I’ve spent years wondering why Idahoans have such a firm dislike for Californians. I won’t call it hate. Disdain would be a better description. And everybody I talk to has a few friends who’ve moved here from California. Last week I heard a figure from our state Republican chair. She told me that 70 percent of the people surveyed in Idaho claim to be conservative. Surveys also tell us most California transplants aren’t just conservative but even more so than the locals.
I’m percolating a theory. One loud American tourist can give the impression all Americans are loud. One transplant showing up at town hall and making demands the place look more like California sets a tone. It’s like taking over a school board and telling the local people the name of a football team is no longer kosher.
Like the Republican chair, I’m not a native Idahoan. She married a guy from Idaho. I grew up on the New York State/Pennsylvania line, a three-hour drive from Pittsburg. Along the Allegheny foothills. We crossed the Allegheny River to go shopping on Friday nights. There were two traffic lights in my hometown. If you threw a rock, you had a 50/50 chance of hitting a cow. The downtown looks a lot like Wallace, Idaho, and is about the same size.
A Californian I used to work with claimed I pretended to be from Idaho. For the last decade that would be true. I’ve never claimed a Gem State pedigree, though. I work and pay taxes here. When I drive through Buhl and Kimberly it reminds me of being a kid and the great times you have growing up in a small town. The only people who whine about where I came from are politicians lashing out when I criticize their votes. Normal behavior for politicians.
What’s going on in Idaho is a battle of rural versus urban. And since many West Coast transplants come from urban or suburban regions. Even in most Idaho cities, you can find a rural mindset. It’s a belief in self-reliance and responsibility.
Change isn’t always a good thing. Life here looks a lot like a Rockwell painting, and people are happy with the view. From what I can see, you’ll get along fine if you don’t come here and act as if you’re doing everyone a favor by your presence.