Eastern Oregon is where the losers dropped out of the Oregon Trail


Isn’t it strange how rural voters don’t understand the concept of democracy? There’s the idea of making a decision based on the consensus of a majority of the citizens that conflicts with their belief that they should always get their way, in spite of the desires of the vast majority. And that’s why two Oregon counties voted to recommend that someone study the possibility that they maybe secede from the state and join Idaho. While I agree that the rights of minority citizens must be protected (do you think they’d see what I did there?), and that there’s power in forming coalitions with shared values, it’s still a really stupid idea.

The rich part of Oregon is the western side of the state, and especially the city of Portland. They want to cut themselves off from that — I guarantee you that those two counties receive greater benefit from the state of Oregon than they contribute — and join with a poorer state with less influence. Just more cows and sheep. But cows and sheep don’t vote, and neither does acreage, another concept that hasn’t yet sunk into the selfish conservative mind.

But then, I guess we should expect these kinds of contradictions and failings in a nation founded by wealthy white male landowners virtue signaling about freedom and equality and justice while arranging the laws to benefit slave owners, and setting up a powerful Senate that favored large empty states with low populations over dense states with many people. Oregon ranchers just want to follow those poisonous traditions!

They probably also want their hispanic immigrant workers to count in inflating their population size (maybe only as 3/5 of a white person?) while preferring that they don’t actually vote. Although maybe that’s why central Oregon, with a larger immigrant worker population, didn’t sign on to this silly initiative.

Comments

  1. Ed Seedhouse says

    I believe your electoral college system for electing actors and showmen to run your country does mean that, in effect, acreage does have a vote.

  2. unclefrogy says

    I used to know someone who moved there who would be very much in favor of that silly initiative. We did not get along very well. He would never have noticed the benefit of the western part of the state only the resentment of the liberal nature the politics and its economics as well
    uncle frogy

  3. Pierce R. Butler says

    … setting up a powerful Senate that favored large empty states with low populations …

    Back in 1787, the Senate and Electoral College were created primarily for the benefit of geographically small states (Delaware, New Hampshire, etc) that had the leverage to force the Constitutional Convention to lock in their power (and, of course, for the advantage of keeping power in the hands of the elites who controlled the state legislatures which elected Senators under the original scheme).

    Georgia, at that time, was the only large-area, small-population state to match our esteemed host’s description.

  4. tommynottimmy says

    A few counties in northern Colorado tried to break off and become the 51st state some years ago. I kind of wonder what would have happened if they succeeded. There is potential for a ton of money from the old industry, but all anyone does up here is complain about all the regulations and taxes, so it seems possible that it would just be a big ol’ oil slick at this point.

  5. consciousness razor says

    Isn’t it strange how rural voters don’t understand the concept of democracy?

    I’m going to assume you didn’t just forget where you happen to live….

    The rich part of Oregon is the western side of the state, and especially the city of Portland. They want to cut themselves off from that

    So, you’re saying these poorer folks (“losers”) don’t want their lives controlled by a bunch of condescending, classist assholes who have vastly different economic interests. No surprise there…. Anyway, people have a right to do things like that, and in a democracy that right would be respected. Maybe coming from a rural area as you do, you just didn’t grasp the subtleties of this specific point, PZ. Personally, if there were a way to be cut off from rich folks who believe they know better than people like me, because wealth and power are always assumed without argument to be a sign of moral rectitude, I’d definitely consider it.

    I guarantee you that those two counties receive greater benefit from the state of Oregon than they contribute

    You’re apparently not factoring in the federal government, which doesn’t need to raise taxes on citizens in order to commit to public funding. (However, it nonetheless does a lot of the time, with poorer folks like our protagonists usually picking up the tab.)

    It looks like Oregon, according to these 2017 figures, gets more federal aid as a percent of its total state general revenue compared to Idaho. If Oregon itself is doing comparatively less, then why would this be a bad idea again?

    Were you just thinking “Idaho’s poor, being poor is for losers, so this is bad” or was there more to it?

    and join with a poorer state with less influence.

