties in California have voiced support for establishing the State of Jefferson. And a bill introduced in Minnesota proposes that counties in that state be allowed to request “exclusion” from Minnesota — possibly to join South Dakota.
If conservatives and liberals don’t want to co-exist in the same states, it’s fair to ask whether they will want to co-exist in the same country. After all, the ability of the U.S. government to affect how we live seems to be increasing at the expense of the ability of states to do so.
State Sen. Melissa Wintrow, an Idaho Democrat from Boise complained that the “secession” vote is not the right move for a country trying to heal its political wounds. But where is the evidence that we are trying to heal those “wounds”? What have the Democrats who now run Washington done by way of healing?
The cliché-ridden Idaho Dem continued:
Folks are digging in, in different camps, and that’s not how to live a life. It’s time for us to take a deep breath, be honest and realistic about our history and where we’re going to go together.
But maybe that’s what the conservative Oregon counties have done. Maybe they took a deep breath and decided they honestly want to go to Idaho, together.