Dear editor,

I read Malori Yates' Dec. 19 letter to the editor as emphasizing the importance of participating in our electoral process.  I think participation is a very important point.  I find her analysis of partisan politics interesting and I would like to build on what she said.  While numbers varied from race to race, it seems most statewide races in 2016 were in the 55 percent Democratic / 45 percent Republican range. Certainly, local races vary widely. 

To Washington's credit, having six Democratic members of Congress and four Republican members of Congress for most of this decade has fairly reflected the political spectrum and makes Washington far more representative than some of the heavily partisan gerrymanders we see in other states. Until the next election we will have seven Democrats and three Republicans.  That however reflects the voters' choices, not some heavily partisan distortion built into the system.

I am not concerned about the relatively large political impact of heavily populated counties because people vote, not county courthouses, not farm silos, not orchards. In the 2018 election, King County cast 968,000 voter. Garfield County had 1,380 voters. In fact, if you take the five precincts in and around Eatonville, there were 3,885 votes. There were four counties in Eastern Washington that cast fewer votes than the Eatonville area.  So, I have no anguish that the people in these counties don't have significant political impact.

The most interesting subject Ms. Yates touched on is the rural and urban divide that is so pronounced in partisan politics.  I believe the core values of city dwellers and rural residents are very similar.  One marked difference is that if you are self-sufficient in a rural are you have little need for others. Only some things like schools are a common enterprise that requires area cooperation.  In the rural area, it is easier to say, "I am self-sufficient.  Why aren't you?" In a city you are more likely to be aware that your well-being depends on what others do, and that not everyone has the same abilities or opportunities that I have. 

I briefly would inject the idea that many people find themselves in difficult situations because they started as damaged goods.  Why did you choose a mother that had drug or alcohol problems?  Why did you pick an abusive father?  Why did you grow up in a home that that was seriously disadvantaged?  The impact of those kinds of problems cannot be underestimated.  A competing philosophy seems to be that we cannot help those disadvantaged people because that would block their sense of self-sufficiency and make them dependent on others. Out of work? Well get a job.  Simple.  Drink too much or use drugs? Simple, just quit.

The headline for the Dec. 26 edition of The Dispatch notes that one-third of Eatonville families received some assistance during the Christmas season.  Whether to a person that represents a lot of people struggling in a difficult economy or whether it means there are a lot of lazy people who are willing to let others do their work is a judgment that probably fuels political decisions as well.

I would suggest to Ms. Yates that most people respond more to their perceived values than to partisan labels.  I see my own voting patterns change as the parties take new directions, as the candidates change, as the state or district changes or as my values and needs change.  Washington, for one stretch of time, didn't vote for a governor and a president of the same political party.  Then we started a long run of Democratic governors.  When the Republican candidate was seriously right wing, it was no contest.  When the Republican candidate was centrist the races were close or extremely close.  As our ethnic and racial diversity changed, the votes of those new groups were influenced by the same factors that influence all of us.

Even in our local races we see these factors in play.  For example, the five precincts in and around Eatonville voted Republican in the 2016 Congressional race by a margin of 68 percent to 32 percent.  This year the Republican candidate won by 59 percent to 41 percent, a significant difference. 

So, lets participate over the next two years and try to have our political parties represent our best values rather than a race to appeal to the lowest instincts.


Bob Klavano