These far-right secessionists want rural Oregon to become part of Idaho: report

These far-right secessionists want rural Oregon to become part of Idaho: report
A farm in Oregon in 2013, Wikimedia Commons

The term “secessionist” is often used in connection with far-right extremists who want to leave the United States altogether. But journalist Antonia Hitchens, in an article published by The Atlantic on December 23, takes a look at a different type of secessionist movement on the right: residents of rural parts of Oregon who want their areas to leave Oregon but remain in the U.S. and become part of neighboring Idaho.

Politically, Oregon and Idaho are two very different states. Idaho is deeply Republican; former President Donald Trump won the state by 30% in 2020. But Oregon, on the other hand, is a state that hasn’t gone Republican in a presidential election since President Ronald Reagan’s landslide victory over Democrat Walter Mondale in 1984.

Even the bluest states, however, have their red areas. And as Hitchens explains in her article, the Greater Idaho movement is comprised of people in rural parts of Oregon who identify with Idaho residents rather than liberals in Portland.

One Greater Idaho activist in Eastern Oregon is Mike McCarter, who told The Atlantic, “We don’t care to move, because we’re tied to our land here. So, why not just allow us to be governed by another state?”

Sandie Gilson, another Greater Idaho activist in rural Oregon, told The Atlantic, “This is not the Oregon I know…. We were farmers and ranchers and loggers. None of those values are left.”

Mike Slinkard, also a Greater Idaho supporter, told The Atlantic, “Idaho fits with what I feel. Oregon left us out in the cold. We don’t exist.”

Hitchens, however, is skeptical about the chances of those areas ever separating from Oregon and joining Idaho.

Hitchens explains, “It’s easy to scoff at the idea of honoring the proposed borders of ‘Greater Idaho,’ not least because it’s almost inconceivable that both Idaho’s and Oregon’s legislatures would sign off on the proposal and send it to Congress for the necessary approval…. The Greater Idaho proposal would grant Idaho more than three-quarters of Oregon’s land, more than 870,000 of its residents, and access to the ocean; most specifics beyond this have yet to be envisioned.”

Some secessionists in rural parts of Eastern Oregon would like to form a new state, but the Greater Idaho movement has no problem with the way Idaho is run and wants to become part of it.

“The Greater Idaho solution appeals in part because of its political pragmatism,” Hitchens writes. “Moving a border is hard, but it’s easier than creating a new state.”

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