It occurs to me that as a Pennsylvanian, it really shouldn’t matter to me too much if Oregon splits in half, with the eastern portion joining Idaho. There’s a general interest I have in the welfare of all people, and I think the more Americans live in places that respect their civil and reproductive rights the better, but I sympathize with conservative-minded Oregonians who don’t want to be politically dominated by coastal liberals.
The problem is that due to our stupid Electoral College system, I would be directly impacted by this change. A larger Idaho would have more Electoral College votes and a smaller Oregon would have fewer. This would make it marginally easier for a Republican to win the presidency even without a single voter changing their preference. It’s possible that the outcome of a close election could hinge on the difference. So, even though I could theoretically be persuaded that an expanded Idaho would create more cohesive political units, I have to oppose it for selfish reasons.
I’d far prefer to oppose it solely for high-minded reasons, like my concern for vulnerable communities, women’s reproductive freedom and the health of the environment. This is just another example of why we should scrap the Electoral College.
The change isn’t likely to happen anytime soon, but it’s not out of the question.
A grassroots movement to redraw Oregon’s border is gaining traction after voters in 11 rural, conservative counties approved measures this year that would start the process of seceding from the blue state and joining Republican-dominated Idaho.
In Oregon’s Wallowa County, just eight votes separated those who support the Greater Idaho movement from those who oppose it last week, the county clerk said. Tuesday is the deadline to resubmit ballots that either did not have signatures or had signatures that did not match county records…
…The question posed to voters would not result in an immediate redrawing of the border; instead, it would initiate regular county meetings to discuss secession. Legislators in both states would have to agree on a formal plan to move the state border, which would then require the approval of Congress.
I should note that there’s a definite White Christian Nationalist flavor to the Greater Idaho movement even if advocates don’t always make that explicitly clear. It’s related to the preexisting State of Jefferson movement, a plan hatched in 1941 to carve a new state out of portions of California and Oregon. It also shares obvious cultural similarities with the American Redoubt movement, which is a White Christian survivalist cult focused on riding out the apocalypse in a geographical area encompassing Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming along with eastern parts of Oregon and Washington.
I have no interest in empowering these folks, so that’s another reason I don’t support splitting Oregon in two. But, in principle, I don’t think there’s anything sacrosanct about our country’s state borders. Just as House of Representatives districts are regularly redrawn to account for changes in population and to (in theory) create more coherent political units, we can periodically adjust populations between states. But we shouldn’t have to consider the presidential implications of such changes. Each case should considered on its own merits, and ideally should be decided with the consent of the people who live there.