    The money was discussed above, and in any case, that has a lot more to do with capitalism than it does democracy.

    As for their political influence, both states get two Senators and two corresponding electors in the electoral college, even though Idaho has a much smaller population, meaning more bang for your buck there. Those counties would also form a larger percentage of the population in a smaller state like Idaho, which means they could have a greater impact on the state government.

  6. consciousness razor says

    myself:

    It looks like Oregon, according to these 2017 figures, gets more federal aid as a percent of its total state general revenue compared to Idaho. If Oregon itself is doing comparatively less, then why would this be a bad idea again?

    The question is also about how much of that money is going to more heavily populated areas on the coast. There are more people, so they probably do need more funding. But the point is that a move to Idaho would mean they’re not being weighed against such a large block of people anymore. It could turn out to be a bigger piece of a similarly-sized pie.

  7. daulnay says

    This is why you study humanities; Oregon had a wave of settlement by Confederates after the Civil War. Many of the towns were sundown towns as a result. The Confederates settled in the southern and eastern parts of the state. Is it any surprise both regions have secessionist tendencies, even today?

  8. raven says

    I guarantee you that those two counties receive greater benefit from the state of Oregon than they contribute

    They don’t care.

    These are the counties that routinely vote down bond levies to fund such things as libraries, schools, police, and fire departments.

    I’m not sure what they do actually care about despite the fact, or maybe because of the fact that I grew up in a similar environment, northern Washington but near the ocean.
    What I remember in the area with a high percentage Scandinavian population, was all the heavy drinking. Alcohol was a way of life and getting really drunk was normal and accepted.
    And of course, guns and pickup trucks. The only difference between then and now is that…they added methamphetamine to their culture.
    Alcohol, guns, pickup trucks, methamphetamine. and right wingnut politics.

  9. mikeschmitz says

    On the plus side, Deschutes County, which is also east of the cascades in Oregon, went blue this election cycle.

  10. raven says

    A lot of rural areas have become dysfunctional hellholes full of crime, poverty, and high levels of every social problem you can imagine.
    Not all of them though. The ones that have managed to retain an economic base and a working culture are still good places to live.

    About once a year I go up north and drive through a farming town near where I used to live. It’s all but abandoned. The post office, store, and schools are all gone. The last business in the town closed a decade ago, the cafe is still there but boarded up. There are two churches, one a tear down and the other one is for sale.

    My relatives are from a similar town in the upper midwest. None of them live there any more. It’s doing better but not by much. The average age in the county is around 60.
    I estimate that at least half the county income is government transfer payments, mostly federal. Crop subsidies, conservation acreage payments, social security, Medicare, welfare payments, and an alphabet soup of other programs to support rural areas.
    And oh yeah, they really hate the federal government.
    Without all that federal money, the place would be one step away from a buffalo range land.

  11. mnb0 says

    Aha. According to PZ democracy does not mean that a minority of Oregon counties prefer to join Idaho, while the majority of those counties prefers so.
    Because PZ knows better what’s good for them than those people themselves. And silly me always thought that that was the definiton of authoritarianism. But no, trve democracy means voting as PZ wishes.

  12. says

    Sounds a lot like Brexit. As we will see around the middle of January over in the UK, when the economic realities of cutting ties finally hit home, people of this sort will be absolutely astounded that destroying the economic engines which keep them afloat actually means that their economic life is destroyed — but they’ll still be blaming everybody but themselves for it. (If you’ve been watching, the brick wall that the UK’s economy is approaching at high speed is becoming too hard to ignore, even for the Tories, and therefore suddenly the government is blaming businesses for not preparing enough — when, even now, the government still does not have a full set of regulations to obey in January so that preparedness is literally impossible, the EU for not letting the UK have exactly the same privileges as a non-member that it had as a member, and people who voted to stay in the EU for… uh… well, the blame-throwing exists, but I haven’t seen any statement which even tries to explain how that would work. I suppose the disastrous consequences of Brexit will be Remain voters’ fault for not campaigning hard enough or something?) Rest assured that if those counties jump to Idaho, within a couple of years they’ll be publicly angry that Oregon isn’t still paying them subsidies.

