51st state is dumb idea

The News Tribune - - Opinion - TRI-CITY HER­ALD

The idea of split­ting Wash­ing­ton apart based on vot­ing pat­terns is ridicu­lous, but the sug­ges­tion con­tin­ues to come up. After last month’s 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.

Specif­i­cally, Ini­tia­tive 1639 – which placed new re­stric­tions on buy­ing and stor­ing cer­tain guns – was ap­proved with dom­i­nant “yes” votes in the Seat­tle area and other Puget Sound coun­ties. 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. One of the rea­sons the idea en­dures is that Repub­li­can Rep. Matt Shea of Spokane Val­ley con­tin­ues to push it. He even has a name for his 51st state – Lib­erty. There is a web­site de­voted to its cre­ation, com­plete with state flag, seal and draft con­sti­tu­tion.

Yet it makes no sense. Surely res­i­dents of our beau­ti­ful, dry and sunny side would pay more in taxes and re­ceive less ser­vices. State rev­enue gen­er­ated by Puget Sound giants like Boe­ing, Ama­zon and Mi­crosoft helps ev­ery­one.

And to­gether, both sides of the state make a great team. For ex­am­ple, we have a strong agriculture base and they have the ports needed to get crops to mar­ket.

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.

We are bet­ter off find­ing ways to work to­gether than re­treat­ing into po­lit­i­cal bub­bles.

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