Greater Idaho and the Ugly History of Northwest Secession Movements

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tags: far right, White Supremacy, Pacific Northwest

In a time of pandemic, political discontent is a preexisting condition. A recent example: Ammon Bundy, who headed the 2016 takeover of the Malheur Wildlife Refuge in Oregon, has been holding meetings in Idaho to push back against the state’s “stay at home” order to limit the spread of COVID-19. The New York Times calls it a “Liberty rebellion” against coronavirus restrictions; Idaho medical professionals are aghast.

It shouldn’t be a surprise, though. The fault lines in the Northwest are always active, and help explain perennial efforts to redraw the region’s map to accommodate political and cultural homogeneity. The Cascadia independence movement, the potential state of Liberty carved from Eastern Washington and occasional speculation about the “ghost” state of Jefferson in southern Oregon and northern California are examples of such efforts.

Could this pandemic rebellion provide impetus for the latest concept to gain attention? Greater Idaho, an idea being embraced in some parts of Oregon, would see southern and eastern Oregon and northeastern California secede from their respective states to join — and supersize — the state of Idaho. At least three Oregon counties, Douglas, Josephine and Umatilla, are working on petitions to advance the Greater Idaho cause.

Mike McCarter is a spokesman for Move Oregon’s Border, a group pushing the effort. He told Oregon Public Radio that Greater Idaho is “a movement to try to maintain our rural values.” The core lament from McCarter and others is that Oregon is increasingly ruled by liberal urban areas; rural Oregon, Greater Idaho supporters argue, needs to hook up with the more simpatico leadership in Idaho, where Republicans dominate state politics. Under the new map, Portland, Salem and Eugene would stay behind in Oregon while Medford, Oregon, and Redding, California, would become part of the land of “famous potatoes,” and perhaps of the coronavirus’ militant violators of social isolation.

Read entire article at Crosscut

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