» Restive rurals have had enough


A perspective from Oregon’s mid-Willamette Valley

Restive rurals have had enough

Written January 20th, 2016 by Hasso Hering
It's hard to hold the camera level when you're driving past on Interstate 5.

It’s hard to hold the camera level when you’re driving and speeding past on Interstate 5.

This open-sided shed off Interstate 5 outside Yreka has promoted the “State of Jefferson” ever since I can remember. The idea is no closer to reality than ever. But the natives, some of them anyway, are getting restive. They’ve had enough.

The most obvious sign of unrest is the protest in Harney County, where men have occupied the empty headquarters of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge and dared the authorities to do something about it. They seek to end federal control of vast western lands.

A much more traditional occasion was a rally in front of the Capitol in Sacramento earlier this month, in the rain. Scores of people from the northern California counties waved the double-cross flag of Jefferson, made speeches, gave interviews and presented petitions asking the Assembly to endorse the formation of a new state.

Meanwhile in Oregon, KATU in Portland did a story on an eastern Oregon farmer’s proposal to have Idaho annex the Oregon and Washington counties east of the Cascades.

All of these people, in their different ways, complain that laws passed and decisions made in Sacramento, Salem or Olympia hurt citizens in rural sections of their respective states, either by over-regulating or by ignoring them.

The events that dissidents stage or the proposals they make will come to nothing. Of that we can be sure. The protesters at the refuge will be crushed if they don’t leave on their own. Idaho won’t accept a big swath of territory that wants attention and money even if Oregon, Washington and Congress wanted to make the change. And the state of Jefferson will remain a slogan symbolizing a few people’s impractical hope.

Impractical? Well, I grabbed that photo while rushing past the shed and its slogan while driving on a multibillion-dollar highway, a beautiful road built and maintained in excellent shape largely with fuel taxes paid by all those millions of drivers in the metro jungles down south and up north.

But while the political boundaries won’t change — barring an upheaval far more violent and lasting than a rally or an “occupation” — these events have real causes. If lawmakers and bureaucrats in the state capitals are smart, or if they merely do their duty, they will stop treating citizens anywhere as though they don’t count. (hh)

5 responses to “Restive rurals have had enough”

  1. Bob Woods says:

    “If lawmakers and bureaucrats in the state capitals are smart, or if they merely do their duty, they will stop treating citizens anywhere as though they don’t count.”

    The State of Jefferson was proposed in 1852, shortly after Oregon became a state, and has been agitated for pretty much continuously since then. It’s NOT about politicians or bureaucrats who don’t listen. It’s about a sub-culture of America that is anti-government, not just mad at the current government. It’s about those members of that culture that accept no government unless they are the ones that run the government.

    That’s not democracy. It’s about controlling those that don’t agree with them regardless of how people vote.

    • H. R. Richner says:

      Our country is not a democracy, it is a constitutional republic. The difference is evident in this controversy. The constitution is all about the limits of federal power and the protection of minority rights even of our bureaucrats and the ninth circuit court of appeals do not like it .The second-rate states of the West who are half owned by the federal government have the right to the rest of their territory just like the original ones.

  2. Richard Vannice says:

    I’d bet that if this were to happen those areas that would be left outside any metropolitan area would still draw the short straw. It isn’t only Eastern and Southern Oregon and the Oregon coast that get short shrift. The Portland Metro area rules the state because they have the most votes and they tell the rest of us what we want and will get.

  3. centrist says:

    The pic is slanted left.
    Accident of the moment, or something else????


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