On the way to Idaho with a rock, a cat & a windmill
The tangled web otherwise known as the state’s redistricting process wove its way toward Jackson County this past week, as a House committee turned its attention to the 2nd Congressional District.
The virtual legislative session, according to a report from the weekly Blue Mountain Eagle out of John Day, was hampered by both troublesome technology and the uncertainty over deadlines for receiving the Census data necessary to redraw Oregon’s map if, as expected, the state is granted another congressional seat.
If that wasn’t enough to stump the band of legislators from making progress, a Wallowa County resident who had signed up to testify left them flummoxed, stupefied and perplexed with a borderline question about well, border lines.
Why, the caller groused, had Wallowa County been left off the map of Greater Idaho?
The stunned silence in the hearing was finally broken with the only possible response:
(Although that might be paraphrasing.)
While the question lingered in cyberspace (Wallowa indeed was included in the mythical state of mind), there was much rejoicing elsewhere for Greater Idaho, like March Madness, was back.
Unlike the NCAA basketball tournaments, however, Greater Idaho — the geographic lovechild of Schrodinger, Quixote, and Sisyphus — had never really dribbled away.
For those who don’t recall, it was little over a year ago that we first brought you the Quixotic, Sisyphean and Schrodingerial effort to pack up all or parts of 23 Oregon counties (including Jackson) — plus, eventually, seven in northern California and three in southeast Washington — and move them to Idaho.
Well, not move them, exactly. Since most of the people living in said counties no doubt love their homes, the “Move Oregon’s Border” movement (T-shirts, hats and bumper stickers available online) are simply asking that these areas become part of Idaho — like Cousin Oliver just became part of The Brady Bunch, despite not being born there.
The reason behind this has to do with a different sort of divide politics.
The folks behind Greater Idaho (at least those in Oregon) are seeing red and feeling blue about their longstanding fight against the unbeatable foe — Democratic control of state government.
“Oregon passes laws that kill industries in eastern, central, and southern Oregon,” reads the mission statement at greateridaho.org. “They don’t protect us from rioters, forest arsonists, or school curricula that teach kids to hate Americans and Americanism. And they pass laws that violate our sacred conscience.”
The movement has taken the next logical step in its Quix oh, you know march to Americanism by forming (what else?) a “Citizens for Greater Idaho” political action committee, which will focus on issues in “Idaho, Oregon and beyond.”
Now, I know what you’re thinking: When does Ashland start its own petition drive to pack up and move back (figuratively, at least) to what would remain of Oregon?
Okay, maybe that’s what I was thinking. You might have a more basic question on your mind.
Such as: “Duh what?”
(Now, here comes the mundane logistical part pointing out the windmills, rocks and boxed cats standing in the way of sacred conscientiousness.)
Five of the 23 Oregon counties have collected enough signatures to put a ballot measure before their voters. In case you’re wondering, Jackson County — according to the latest figures on the Greater Idaho website — is furthest away from reaching that goal.
The Board of Commissioners in Jefferson County (which would have to change its name, since there’s already a Jefferson County in Idaho) took the issue up this past week as mandated by a passed ballot measure there.
“The value of the United States having multiple states instead of just one big state,” the commissioners were told by one proponent in favor of making Idaho one big(ger) state, “is that it allows differentiation, different laws in different states.”
As opposed to what we have currently ... where all laws are the same in every state.
For this thought-exercise, however, let’s say every Oregon county involved bring this to a vote and the people chant “Hell, yes, we will go!”
It would then go to the Oregon Legislature — remember those folks, the ones mired in the redistricting process? — for approval. And it’s the Democrats control of the Statehouse that spurred the desire to stay home but leave the state in the first place.
Why would Democrats possibly go along with that?
Well, as the 239 followers of the Move Oregon’s Border twitter feed know, the state’s blue-bloods would benefit as well.
“Annoyed by rural legislators walking out of legislative session today?,” asks a Feb. 25 tweet. “If Oregon lets rural counties join Idaho, then it won’t have to worry about this ever again. Republicans wouldn’t have the numbers to deny quorum.”
Easy peasy, ipso facto, presto change-o!
So now, Oregon’s on board and, clearly, Idaho would rubber-stamp such an influx of like-minded folks — who, when the going gets tough, want to get going somewhere else — although, despite concepts for potential flags (not yet for sale) on the movement’s Twitter feed, Idaho Gov. Brad Little has said that any embiggened Idaho would still be called “Idaho.”
As long as that’s not a deal-breaker for the border-breakers, this would eventually find itself in the lap of the United States Congress — which, by that time, might have delivered Census data to Oregon.
As thought-exercises go, Greater Oregon’s a no-brainer.
Mail Tribune news editor Robert Galvin is sealed in a box at firstname.lastname@example.org