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America’s Dumbest Political Movement

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The idiot Oregon rednecks tried to secede and join Idaho has gotten a bunch of play all of a sudden, first with a CNN piece and now from the Times. A quick overview from the latter for those of you not paying attention to the brilliance of right-wing Oregonians from Roseburg to Burns:

Corey Cook still holds a fondness for her days living in Portland, where the downtown pubs and riverfront cherry blossoms made her proud to call the Rose City home during her 20s.

But as she started growing wary of the metro area’s congestion and liberal politics, she moved to the suburbs, then the exurbs, before heading east, eventually escaping Portland’s sphere of influence on the other side of the Cascade Mountains in 2017. But even here, where she now runs a Christian camp amid the foothill pines overlooking the Grande Ronde Valley, she cannot help but notice how the values of western Oregon are held over the eastern part of the state by way of laws making guns less accessible and abortions more accessible.

Unwilling to move east into Idaho, farther from her family, Ms. Cook, 52, now wonders if redrawing the state maps could instead bring Idaho’s values to her.

“Oregon is not a unified state to me anymore,” she said. “To say that I’m an Oregonian is a geographic truth, but it doesn’t really have meaning to me the way that it did before I lived in eastern Oregon.”

The broad sense of estrangement felt across rural Oregon has led conservatives in recent years to pursue a scrupulous strategy to open a theoretical escape hatch, gathering thousands of signatures for a series of ballot measures that have now passed in 11 counties. Those measures require regular meetings to discuss the idea of secession. In those places, including Union County, Ms. Cook’s new home, county commissioners in rooms adorned by Oregon flags and maps are now obligated to talk about whether it would one day make sense to be part of Idaho.

This is dumb on about 298 levels, including that they have no legal mechanism for making it happen. Oregon will….just not do it. And neither will the federal government. But on top of that, how much are Oregonians paying no sales tax and loving that going to embrace Idaho’s 7 percent sales tax? How much are they going to embrace less money for their roads? The end of Oregon’s superior medical care program? But of course they are not thinking of any of this. They just hate the libs and would prefer the guidance of such legends of modern politics as Raul Labrador.

But what this is really about is the decline of natural resource politics. That’s been the driver of this anger since the 1970s. Yes, there are other issues–certainly race, social issues, abortion rights, and Portland’s tolerance of homelessness (which I want to be clear is a very real problem, and not because of housing prices but because the streets of downtown are filled with heroin addicts and people extremely off their meds and screaming or shitting or doing whatever–and I saw all of this in one 30 minute walk there recently; it’s not good. Housing prices may well be contributing to this, but it’s not the driver of this kind of homelessness being in this place.). But the real core is that they were brought up with the idea that their way of life was The Way Things Should Be. This was the pioneer heritage. Timber, cattle, fishing, sheep, whatever–productive turning of the natural world into wealth for the family farm is the idealized world. And that’s mostly gone. The trees have more value standing and the fish have more value swimming than they do being harvested. The tourism economy is huge. And it infuriates these people.

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