Would Splitting Up Montana Make Sense?
Two Washington state congressmen have introduced a bill to basically split the Evergreen State in half. Their farfetched proposal would divide Washington along the Cascade Range, a natural "split" in the state. The Seattle half would remain Washington and the new eastern half of the state would become Liberty. Liberty, USA... the 51st state. The Olympian reports,
In addition to establishing new state lines, the bill proposes creating 15 transition committees that would establish governmental functions within Liberty. Those include education, executive functions, legislative functions, judicial functions and courts, debt, statewide elections, health care and more.
This isn't the first time some Washington residents have pushed for breaking up the 42nd state, home to about 7.6 million residents. Apparently the idea has been kicked around in certain circles for decades and former WA Representative Matt Shea began serious efforts to make the plan a reality as early as 2018, as reported by Seattle PI.
No doubt there are some in Montana who might think a similar idea would be good for our state too. After all, the western half of Big Sky Country is quite a bit different from much of the eastern half, geographically and politically. The thought that Missoula, Bozeman and Whitefish are inherently "liberal", while Billings (along with the plains and rangeland of eastern Montana) are "conservative" is oft repeated. Sure, voting data reflects that most of our cities vote slightly more Blue than Red, but as soon as you get outside those counties it's historically a lot more evenly split, with Red getting the edge in the 2020 election.
OPINION: Splitting states because of political ideology seems like a horrible idea in general, but especially for Montana. I grew up in the Western half of the state and for the last 16 years or so I've called Billings home. Where do you think Billings would fall if they were to divide the state? Would we forced to become part of East Dakota (or whatever name they came up with)? Or would we remain Montanans? I have friends and family on both sides of the state and I think we all are proud to call ourselves Montanans, political differences aside. I love the differences found around Montana. They're a large part of what makes "the 406" such a special place. Let's never ruin it by dividing it in half.