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Eastern Oregon pushes to join Idaho for a better match with rural values

For decades now, there have been proposals to split the state of Washington in half and create a new state. But down in Oregon, rather than form a new state, the more conservative part of the state on the eastern side wants to join Idaho.

It’s called the Greater Idaho movement, and one of the people behind it is Mike McCarter. He really thinks this idea has potential.

“Even our particular process here, people look at it and think, ‘well, that can never happen.’ But we look at it in such a way that our traditional values are being trumped on out of our Oregon legislature. Rural Oregon is ignored, for the most part,” McCarter told KIRO Radio’s Dori Monson Show. “… And the people are speaking out, county by county, saying, ‘yes, we want to start looking into the possibility of readjusting the border,’ not creating a new state, just move the border.”

Borderlines, McCarter says, are not cast in stone and can be negotiated and moved.

“So that’s our proposal is to say, OK, what would it look like if we moved the border to the east side of the Cascades,” he said.

To make this happen, McCarter says it requires an agreement between the Oregon and Idaho Legislatures. They come up with a compact or an agreement on how this would take place, and then that goes to the U.S. Congress for approval.

“But … because we’re not adding any new senators, especially conservative senators, we’re just changing the borderline, we see no reason why U.S. Congress would not approve that,” he said.

This proposal comes not necessarily as a political situation, but more of a value situation.

“This is urban values versus rural values,” McCarter said. “And the rural values that we have are faith, family, freedom, independence. We’re tied to our land, we’re tied to our communities in rural Oregon, our schools, and … we don’t want to pick up and move, but if we have the right to elect those who represent us, do we have the right to elect who governs us? Whether it’s Idaho or Oregon.”

“So it’s not just saying, OK, we’re going to secede from Oregon and we’re going to try to go it on our own. No, we’re just shifting the governments because rural Idaho and Idahoans per se match up very well with our values in rural Oregon,” he added. “So that’s the movement.”

Ready for a summer vacation on the Idaho Coast?

The Greater Idaho movement has projected the borders along the Deschutes River and all the way over to southern Oregon coast. While there are ideas of an even larger Idaho that may include part of Washington or California, McCarter says they have to focus on the initial movement first.

“This is a movement for rural Oregon to become part of Idaho,” he said.

“The combination of rural Oregon and Idaho would make Idaho the third largest state in the union, behind Alaska and Texas,” McCarter said. “There’s plenty of room. Come on down! There’s not a lot of people down in the Idaho area. So 860,000 Oregonians would become Idahoans without one single person moving into the existing Idaho.”

Listen to the Dori Monson Show weekday afternoons from noon – 3 p.m. on KIRO Radio, 97.3 FM. Subscribe to the podcast here.

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