Wednesday, February 23, 2005


You know it's a divided country when even individual states are discussing an even split. This is of particular interest to me since it's my home-state and I have background on both sides (geographical and political). It's hard to imagine many places with such stark contrasts in proximity to each other. The Cascade Mountains really make a clean cut of Red and Blue as well as desert and sea, and the recent acrimonious and drawn-out governor's election has brought long-standing tensions between the two sides to a head.

There have always been those in Eastern Washington who felt that they were not represented by the powers that be in Olympia, and Dino Rossi's refusal to draw a line under the election seems to be encouraging some of the more fanatical of these folks to propose a drastic solution: partitioning the state into two, with Eastern Washington become the 51st. First things first: the separatist movement, as far as I know, has always championed "Lincoln" as the name for the new state, and this has a much finer ring than "Eastern Washington". We don't want to be like the Dakotas, do we? No, Lincoln it is.

Anyway, the plan is clearly a non-starter, but interesting for a couple of reasons. First, as noted in Jamieson's piece, Eastern Washington benefits greatly from the wealth of the Western side of the state, and separation is probably not in its best interest. Second, the entire issue is indicative of an issue in our country as a whole: what unites us? Why are we one country if there are two distinct sides that often seem to loathe each other? What precisely constitutes the common identity?

I can't say that there is an easily describable over-arching Washington identity that is as well known as, for example, the liberalism of Western Washington or the rural conservatism of Eastern Washington, but I am proud to be from a state of such diversity and would be sorry to lose half of it.

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