  13. microraptor says

    Democracy means that states and counties can make their own choices. It doesn’t mean that they won’t get mocked if the choices they decide on are stupid.

  14. dsuzuki says

    “ setting up a powerful Senate that favored large empty states with low populations over dense states with many people” – I think the assumed small state bias for Republicans is overrated. For example there are 15 states that have five or less electoral votes – all states have at least three. Of these, eight reliably vote Republican (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, and West Virginia) and seven vote Democratic (Hawaii, DC, Delaware, Rhode Island, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Maine). That’s not a huge difference, though it can matter in certain situations, such as a close Senate balance or Presidential election.

  15. unclefrogy says

    the states are what they are when they joined the union. are the people who defending this proposal advocating that the states should have the right to rearrange their boarders to match the politics of the day? How and why would this not end up with something like the gerrymandering that is practiced by the political party in power at the time of redistricting . What makes anyone think that it would happen only once and be done?
    If we should now redraw the state boarders then I would recommend an independent commission be established to redraw the boarders and why not to coincide with the census and the representative redistricting. We need more complications and more areas of squabbling that is for sure.
    uncle frogy

  16. Pierce R. Butler says

    dsuzuki @ # 14 – You make a reasonable case, but you weaken it by stretching it too far.

    a) Maine & New Hampshire do not lean consistently toward Democrats [vide: Collins, S].

    b) DC has not achieved statehood (yet?), and has minimal political clout.

  17. xohjoh2n says

    @12 I believe us Remoaners are to blame for stabbing this Great Sovereign Nation in the back and undermining our negotiating position in Brussels, without which undermining the EU would have rolled over and given us a fantastic deal, much better than EU membership.

  18. says

    Hey, those louts who stopped in Eastern Oregon are my ancestors. We settled the John Day Valley just after the Civil War. Stayed there until the 90s when all the work dried up. Then we picked up sticks and moved again. Now we’re almost out of West to move to. There’s this damn ocean in the way. I heard Australia’s nice this time of year though.

  19. KG says

    The Vicar@12,

    Oddly enough, your closest political counterparts in the UK were and are the “lexiters”, who sided with Johnson and Farage against the “establishment” politicians who opposed Brexit.

  20. Pierce R. Butler says

    KG @ # 20: … the “lexiters”…

    Not to be confused with the US lexiters, a Latinx group trying to draw Spanish-speakers from the Democrats to the Republicans (with, regrettably, some recent success).

  21. dsuzuki says

    Pierce @ 17 – 1) no doubt you still have cases of Senators from the other party winning in hostile territory, including Dems holding seats in Ohio, West Virginia, and Montana, but that is becoming increasingly rare. Collins is the last Republican senator in New England, so is the exception that generally proves the rule. Maine is more moderate than other parts of NE, but when she retires, very likely to be replaced by a Dem.

    2) You’re right, DC generally lacks representation, but does get three electoral votes, the same as multiple small Republican states, so counts in that regard. Definitely should be a full blown state.

    Thanks for the response.

  22. Chakat Firepaw says

    We periodically see something similar here in Ontario: People in the north making noise about how the province should be split. Either into a North Ontario and South Ontario, or by splitting off Toronto, (defined as anything from just the city itself to the entire Golden Horseshoe around the west end of Lake Ontario).

    It tends to last about as long as it takes them to notice people in Toronto being conspicuously quiet in their opposition.

  23. kingoftown says

    Just goes to show that there is no real cultural attachment to a particular state, makes sense since they’re mostly just straight lines drawn on a map. So if people are willing to swap states based on political opinion why should these accidents of history be the unit Senate seats are based on? Surely “state rights” shouldn’t matter if you have no allegiance to the state you live in.

