A Far Reach for Greater Idaho

An illustration of a roadside sign reading: Welcome to Greater Idaho
An illustration of a roadside sign reading: Welcome to Greater Idaho

On November 4, 2021, Oregon counties joined together in a vote to bend state lines westward —absorbing almost ⅔ of the state and a large portion of northern California into Idaho, believing the new borders will protect them from progressive Portland policies.

Harney county, from rural Eastern Oregon, voted overwhelmingly to approve the non-binding measure 13-18 that would allow the county to join the Greater Idaho Movement. The movement calls for Oregon state lines to bend westward, swallowing ⅔ of the state as well as a large portion of northern California to join Idaho. The movement’s website shares six subjective reasons why these Oregon counties should join the movement to redraw the state lines:

“American Values: Oregon will continue to violate more and more American values and American freedoms because normal rural Americans are outnumbered in Oregon. Not in Idaho.

Law and Order: Oregon refuses to protect citizens from criminals, rioters, wildfire arsonists, illegals, and the homeless, but then infringes your right to defend your family with firearms. Idaho enforces the law.

Low Tax: Idaho is the state with the 8th smallest tax burden, and Oregon ranks 33rd, according to https://taxfoundation.org/tax-freedom-day-2019. Combining all taxes together, including sales tax, the average Idahoan pays $1722 less in taxes per year than the average Oregonian. That’s averaging together every adult or child, employed, retired or unemployed. And cost of living is 39% higher in Oregon than in Idaho. Oregon tax rates will continue to go up due to a lack of willingness to control spending.

Safety: Idaho allows forests to be managed to prevent destruction of housing from huge wildfires.

Thriving Economy: Idaho has less regulation than any other state, leading to low unemployment and affordable housing. Idaho’s approach to regulation and taxation would allow our rural industries to revive and employ us again.

Representation: The ruling party in the Oregon Legislature doesn’t have a single representative from a rural district or from eastern or southern Oregon, except one Ashland representative. But our reps would be in the ruling party in Idaho, where our concerns and needs would be heard.”

Illustration of a potato headed politician with the caption "Try Greater Idaho, Idaho now free from Portland's progressive values."
Illustration of a potato headed politician with the caption “Try Greater Idaho, Idaho now free from Portland’s progressive values.”

Most Pacific Northwesterners have noticed the upsurge of American flags and flags in support of our infamous former president flying off the back of our conservative neighbors’ lifted trucks. Last year we saw them in droves mobbing through the city streets, spraying bear mace at citizens dressed in black, deeming anyone who challenged their frail egos and unstable values ANTIFA.

This year, you see them mobbing school district meetings, protesting school mask mandates, picking fights with teenagers over BLM and 2SLGBTQIA flags and now, demanding that we change our state lines in a measure attached to blatantly racist claims. I acknowledge that those who voted for this measure to pass aren’t all right wing extremists. I also want to acknowledge that not every single person who voted for our infamous former president were right-wing extremists, but hey, look how that ended up.

The most recent state line change was when North Carolina and South Carolina clarified their state lines after years of negotiations and surveying back in 2017. This only affected 19 homes, whereas the greater Idaho measure would affect thousands. While during the entirety of the United States history, maritime borders, territories, state lines and continent borders have shifted, swallowed and spat backp land based on human desire and greed. This would be the largest change in the country’s territorial evolution since 1959 when Hawaii was finally claimed as a state. We are still patiently awaiting Guam, Puerto Rico and about a dozen more island “territories” to be welcomed into statehood.

I know, you must be thinking, “why give this any attention? It’ll never pass.” Why I shed light on this absurd movement is because it reeks of racism and white privilege. These Oregonians demand for state borders to change to “protect them from illegals,” and from our houseless neighbors that are in need. They shift the blame for the consequences of American consumerism onto imaginary “wildfire arsonists.” Meanwhile we still have Puerto Ricans without resources because this country possesses the oldest territory in the modern world, but does not take accountability for its economy and its people.

There are much older, sensible and important movements to bring Guam, Puerto Rico, and all of our other US territories into statehood for the betterment of the people that this country should be taking accountability for. We should be taking accountability for our neighbors that are in need, not trying to separate ourselves even further.

I gotta say though, if Greater Idaho does get its way, good riddance, folks! I’ll be watching the show from here. Watching y’all devour each other’s values and beliefs, holding them hostage until they submit to yours. All in the name of the “land of the free.”

Illustrations by Aspen Crawford

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