Rally held in county gathers supporters for 51st state
Calling on people to keep hope alive and to spread the word among like-minded folks, leaders of the movement to split Washington into two states held a rally on March 19.
In front of a mostly adult, mostly Caucasian crowd of about 100 people that half-filled the Lake City Foursquare Church in Moses Lake, advocates of a new state called Liberty painted the picture of a state free of, among other things, property taxes, the Department of Ecology, the Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Growth Management Act, business regulations, the Endangered Species Act, threats to the Second Amendment, pro-choice points of view, mosques, communists, liberals, and what Rep. Matt Shea sees as the burden of having to follow an agenda set by left-wingers in Seattle.
Shea, a state legislator from the Spokane area, spearheads the movement for a 51st state, and the Saturday meeting began with a video of a 2018 presentation by Shea.
“We would function just fine,” Shea said in the video, “We have more than enough tax revenue to function,” offering the region’s high status in several areas of agricultural production as example.
A state of Liberty would serve as antidote to what currently goes on on the west side of the state, Shea said, illustrating his point by covering the west side of Washington with a hammer and sickle.
In the video, he offered the view of a state that offered “education, not indoctrination,” which elicited cheers from both the crowd in the video and at the church.
“This is not a new idea,” Shea said in the video, offering as examples how Maine was once part of Massachusetts, and how Kentucky was part of Virginia. In addition, he mentioned similar movements occurring now in California and in New York.
The state of Liberty would encompass 20 counties east of the Cascade Mountains. Shea insisted that certain rural areas in southwestern Washington also support the movement and have asked him to “take us with you.”
After the video, the captains of the movement in Chelan County, Mike McKee, and Grant County, Dani Bolyard, shared the stage in person with one of the leaders of the movement across Eastern Washington, Steve Edwards, in a short Q-and-A.
Edwards, a resident of Moxee, near Yakima, is the vice-coordinator for the whole movement and the movement’s captain for Yakima County. He predicted that Liberty state’s deregulation would cause businesses and local communities to thrive.
At the same time, not enough people have heard about it yet.
“Our biggest problem is getting the word out to people,” he said. The movement is still looking for leaders in areas of Eastern Washington, such as Adams County.
“It’s a marathon, not a sprint. We need people who will stay involved and not be looking for instant gratification,” Edwards said.
In Grant County, the task is to build momentum, Bolyard said. “We are still at step 1. Next step is, we go to our county commissioners and encourage them to join us.”
Attendees praised the speakers and the information shared.
“It was very informative,” said Terry Dungan, of Moses Lake. “Looking forward to the next one.”
Laura Perry, of Moses Lake, said she was tired of her tax dollars helping the west side of the state, without the eastside voters having a choice on the direction of the state.
Beavers Curran, of Moses Lake, agreed, saying that the people east of the Cascades had “taxation without representation, and that’s why we need a new state.”
“Hopefully we can get this done,” Perry said of the split.
The next meeting of the movement will happen in Olympia on the steps of the state Legislature this Friday.
This year the bill submitted by Shea in Olympia to approve the 51st state, House Bill 1509, failed but that should not discourage people, Bolyard added.
“The idea is, as we build knowledge out here, and our communities are getting on board with this, there’s going to be more pressure in the Legislature to pass these things. At some point, that dam is going to break, and they are going to let us go. We have got to believe in that.”
To learn more about the Liberty movement, go to www.libertystate.org.
By Sebastian Moraga, firstname.lastname@example.org