    @12 The Vicar
    Brexit is another great example of lines drawn on a map creating problems. People on both sides of the border in Ireland want it to remain open, yet the actions of the Tory party and the votes of the people in GB means we may end up with a completely arbitrary border neither side wants (although hopefully Biden will force the UK to honour the Good Friday Agreement and EU withdrawal bill).

  24. Ridana says

    24 @kingoftown:

    they’re mostly just straight lines drawn on a map.

    Have you seen a map of the US? The only states drawn with only straight lines are UT, WY, CO and (mostly) NM. Hell, some states’ territories aren’t even contiguous (see KY Bend and Pt. Roberts WA, e.g.). :D

  25. kingoftown says

    @26 Ridana
    Want weird borders, come to Europe. I can drive along a road in Monaghan/Fermanagh and cross the border 5 times in 10 minutes. The Netherlands/ Belgium border is a mess, with enclaves within enclaves.

  26. MadHatter says

    Eastern Colorado tries this periodically too, though I think last time they wanted their own state. And I swear I recall discussion when I lived in Washington state about the eastern half trying it as well. In both cases it was pointed out that they were not economically viable without the metropolitan parts that they were objecting to.

  27. Kagehi says

    You’re apparently not factoring in the federal government, which doesn’t need to raise taxes on citizens in order to commit to public funding. (However, it nonetheless does a lot of the time, with poorer folks like our protagonists usually picking up the tab.)

    This statement kind of confuses, and/or blows me away, because the only method I know in which the fed can just “make up” money to do things is by running a massive deficit, and its these deficits that the GOP spends all its time whining and complaining about even while creating them more than Dems have recently, and then crow, “We need to end all state government assistance and socialist aid programs to fix!!” See, the problem with this is… eventually the damn money has to come from some place, and its not coming out of the pocket of, as you no doubt realize quite well, corporate taxes, or the pockets of people with so much money that they could (if the courts let them get by with such a thing), literally buy the government like another corporations (instead of just doing what the courts keep letting them do, and bribe it).

  28. birgerjohansson says

    Neal Stephenson’s “Snow Crash” -a parody of Ayn Rand’s ideas- had small enclaves spread all over USA,so arch-conservatives would have their own state with its own constitution spread across hundreds of patches of land from state to state. naturally, policing wad performed by private companies (Robocop, anyone?) and everything is a complete and utter mess!
    But the kooks got their own “utopias” to live in.

  29. davidc1 says

    @18 Yeah us remoaners ,wot a shower of bastards we are .Would you care to inform our American friends about the giant lorry parks they are building in Kent ,also drop in the gem about any lorry heading to Europe and passing through Kent will have to have a permit/passport to enter ,or would you like me to?

  30. says

    @#20, KG:

    Nope. My closest counterparts are the independence parties in the countries other than England, who are fed up with Tory malevolence and Labour backstabbing and want sane policy if it means getting rid of the whole boiling.

    Your equivalent is easy — people who still support Labour, even after they jettisoned Corbyn (literally the best opposition leader the UK has ever seen, with both more defeats of the government in total and more per month than any other opposition leader in history) in favor of Keir Starmer, a right-of-center hack who wants Labour to abstain, rather than oppose, while Tories are actively destroying the country, and has loudly proclaimed that Labour needs to stop supporting poor people and seek corporate donors. That’s the sort of leadership you’re supporting over here. Great news for you: the Democrats are now announcing — despite left-wing policy initiatives passing all over the place while Biden and the Democrats had a terrible pounding — that they’re going to move right, because obviously their poor performance was moving too far left and not choosing a candidate nobody liked very much and then campaigning rightward.

    (I told you that would happen. It was the obvious outcome of supporting Biden. You ought to have listened. Instead, we’re going to get a weak, right-leaning president who does what the Republicans want, makes everything worse, and loses in 2024. Great jorb, Democrats, have a golf clap.)

  31. John Morales says

    Vicar (singular):

    … the Democrats are now announcing — despite left-wing policy initiatives passing all over the place while Biden and the Democrats had a terrible pounding — that they’re going to move right …

    So you claim. But you lack any credibility.

