A conservative movement it taking root in Oregon. There is a proposed secessionist movement. This is not a secession away from another country to independence. This isn’t even residents seceding to form a separate state. This consists of residents wanting to join another state.
Oregon is a state known for things like dense, temperate forests, rain, Portland, ultraliberal politics, soccer, cycling, so many things that are quintescentially the Pacific Northwest. In Oregon, however, there is a growing secessionist movement. Many within Oregon want to separate from Oregon and join the nearby state of Idaho. Why? There are people in Oregon who are not happy with the policies and liberal political in Oregon. The Greater Idaho Movement as it is known. Northeast California is also trying to be part of it.
Wait a minute?
Oregonians wanting to join a relatively more conservative state?
There is an Oregon represented by Portlandia. And then there is an Oregon many people do not know about. And this can be best represented by geography.
Oregon is a state of rugged coastline and inlets, temperate forests, valleys, especially the large Willamette Valley, where Portland, Salem, and Eugene are located, and then there are deserts, volcanoes, high mountains, semiarid grasslands. The Oregon of deserts and semiarid regions, that is the Oregon very few people think about.
More about Oregon’s geography in this video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JLNZvpOj24A
And it is that Oregon, the Oregon away from the Willamette Valley, that wants to become part of Greater Idaho. It is the Oregon that includes places like Medford, Ashland, Bend, Pendleton, Burns, Umatilla, Hermiston, Baker City, Nyssa,etc. The political climate of this Oregon is much more conservative. These areas are share a political temperament similar to Idaho. These counties often vote Republican. There are those who feel that the government in Oregon’s capital, Salem, doesn’t represent or understand their needs. There are those who feel that the relatively liberal political climate of Oregon is being driven by the needs and interested of those living in the more heavily urbanized areas in the Willamette Valley. For this reason, there are many residents living in southern and eastern Oregon who want to join the state of Idaho.
The political and cultural divides go along with the geographic divides. Of Oregon’s 4 million residents, close to 3 million live in the Willamette Valley. Of that, 2 million live in the Portland metropolitan area. A lion’s share of the political power for Oregon is here. Other cities include Eugene and Corvallis, which are both cities heavily influenced by their universities. Oregon State University is in Corvallis and University of Oregon is in Eugene.
The way Oregon really is, geography has helped shape it. There is northwest Oregon, where Astoria is located. This is a major fishing region. It was once known for its furs. Oregon is called the Beaver State for a reason. And then there is the Portland metropolitan area. Portland is Oregon’s largest window to the ocean. Portland has a port which is a direct route to the ocean. It is located where the Willamette and Columbia rivers meet. It is through Portland where things enter and exit, being located at the northernmost part of the Willamette River. Further down the Willamette Valley, a large river valley with a mild, wet climate, surrounded by Oregon’s Coast Ranges and the Cascade Mountains, citis such as Salem (Oregon’s capital), Eugene, Corvallis, and Springfield are located. There are smaller urban areas as well as some agricultural areas. With fertile soil and a mild climate, orchards flourish here. So do hazelnuts, and grapes for making wine. Most of Oregon’s population lives in this valley. A bulk of Oregon’s manufacturing and technology exports come from western Oregon, particularly from Portland. The tech economy is also prominent in Eugene, as it’s becoming Silicon Shire.
The lumber and fishing industries has historically been important for Oregon, and coastal Oregon. Oregon’s coastal regions have depended on those industries. Recently, tourism has contributed to the region’s economy, as limits have been placed on fishing and logging.
Further south, southern Oregon. This region is markedly more rugged, more mountainous, with some small river valleys wedged in the mountains. The valleys tend to have a drier climate, with more extremes in weather. There is more of a rain shadow effect because of the heavier mountainous influences. The population is markedly smaller here. Close to 565,000 people live in the region, smaller than the city of Portland. There is more ranching that takes place in this region. Wineries are abundant here.
East of the Cascades, Oregon gets much drier, resembling places such a Nevada and Idaho, states that Oregon borders. The elevations in central and eastern Oregon are higher. There are deserts here, particularly southeast Oregon. Semiarid and cold desert climates are common for this part of Oregon. In this region, ranching is the major agricultural activity. Winters are colder, summers are hotter. Some parts of eastern Oregon, logging was a major part of the economy. Wheat is grown in northeastern Oregon.
With the geographic differences, there are some cultural differences. Western Oregon, which comprises the Portland metropolitan area/Willamette Valley, and Oregon’s northern coast, this area is more in tune with the archetypal Pacific Northwest culture. More liberal, more progressive, more in common with Seattle/western Washington state. Southern and Eastern Oregon tend to take on more of the culture found in Idaho, Nevada, and the inland areas of northeast California. This areas tend to bear more resemblance to the old west culture.
As a state, Oregon leans liberal. Hilary Clinton won the state of Oregon with 1,002,106 votes. Of those votes, 650,660 came from 4 counties: Multnomah (where Portland is located), Washington, Lane, and Clackamas counties. Of these counties, 3 are part of the Portland metropolitan area. Lane County is the Eugene metropolitan area. Benton County (where Corvallis is located) had the 2nd highest percentage of voters choose Clinton (59%), second only to Multnomah County (73%). It is a divide between rural Oregon vs the cities in Oregon. It is also a regional divide.
Oregon is a tale of many different places. Politics vary within the state. So does the economy. To understand the Greater Idaho Movement, and Oregon’s role in it, geography is a major part of it.