Power & Market

Greater-Idaho Counties, Stand Your Ground

In the midterm election, Greater Idaho ballot referendums passed in 2 Oregon counties. Voters have passed ballot referendums in 11 of the 16 Oregon counties that would join Idaho under the current Phase 1 plan.

In May, Greater Idaho ballot referendums narrowly failed in 2 other counties. Greater Idaho would have expanded to the Pacific coast under the previous Phase 1 plan.

Once voters pass the ballot referendums, Oregon and Idaho state legislatures and the USA congress would have to pass bills to change these states’ border.

But another approach would be faster and stronger.

Oregon suburban and rural county legislators should just ratify a county-region constitution. Under a county-region constitution, suburban and rural counties’ residents would delegate state powers to a United Counties of Oregon government.

In a single ratification step in each county, county legislators would hyperlocally carve out a state-level government that’s chosen by majorities of its counties’ residents.

Secede from Progressive state government

In 2020, majorities of voters chose Trump over Biden in 26 of the 36 Oregon counties.

For Oregon’s constitutionalist counties, standing their ground but leaving Progressives behind would be simple. Just as the national Constitution created a United States of America, an exactly-analogous state constitution would create a United Counties of Oregon (UCOR).

Just as state legislatures ratified the USA constitution, county legislatures would ratify the UCOR constitution. The USA constitution became effective when ratified by a 2/3 majority of the states, which was 9 of the 13 states. The UCOR constitution would become effective when ratified by a 2/3 majority of the counties, which would be 24 of the 36 counties.

This would be surgically precise to a highly-useful degree. Metro areas have Progressive urban cores but typically span multiple counties, and different counties’ residents have different political preferences. This is true in Oregon:

  • In 2020 in metro Portland, the Multnomah, Washington, and Clackamas County majorities chose Biden, while the Yamhill and Columbia county majorities chose Trump.
  • In metro Eugene, the Lane County majority chose Biden. In this case, the Lane County residents who live outside of Eugene’s urban core could choose to leave Eugene’s urban core behind to form a separate county.
  • In metro Salem, the Marion County majority chose Biden, while the Polk County majority chose Trump.

Secession of freedom-supporting counties from the legacy Oregon state government to form a UCOR government would create for metro residents the freedom to stay in the same metro area but relocate to a freer county. In the new location, residents could still commute to their same jobs, and they would still be near to their local family members and friends. But they would delegate their state-level powers to a much-more-limited state government.

The former-monopoly legacy state government would suddenly have to compete with the adjacent UCOR for residents. Even now, when state residents have to vote with their feet by moving far away, Progressive state governments have been losing such competitions. Given freer choices within Oregon’s own metro areas, the Progressive legacy state government’s losses would accelerate.

At some point the mounting losses of residents and revenues would drive even many Progressives to offer at least some more freedoms. The race to freedom would be on.

Divide and limit all governments

A UCOR constitution modeled on the Constitution and having strong local support would provide a republican form of government:

  • The UCOR government would have limited enumerated powers. Power should not be enumerated over schools. Parents as customers would drive needed, rapid improvement. Power should not be enumerated over professions. Customers should be free to buy services as freely as they buy goods. Customers would secure the lifesaving freedom to use existing drugs off-label. Enough customers would learn from professional reviewers, and all service producers would compete for these customers, so all services would improve.
  • The UCOR government would have genuinely separated powers—legislative, executive, and judicial—and no delegation of legislative powers. Together, these rules make it illegal to operate rulemaking administrative departments and agencies and to operate administrative courts.
  • The UCOR government would provide for enforcement of its rules on the government by having as sanctions various offsetting powers, which in the UCOR would be used. Strong local voter support, demanding accountability, would lead UCOR government people to use their constitutional offsetting powers against anyone in any government jurisdiction who violates a rule. Cumulatively, this would limit all government jurisdictions.

Legislators would just pass simple bills, executives would just sign bills and enforce the resulting laws, and judges would just opine on cases under the resulting laws. With legislators, executives, and judges each doing their own jobs, there would be no openings for staffers, advisors, or bureaucrats. All tradeoffs would get made by legislators and would be fully defined by the laws’ rules and sanctions. Legislators would get some tradeoffs wrong, so then they would just repeal those laws.

In republican-government release 1, the USA’s initially quite-limited government transformed the world. Under the world’s-lowest total taxes in all government jurisdictions, which through 1913 totaled just 4% to 8% of GNP, the USA’s world’s-freest people led the world to previously-unknown prosperity.

Republican-government release 2—constitutionally-limited state government, fanning out like wildfire to enforce constitutional limits throughout our governments—can be rolled out in any county region, at any time.

Constitutionalist Oregon voters keep showing their legislators that freedom matters a lot to them—that freedom decides their votes. Oregon county legislators would do well to listen and lead this simple, giant step up straightaway.

Note: The views expressed on Mises.org are not necessarily those of the Mises Institute.
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