    (To be as obvious as I can be to such as you: I do not for a moment believe anything you say, until and unless I confirm it)

  32. KG says

    The Vicatr@32,

    Jesus wept, but you’re an oblivious fuckwit. The only UK lefties I’ve ever heard saying there’s no significant difference between American Democrats and Republicans, or Trump and Clinton/Biden – and in at least one case actually thinking it was a good thing Trump won in 2016 – are, precisely, Lexiters. A huge problem with Corbyn, who in terms of other policies was the best leader Labour has had for decades if not ever, was his equivocal stance on Brexit – he had a long record of opposing EU membership (which was the policy of the whole of the Labour left until relatively recently), and his declared preference for staying in never really convinced. He, and even more his main advisers such as Andrew Murray and Seumas Milne – the UK left’s very own upper-class twits – were apparently unable to see that, whatever the faults of the EU, leaving it under a Tory government was going to hand the political initiative to the hard right, as it did (only Tory incompetence gave Labour an outside chance of defeating it in 2017, when May called an election she didn’t need to). After the original Brexit referendum in 2016, I was (still am, I think) a member of a group called “Another Europe is Possible”, which campaigned for a fresh referendum from a left viewpoint. Most of its support was from the left of the Labour Party (people such as Clive Lewis and Lloyd Russell-Moyle), leavened by Greens, a small party called Left Unity, and non-party members – but it was absolutely hamstrung by Corbyn’s continued equivocation.

    I’m a member of the Scottish Green Party, which is if anything to the left of Corbyn, pro-independence, and anti-Brexit. I campaigned for independence in 2014 and will do so again. I’ve actually mentioned these facts numerous times on this site. Of course you may not have seen those mentions, but that you can think I’d be a centrist Labourite shows just how utterly, risibly wrong you are in your estimates of those you disagree with. That, in turn, is undoubtedly a function of your revolting self-absorption and self-righteousness.

    As for your predictions about what the Democrats will do in the near future, I expect a period of fierce argument over who is to blame for the (relative) disappointment of the election (that’s not much of a prediction, as it’s already started). (When a party wins the Presidency against an incumbent, still has an outside chance of recapturing the Senate, and holds on to the House of Representatives it only gained in the mid-terms two years ago, “a terrible pounding” is a bizarre way to describe it, but you’ve always had a problem with reality.) I don’t pretend to know what the outcome of that struggle will be, but in fact I think the progressives in the party are in a stronger position than they would be if the “blue wave” had happened – Pelosi has already been making excuses for the loss of seats in the House. And we can certainly expect a period of turmoil within the Republican Party, as Trump and his family and cronies try to maintain their hold while the free-traders and neocons (who want the TPP, a strong NATO, an anti-Russian stance, etc.) attempt to regain full control.

    And as for your belief that you can predict the result of the 2024 election – the arrogant stupidity is truly gobsmacking. If 2020 hasn’t taught you that predicting political events even months ahead is a tricky business, I don’t know what will; I can’t recall offhand whether you were one of those confident that Biden would lose, but it was certainly a common theme both before and after it was clear he’d get the nomination among those with similar views to yours. My own hunch is that without Covid and his grossly incompetent, delusional and sociopathic response to it, Trump would probably have beaten any Democratic opponent because of the state of the economy, plus the vote suppression, illicit use of government resources, etc. that he benefitted from; but what’s certain is that the entire campaign would have been utterly different.

  33. KG says

    Your equivalent is easy — people who still support Labour, even after they jettisoned Corbyn – The Vicar@32

    It didn’t occurr to me immediately, but this suggests you haven’t even picked up that I’m British. Well, no reason you should be interested in me as such, but when you are arguing – and trading insults – with someone on a regular basis, it’s rather odd not even to have absorbed a relevant fact about them that is quite often mentioned, and even apart from that, might be guessed from the topics they comment on.

Leave a Reply