Problems with adding parts of Oregon to Idaho

Jim Parr’s Will Oregon shrink? (Keizertimes, May 1)) inspired reactions from provocations to thoughtful considerations. Meanwhile, for the last two legislative sessions, state House Republicans have walked out of the Capitol due to deadlocking disagreements with the Democrats, resulting in disabling divisiveness due to hidebound ideological differences taking center stage where not much happens there these days save for the spending of taxpayer dollars for legislator costs to assemble, where verbal battles enjoin threats of violence.

Parr’s imagined Idaho writ large would be easy by geography but profoundly difficult by the fact that some communities in his expanded Idaho, such as Ashland, Bend, Coos Bay, Florence and Ontario could result in vigorous opposition, loud protest, and bring armed insurgents to the Capitol steps over address relocations. Then there’s the political involvement in such a matter of financial consequence where interests would simply not roll over and go along with Oregon losing a congressional district and Idaho gaining one.

Those who may find a redesign of the west’s boundaries appealing may want to contemplate the possibility that such an arrangement would not work out so perfect for the former Oregonians. Idaho may still be very conservative like eastern and southern Oregon; yet, rumor has it that Boise and other places throughout Idaho, especially where business growth and population are growing by outsider numbers just could become as progressive and even—horrors!—liberal as Portland and Eugene, with Salem coming up in third place among the three by adoption of modern views.

Oregon was established as a state on February 14, 1859. During subsequent years, when Republicans and Democrats vied to be in charge, one or the other managed in and out of power without, to my knowledge, one party walking out of the Capitol because they couldn’t have their way. Which has always been due (by any accounting of state history) with the ability of one party over the other in triumph by the attractiveness of its campaign promises and record, attracting more votes. Now, as it turns out, we have a condition not so prevalent in former times.

That relatively new condition is ideology. Ideology defined here is people who’ve taken the oath of office to serve all the citizens of Oregon but really come to the Capitol as uncompromising, dogmatic apostles dedicated to one way of thinking: unyielding and fixed in their approach to all matters legislative.  

Therein lies the real challenge of our time: entrenched, immovable attitudes versus minds open to discussing differences, using the art of compromise and listening skills. Without practicing resolution to disputes by compromise, our democracy has reached critical mass and highly likely near its end with jackboots, clenched fists and weapons of war a daily spectacle at our capitol. 

(Gene McIntyre lives in Keizer. He shares his opinion regularly in the Keizertimes.)