We in the West did not vote for an impudent man who disdains scientific evidence — and thinks the “truth” is whatever he happens to tweet each morning.
By any measure, the Pacific edge of the United States did not vote for Donald Trump in November 2016. We voted overwhelmingly for Hillary Clinton — and thus for continuing the policies of President Barack Obama.
In the five states abutting the Pacific Ocean — Alaska, California, Hawaii, Oregon and Washington — Clinton clobbered Trump by more than 5.1 million votes and beat him by a massive electoral margin of 78 to 3. Including the Mountain States in the mix, she still won by more than 4.6 million votes and by 98 to 30 electoral votes. No matter how you count, this president (who lost nationally by 3 million popular votes) finished a distant second on our side of the Rockies.
The far western United States did not vote for the partisan train wreck gripping the nation’s capital. Nor did we vote for an authoritarian president ruling by decree who attempts to bar Muslims from entering the country and wants to waste billions of taxpayer dollars building a wall along our Mexican border.
We did not vote to reject or dilute the popular, effective environmental policies established under eight previous presidents dating back decades to the origins of the Environmental Protection Agency. Nor did we vote to withdraw the nation from the landmark Paris Climate Agreement.
We did not vote to throw open our pristine national monuments to oil and gas exploration by dramatically constricting their boundaries. Nor did we vote to allow drilling for oil in waters off our Pacific Coast or in Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
We did not vote for a racist president who calls Africa a “shithole,” and some white supremacists “very fine people.” Nor did we vote for someone who denigrated women or belittled a Vietnam War hero.
We did not vote for an impudent man who disdains scientific evidence — and thinks the “truth” is whatever he happens to tweet each morning. Nor did we vote for someone who butchers the English language so exhaustively that it has become nearly impossible to find common ground with our fellow citizens.
We did not vote for a potentially treasonous tyrant who admires Vladimir Putin and other dictators, threatening democracy around the world. We reject much of what has happened this past year and is now being decided in the nation’s capital.
Therefore, as democracy ebbs in the rest of the United States — except perhaps in a few New England, mid-Atlantic and Midwestern enclaves — it has become our patriotic duty to rescue it. The Western states in particular, from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Coast and Hawaii, need to step forward as the bulwark of democracy if we are to rescue the American Republic in which it has thrived for more than 24 decades ago.
Fortunately, this rescue process has begun. California has chosen not to help federal customs agents round up undocumented immigrants — as have most of Oregon and Washington. Local and state governments from Bellingham to Longview to Oakland have halted or impeded the hundreds of trainloads annually of coal and oil that fossil-fuel companies headquartered in Texas and Missouri want to push through our neighborhoods, polluting our air and water so they can garner profits in Asian markets.
Meanwhile, the governors of California, Colorado, Hawaii, Oregon, and Washington have joined those of 11 other states in the U.S. Climate Alliance, pledging that their states will continue upholding U.S. commitments in the Paris accord. And Oregon and Washington are working toward joining California in putting prices on greenhouse-gas emissions to counter federal inaction.
The western United States — especially the deep-blue Pacific Coast states — is beginning to coalesce into a distinct polity acting independently of the federal government, forming a powerful economic bloc that cannot be ignored. California, Washington and Oregon together constitute the fifth largest economy in the world, and the Western states the third largest, encompassing much if not most of the nation’s mineral wealth and high-tech industry.
And we make up a far more politically coherent entity, in stark contrast to some of the deeply polarized nation east of the Rockies. If democracy is to survive in the United States, the rescue process will have to begin here.
Perhaps it already has.