Early last week a columnist called me from the Seattle Times. Since I write a political column, he wanted to know why Enumclaw and Black Diamond were the only cities in all of King County where voters chose Donald Trump over Hillary Clinton. Answering that question will reveal a great deal about the thinking of people who live in these two cities.
First the statistics: 48.7 percent of Enumclaw voters chose Trump over Clinton, who received 43.8 percent. In Black Diamond, the numbers were 49.5 percent for Trump versus 42.3 percent for Clinton. Conversely, moving toward Seattle, Clinton won handily. In Covington, it was 50-40 for Clinton. In Kent, Clinton won 61-32. Seattle gave a whooping 87 percent of its vote to Clinton and only 8 percent to Trump. There was a nearly 74 percent voter turnout in King County. Countywide, 72 percent of the votes were for Clinton versus nearly 28 percent for Trump.
The columnist wanted to know why I thought these two towns were so different from the rest of the County of King. First of all, of course, we are rural with a mentality differing greatly from the more progressive Seattle. I told the columnist I had seen just a few signs for Trump around Enumclaw where I live, and they were very large, but I struggled to remember any signs for Clinton in the whole area. The lack of signs belied deep feelings on the part of residents.
I had talked to only a few residents who favored Donald Trump in town, partly because I did not want any arguments about so touchy a topic. The towns were very outwardly quiet and peaceful in regard to the presidential election. This is partly due to confirmation bias where different factions have their own sources of information and do not search out those who disagree, especially about such an inflammatory topic as who the next president should be.
Those Trump supporters I did talk to understood Trump’s outrageous statements and questionable character but, without exception, they also believed Hillary Clinton was much worse. Emails and Benghazi and the Clinton Foundation were examples they gave. They were also deeply concerned about Obamacare, the mess at the Veterans’ Administration, creeping government controls and the possibility of another liberal Supreme Court justice. A major change was needed in America, even if there was a danger that Trump might be a loose cannon. Things needed to be shaken up, no matter the risk. Trump gave them hope.
Enumclaw and Black Diamond supported Trump over Clinton because of the dramatic social changes that have occurred over the past eight years. This state was one of the first to vote for gay marriage. When President Obama lit the White House in rainbow colors after the Supreme Court ruled in favor of gay marriage, it must have rattled and angered many conservatives in the area. Having a black president followed by a woman candidate may have been too much social change for the some of the largely conservative residents of Enumclaw and Black Diamond.
People come here to live in order to find peace and quiet and a sense of community away from all the revolutionary ideas found closer to Seattle. They come here to raise their children and their emphasis is upon family values – a conservative perspective.
Many in this southern part of King County are conservative Christians and there was a strong reaction against legalization of marijuana in the state. Many people spoke before the Enumclaw City Council strongly objecting to allowing licensing of pot stores in town. The council listened and ruled that no marijuana was to be sold by Enumclaw merchants. Just across the White River in Buckley, there are two recreational marijuana stores, showing a different perspective to the drug.
Voting for Donald Trump meant turning back the clock on social change and “Making America Great Again.” It indicated a desire to restore American values as defined by conservatives. It signified the continued dominance of white America as different ethnic and religious immigrants flood into the county and the country.
In this election, Enumclaw and Black Diamond were two red islands in a blue sea of liberalism that agreed with the mood of American voters nationwide.