The “liberal versus conservative” political polarization has been on a massive increase over the last three decades in the United States. Where there used to be dispassionate policy discussions, debate and often some sort of compromise over policy decisions based in ideological theories, now, people of differing political viewpoints appear to be more and more “siloed” with some disturbing results. Among these is the increasing conviction that America is headed for a Second Civil War.
California is so solidly Democrat that Republican candidates do not even appear on some ballots in the state. The only differences there are still stuck solidly within the presently held ideology of ultra-liberal, ranging from out-and-out socialism to something marginally less “liberal” than points like abortion anytime, confiscatory taxes on the top earners, legalized drugs… One may note that it seems like the options are simply either “bad” or “catastrophically bad.” While California has a large population of conservatives, they are so outnumbered by city liberals that their voices are effectively silenced.
One group has an idea to change this:
Why not allow conservative counties in Oregon, Washington and California, to join Idaho, a conservative state?
The reasoning for this idea is presented on the website www.greateridaho.org (slight edits for clarity):
…This proposal presents options for Oregon and California to move their borders to put conservative counties on the other side of their borders to make Idaho bigger.
A January 2019 [Illinois] poll of those categorized as “liberal” or “very liberal”, living in the blue part of [that] state showed that showed that 2/3 were willing to let low-income Trump-voting counties in their state become a part of another state. Although this was an Illinois poll, we hope that a poll of Oregon and California would yield similar results. Most legislators in the majority party in these states are more concerned about primary elections than general elections because they have safe seats, so it is liberal opinion that they follow…
The Democratic Party has a supermajority in the legislatures of Oregon and California, and the governors are Democrats. These legislatures can be expected to be in favor of strengthening the position of their party in their state by letting Trump-voting counties leave. They should be in favor of improving their state finances by allowing the departure of counties that don’t pay their share of income and sales taxes because of lower incomes.
After the border change, the remainder of Oregon (northwestern Oregon) would have an annual per capita personal income (2017 BEA) $1869 higher than Oregon’s is. This would allow Oregon taxes to be decreased so that the average Oregon wage earner would save $341 in taxes annually, assuming a marginal tax rate of 11% (the typical Oregonian earner is in the 9% state income tax bracket, but also pays other taxes). The territory that we propose removing from Oregon has only 21% of the population of Oregon.
After the border change, the remainder of California (excluding northernmost California) would have an annual per capita personal income (2017 BEA) $148 higher than California’s is now. Thiswould allow California taxes to be decreased so that the average California wage earner would save $29 in taxes annually, assuming a marginal tax rate of 11.8% (the typical California earner is in the 9.3% state income tax bracket, but also pays other taxes). This improvement is large considering that California would only lose 0.9% of its population (less than one percent).
Tongue-in-cheek sarcasm or great planning? You decide.
One thing can be said: The proponents of this idea know that much of politics in the US is indeed a shell-game regarding money. Cleverly, the use of tax savings for the liberal states through the secession of their conservative counties is counted as a win-win for everyone.
How does Idaho win if it is taking on relatively poor counties?
There are benefits both immediate and long term. The immediate benefit is representation for Trump-supporting and otherwise conservative counties that has not been available lately in these super-polarized, super Democrat states. We read, hear and see the stories of the disaster that has become California – the feckless government and law enforcement agencies, political correctness placed as policy, thereby advancing drug-use, homelessness and all sorts of crime, and amazing levels of arrogance and condescension toward the conservative populations (which largely include agricultural concerns – spelled F-O-O-D)…
But the benefits are also long term, and the plan is very strategic. Read here:
1) Financial: This proposal makes the tax base of Idaho broader by increasing the land area of the state and increasing the population by 71%. If mining in one area declines, it may be increasing in another area.
The economy of southern/eastern Oregon and northernmost California would improve very dramatically under Idaho law, regulations, and courts. These areas are mountains and arid highlands, just like Idaho. Idaho law and governmental focus is suitable to mining, logging, and agriculture, and it is business-friendly. As the economy improves, incomes and employment would increase, so that these areas would pay more than their share of Greater Idaho’s tax burden.
