Whitman County Gazette - Serving Whitman County since 1877

By Gordon Forgey

The state of Liberty


February 21, 2019

Through out the country’s history, states have faced efforts to divide them up. A current movement is to split California into three states. Arizona, Maine and Michigan are just a few that have faced similar efforts in the past.

Our own state, Washington, has over the years faced the threat of being split. The movement is fundamentally spurred by the overwhelming imbalance of population and the difference in political ideologies and life styles in those populations.

A current effort is most visibly centered around a state representative from Spokane Valley, Matt Shea. His hope is to divide Washington and have eastern Washington to go its separate way. The divide would be at the Cascades. There is very little interest in the idea on the west side, but eastern Washington has harbored the idea for years. It comes and goes.

The new push to name eastern Washington its own state, the 51st in the nation, has to do with the fear that the west side will continue to tighten and control firearm ownership just as recently passed I-639 did. The other goal is to protect the more rural east side from the “socialist” values of Seattle and King County. Many on the east side see the west as having undue influence and power over them. Politically, the two areas are quite different.

An argument for the split often comes down to taxes as well. Some claim that the poorer, rural areas of the state are supporting the richer areas, particularly in such endeavors as road construction. The truth of the matter is that the east side counties receive almost a third more in taxes than they pay, shorting the west side.

According to results of the last election, I-639 failed in eastern Washington counties except for Whitman and Spokane counties. On the west side of the Cascades it failed in a few counties as well. This simply shows that the two regions are not monolithic in their opinions, but population numbers do influence the outcomes of statewide elections. It is much the same in this county as Pullman carries a lot of weight over the rural county. Yet, it doesn’t make sense to try to separate rural Whitman County from Pullman.

It is very unlikely that such an effort will be successful, but one thing not lacking is passion to mold a new state based on the perceived values of the region. The state flag has already been designed, and its motto (Founded in Truth) has already been penned.

The biggest danger is that the idea will catch hold on the west side, and citizens there will gladly dump eastern Washington to be rid of the burden.

Be careful what you wish for.


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