You've heard of Idaho, the state famed for its penchant for potatoes, the home of Napoleon Dynamite, and its weird status as an enclave for white supremacist groups, however seems the state may soon strive to become greater than its bizarre and sometimes alarming reputation – literally. Earlier this week, representatives from a group named “Move Oregon’s Border For a Greater Idaho” stood before the state's lawmakers with a modest proposal – take over ¾ of neighboring state, Oregon, and eventually, southeast counties in Washington and northern counties in California, in what the movement's leader calls a “peaceful revolution,” expanding Idaho's state lines to the Pacific Ocean.
According to supporters of the movement, doing so would appeal to residents of rural Oregon, who “are dominated by liberal urban areas such as Portland, and would rather join conservative Idaho,” wrote local publication Oregon Live, noting that Portland would remain a part of the beaver state.
“There’s a longtime cultural divide as big as the Grand Canyon between northwest Oregon and rural Oregon, and it’s getting larger,” the group's president, Mike McCarter told the state's house and senate on Monday.
“Values of faith, family, independence. That’s what we’re about,” Mark Simmons, an Oregon rancher and former speaker of the state's House of Representatives added. “We don’t need the state breathing down our necks all the time, micromanaging our lives and trying to push us into a foreign way of living.”
Despite these assertions, the group has had an uphill battle in attempting to conjure support from Oregonians. Last November, Oregon's Union and Jefferson counties voted to join Idaho, with two other counties nixing the idea, although making for a tight race. “I want to thank all those who voted and those who got signatures [to put the measure on the ballot],” Mike McCarter told the publication at the time. “We’re a grass-roots movement. This is a beginning.”
Although five additional Oregon counties are set to vote on the measure next month, even if the idea “passes” among residents, it may not change much. “The county votes carry no weight, but are intended to potentially sway lawmakers to ultimately approve the plan,” the outlet noted.
However, lawmakers still had questions, including Rep. Ben Adams, a Republican who said he was interested but was concerned about how Oregon would react to an Idahoan invasion. “How is it being received right now by the state of Oregon?” the lawmaker inquired. “How hard would they be fighting to make it not happen? Most states don’t like to lose their resources to their neighbors.”
Although McCarter said he hadn't spoken to any of the neighboring state's lawmakers, he believes those in favor of the measure will eventually speak out. “I believe that there are a lot of people standing on the sidelines watching this particular issue," he explained. “Is there any traction to it? Is there anything behind it?”
Even so, several specifics must be ironed out in creating such a measure. “There are a lot of details, a lot of details,” Simmons noted, as lawmakers broached the states' respective policy differences, including marijuana legalization and minimum wage requirements. “And before we can even begin to discuss the details, we have got to see a significant majority of counties in Oregon stepping up to support it.”