This proposal would bring thousands of jobs to Idaho’s capitol city, and to the locations of Idaho’s public universities and colleges. The state government would gain economies of scale, as the population would increase by 71% to 2.9 million, making it almost half the population of the average US state. The Idaho public university system would gain the Oregon Institute of Technology – Klamath Falls, Eastern Oregon University, and Southern Oregon University.
Coal and natural gas industries in the Rocky Mountains have an incentive to support this movement because state laws in Oregon, Washington, and California prevent the construction of a coal/natural gas port needed for export to Asia.
If Idaho’s legislature is unconvinced, county governments in Oregon & California could offer to pay Idaho for the privilege of joining the state.
2) Political: 80% of Idaho state legislators are Republican. The Trump vote of Greater Idaho would have been 60.3%, whereas Idaho only gave Trump 59.3%.
Idaho would have the satisfaction of freeing 1.2 million people from blue state law.
The Idaho Legislature currently has only 70 representatives and 35 senators. This number could be expanded so that the districts in Idaho would not need to be redrawn.
And, here is the biggest piece, and probably the driver of the whole idea:
3) Sovereignty: Idaho would no longer be a land-locked state, which could allow it to gain more political autonomy in the future. The increase in population from the aforementioned counties would make Idaho more self-sufficient.
A recent Reuters poll shows that one third of Americans expect civil war in America within the next five years. No one knows the future, but everyone knows that political structures don’t last forever. Indeed, only three empires or countries in history have managed to maintain the allegiance of more people than the USA has.
It is unlikely that red states and blue states would choose to remain in the same federation after a crisis. It is possible that blue states and red states of America will part ways to provide apeaceful end to the culture wars. In this case, Idaho’s access to the Pacific via Columbia River locks would be dependent on good relations with a foreign country. This imperils the shipment of Idaho’s wheat crop and many other bulk products, reducing the independence of action of the state. Having ports on the Pacific would reduce the cost of such a crisis.
Texas may secede from the Union. A 2016 Reuters poll showed that more Texans were in favor of secession than opposed to secession. If Texas secedes, the USA will never have another conservative president. On the other hand, if Texas does not secede, federal law will continue to force Texas to accept immigration that will turn it into a blue state within a decade. Either way, the USA will never have another conservative president after Trump. Texas’ poll is analyzed here: www.facebook.com/notes/peaceful-red-state-secession/unreported-2017-reuters-poll- shows-states-ready-to-secede/391466311426359
Giving Idaho ports on the Pacific (particularly Reedsport, Coos Bay, and Crescent City) gives Idaho the option of self-determination if independence becomes expedient in the future. These ports could be deepened, but Coos Bay already has a MLLW (mean lower low water) depth of 37 feet and can handle ships 500 feet in length. Reedsport has a MLLW depth of 15 feet. Also, the locks on the Columbia River up to Lewiston, Idaho have a minimum depth of 15 feet.
Utah and other states could join Idaho in a federation if Idaho secedes first. If Idaho chooses, it could possibly accept all red states into a new federation, as they are all contiguous (except Alaska).
Idaho autonomy is bolstered by the fact that it gets much of its power from hydropower, which is immune to embargo. It is also self-sufficient in food production. It has a border with another country. Of course, Idaho would continue to trade with the US after secession.
The movement is gaining media coverage, though the commonly held opinion is “never gonna happen.” The movement is also growing. A number of media outlets have been reporting on this story, and not just Fox News. CBS and NBC affiliates are also following the story, with CBS noting this:
Mike McCarter, chief petitioner of the secession effort, has noted though that the movement is in its infancy and would take years to accomplish, even if successful. The process for counties to leave Oregon include passing a ballot initiative, getting approval from the state legislature — currently controlled by Democrats — and then also getting Idaho to pass legislation approving new counties into the state. McCarter said the movement ultimately is about signaling the unhappiness rural conservatives in Oregon have with the state legislature.
The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of The Duran.