What is the next step beyond battles at city hall, state legislation insisting on election reform, defending constitutional rights, county-by-county redistricting? Simple – leave the state. That is happening as individuals and companies flee blue states for red. Second step? Divide your state, create your own state, or join another state by voting our county outright? Seems so.
On the one hand, many liberal states – from New York to California – are seeing homeowners, businesses, and security-minded populations relocate to freer, safer, more prosperous red states. This phenomenon – disaffection and relocation, the mass fleeing of chaotic liberal cities and states – is well along. See, e.g., https://www.marketwatch.com/story/people-are-leaving-california-and-new-york-for-red-states-heres-how-it-could-shake-up-the-political-landscape-2020-01-12; https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=fleeing+california+new+yorkt&qpvt=fleeing+california+new+yorkt&FORM=VDRE.
The surprising second step – for some – is voting to unsnap your county from a liberal state and try snapping it to another state. If this sounds fictional or illegal, it is neither. If it sounds unlikely, probably so, for now. Still, these voters are sending a signal to local leaders, state legislatures, governors, and members of Congress.
While most view “county secession” movements as unlikely to prevail – since they require two state legislatures and Congress to consent – the point is real: People are fed up. They are sick of political correctness, “woke” or “cancel” culture, coercive public education, critical race theory, Marxist indoctrination, anti-constitutional and anti-patriotic sentiment. They are exhausted by unending lockdowns, rolling riots, reverse racism, no rule of law, down-funding police, deriding democracy.
States from Maine to Texas, Georgia to Oregon, are finding themselves internally divided – breaking into red and blue, limited versus big government counties. The effect is deep divisions within legislatures, more acrimony between counties, and a greater sense of lost state-wide consensus.
Some would argue that such a turn is not new since states often divide between rural and urban counties, big and small, wealthy and not, seaside and interior. But something new is afoot. People are roiled, angry at left-shifting urban counties and state governments that walk over rights. They are looking for solutions – and one is county secession. This idea is gaining currency – from Minnesota and West Virginia to points West. See, e.g., https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2020/01/29/jim-justice-virginia-counties-succeeding-welcome-west-virginia/4607728002/; https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/politics/minnesota-state-rep-proposes-some-counties-secede-and-become-part-of-south-dakota/ar-BB1f5prG#:~:text=Even%20if%20it%20does%20pass%2C%20a%20county%20would,board%20and%20a%20two-thirds%20vote%20by%20county%20voters.
The latest case in Oregon, which just saw a remarkable vote last week. Five large Oregon counties voted in favor of considering becoming part of Idaho,” including Baker, Grant, Lake, Malheur, and Sherman. The five join two others that voted to consider seceding, Union and Jefferson. The likelihood is small but sentiment strong. See, https://www.oregonlive.com/politics/2021/05/more-oregon-counties-vote-to-move-into-idaho-part-of-rural-effort-to-to-gain-political-refuge-from-blue-states.html.
Interestingly, the votes last week – were not even close. Three-fifths of Grant county said to consider leaving. Two-thirds of Lake county agreed. Others were similar. The push to join Idaho – or create a conservative “Greater Idaho” from Oregon’s rural counties – is not flimsy.
What this movement means – beyond recalculation of state borders – is important. People are tired of being told what to do, dictated to by out-of-touch leaders and cities, tired of feeling powerless, marginalized for their traditional, political, ethnic, historical, economic, or geographic identifiers.
The real message is not that America is going to see a mass switch in state borders – since that would take two conservative state legislatures and Congress, obviating the need. The meaning is broader.
Three reasons describe why the movement matters. First, people are inordinately angry – they are so angry that they are going to the polls in big numbers to consider voting themselves out of their own state. Given traditional state loyalties, that has almost never happened. What it should tell legislatures, governors, and Congress is that people are at a boil-over point and are sending a message.
Second, this movement suggests that state-level policies are drifting – perhaps flying – away from old norms, becoming less respectful, less broad-based, not reflecting concerns, disinterested in consensus. City-centered policies are becoming intolerant, intolerable, and dismissive of rural practices, preferences, attitudes, and needs – effectively pushing left-leaning priorities, from reduced law enforcement to ideologically leftist education, on traditional counties.
Third, the county-level reaction to leftist overreach, state disinterest in more limited government, lower taxes, less regulation, public safety, and freedom for counties, towns, businesses, families, and individuals is reflective of something happening at the national level, too.
Much like popular discontent with state leaders by rural and suburban counties, an increasing number of Americans are disgusted by a lack of attention to consensus building, let alone accountability, by Congress and the Biden-Harris White House.
Congressional and Biden-Harris’s talk of bipartisanship has been cheap and empty. Repeating words like unity and tolerance without commensurate interest in compromise is not just a missed opportunity, misstatement of fact, or deception – it is the reason for mounting frustration among level-headed voters.
All these vectors to predictions. Expect more talk of county realignment in different states, based on levels of division, constitutional processes, and urban-rural/suburban divide. Expect more grassroots movements pushing state-level actions to restore balance, from legislation to recall petitions, civic disruptions to elevated heat on congressional members.
Finally, watch 2022 elections for control of state legislatures, governorships, and both chambers of Congress begin earlier, get nastier faster, and produce a major channeling force for one of the highest levels of popular discontent with leaders at all levels of government in living memory.
On the one hand, people voting with their feet to leave liberal states for more rational, accountable, and prosperous states – as well as getting politically active earlier to restore balance and respect for law in statehouses, legislatures, and in Congress is good. Civic involvement is the Republic’s lifeblood.
On the other, these are fast-tumbling times, a period in history when disquiet and discontent are bubbling over. Such times are – historically – dangerous. Needed are Americans who care, who are willing to get politically active, running, petitioning, helping restore balance while respecting law and order. Luckily for 2022, most people who think that way are conservative. At least we know seven conservative Oregon counties think that way – and are sending a signal. America is tired of leftist policies – and starting to take action to reverse them.