I live in Enumclaw, which is a rural town at the southern end of very progressive King County. On at least three occasions, this part of the county has considered forming its own county or annexing itself to neighboring Pierce County. Many of South King County inhabitants feel like they are ignored and outvoted by the more populous progressive urban areas to our north.

In short, your frustrations with Western Washington and its political dominance in the state reflect my similar feeling of living in the largest Washington county, yet getting short shrift in attention to our unique needs. Many Eastern Washington residents must feel that Democratically-controlled Olympia just doesn’t listen. This feeling is the result of virtual one-party rule since 1985 when the last Republican governor, John Spellman, ended his term.

The problem of one-party rule is that leadership gets arrogant over time, and tends to discount the feelings and the needs of the political minority. The Democratic Party’s support in Washington comes from minorities and most college-educated voters who live in high density urban areas. Democrats in Washington tend to focus on the needs of big cities and big businesses. Small towns and small businesses are often ignored in the process.

LGBTQ rights: Rural people and small-town citizens often reflect more traditional religious values. The rapid social changes that have occurred in the nation and the state must baffle many in Eastern Washington. Emphasis on LGBTQ rights, the use of pronouns, and “gender-affirming” procedures for teens make many people on the eastern side of the state believe that the leadership on the western side has lost contact with reality.

During my 31-years of teaching high school, it was difficult enough for adolescents to deal with being either a biological male or female. Now, multiple choices are being openly encouraged as early as young elementary age. Based upon discussions with an elementary school employee, children’s pronouns can change on a daily or weekly basis.

Title IX protections: Title IX was instituted to allow girls and women to compete in sports. That was a major improvement that was only allowed for boys previously. What effects will allowing biological males at birth to compete as transgender athletes have on the psyches of young girls or teens? All these issues have moved into uncertain and unresearched areas of gender identity. These issues are fraught with uncertainty. Hopefully, the state will come up with some sense of balance as they did with teen counseling privacy.

Parental rights in counseling teens: According to an October 24th, 2019 article in U.S. News and World Report entitled “Washington State Law on Behavioral Care Balances Parental Rights, Teens’ Autonomy”:

[As of July 2019] “Under the new law, teenagers can still decide on their own to see a mental health therapist or a substance use disorder counselor on an outpatient or inpatient basis. But now parents have more say about outpatient care…. Even if the child doesn’t consent, as long as it’s medically necessary care [for depression or drug addiction]…. Parents can [also] learn details about their adolescent’s diagnosis and treatment for mental health problems…if the behavioral health care provider believes that sharing information will benefit treatment and not be detrimental to the teen.”

Hot pursuit: The Democratically controlled state legislature also passed a law that allows for more freedom for police to chase fleeing criminals by lowering the barrier from “probable cause” to “reasonable suspicion”. So, while Democrats are often deaf to conservative concerns, they do listen--sometimes.

For many of you, I’m one of those “leftist liberals” who live on the west side of the Cascades. That isn’t true. I struggle to deal with government ordered decisions that come out of Olympia and from our social media, just like you do. I’m a moderate who can see both sides to arguments. Having one-party rule for 38-years has been bad for the state and is especially bad for our children.

No wonder there has been a movement initiated in Eastern Washington to become part of Idaho and Eastern Oregon rather than have to put up with Western Washington’s one-party rule.

If only the Republican Party wasn’t at war with itself! If only we had moderate Republicans to act as a counter balance to progressives who have lost their senses.

Rich Elfers is a columnist with the Courier-Herald in Enumclaw, a former Enumclaw City Council member and a Green River College professor. He can be contacted at richelfers@gmail.com.