Editorials

Splitting Washington state is a ridiculous idea that needs to quit popping up

The Washington State House of Representatives convene for floor debate, February 8, 2018.
The Washington State House of Representatives convene for floor debate, February 8, 2018. Washington State House of Representatives

The idea of splitting Washington state apart based on voting patterns is ridiculous, but the suggestion continues to come up and has been getting attention again.

After last month’s midterm elections highlighted the difference between rural “Red” and urban “Blue” regions, some conservatives lamented that liberal western Washington residents tend to set the political direction for the entire state.

Specifically, Initiative 1639 — which placed new restrictions on buying and storing certain guns — was approved with dominant “yes” votes coming out of the Seattle area and other Puget Sound counties.

The measure was not popular in eastern and southwest Washington, and its approval is a sore spot for many rural residents with deep-seated views on gun rights.

But that’s no reason to try and create a Republican utopia east of the Cascades.

I-1639 Voting.jpg
Voters statewide passed Initiative 1639, which implements restrictions on buying and owning certain firearms. Most of the “yes” votes came from western Washington, according to this analysis of voting results by the Washington Secretary of State Elections Division. Scott Came Courtesy to McClatchy

One of the reasons the extreme idea of splitting the state endures is that Republican Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane Valley continues to push the proposal. He even has a name for the new, 51st state – Liberty.

There is a website devoted to its creation, complete with state flag, seal and a draft constitution. From all appearances, it looks like a serious endeavor.

Yet it makes no sense. Contrary to what the Liberty website says, we can’t imagine how splitting off from the west side would help the east side, particularly economically.

Surely residents of our beautiful, dry and sunny side would pay more in taxes and receive less services if our state was divided. State revenue generated by Puget Sound giants like Boeing, Amazon and Microsoft help everyone.

And together, both sides of the state make a great team. For example, we’ve got farmers and a strong agriculture base, and Seattle has the ports needed to get the crops to market.

Our state, like our country, is made up of people with different views and different priorities, and we are better off finding a way to work together then retreating into political bubbles.

Besides, King County does not rule every election.

Initiative 1631, which would have charged a fee on carbon pollution to help battle climate change, was defeated despite a majority of “yes” votes coming out of King and Jefferson counties on the west side.

I-1631 Carbon .jpg
Voters statewide rejected Initiative 1631, which would have charged a fee on carbon pollution and spent the money on clean energy projects. Most of the “yes” votes came from western Washington, according to this analysis of voting results by the Washington Secretary of State Elections Division. Scott Came Courtesy to McClatchy

The rest of the state voted it down — which shows that Seattle residents can’t control ballot measures all by themselves.

We don’t always agree with the decisions made where west-side interests dominate, but secession isn’t a realistic answer.

With all the important issues that will be facing lawmakers during the next legislative session, compromise is important and laws are generally better when give-and-take is involved.

The idea of splitting Washington may make for interesting discussion, but it shouldn’t be taken seriously. We would be better off if people focused on how to cooperate with — rather than reject — one another.

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