As a hotly contested election highlights the United States’s deep divisions, rural voters in liberal blue-state Oregon have approved a radical solution — splitting off to join neighboring deep-red conservative Idaho.
Two conservative counties voted in favor of a non-binding measure to “Move Oregon’s Borders” during Tuesday’s polls, which also saw their northwestern US state predictably vote for Joe Biden in the race for president.
“In the United States, the differences between liberal and conservative… there’s hatred there,” said chief petitioner Mike McCarter, of the votes in Union and Jefferson counties.
“Populated urban areas are controlling the mass of everybody,” the 73-year-old retired gun club manager told AFP.
Oregon — whose politics are dominated by the liberal city of Portland — has not voted Republican in a presidential contest since 1984, while landlocked Idaho to the east last chose a Democrat in 1964.
But the high desert and mountainous swathes of eastern Oregon — where resource-intensive industries such as timber, ranching and mining prevail — are far more conservative than the environment-minded coastal stretches of the state.
To succeed, the breakaway would need state and congressional approval — considered highly unlikely. Tuesday’s votes simply require county officials discuss the plan, and similar measures were rejected in two other Oregon counties.
But speaking to AFP as knife-edge presidential vote counts continued in swing states across the US, McCarthy said his movement’s goals rings true for outnumbered rural conservatives across a nation in which most states apportion their electoral college votes — to choose the president — on an all-or-nothing basis.
“It’s a definite clash between blue and red,” he said. “Indiana and Illinois have got the same issue because Chicago controls all Illinois. In New York (state), New York City controls all New York.”