Pandemic no time for Republican rule

Remember when, just over a month ago, we dreamt that the current pandemic would be under control by August?  

People looked forward to school resuming in August. Sponsors were cancelling or postponing June and July events, but the Eastern and Western Idaho state fairs, scheduled for late August and early September, seemed safe.

New reports of coronavirus cases in Idaho numbered over 30 on only one day from April 21 to May 21. Last week they numbered over 200 on three days as the U.S. total hit 44,000 Friday.         

Bars in Boise have had to close for a second time, but not those in neighboring counties, leaving a lot of people wondering which counties will set new records next.  

Schools are striving to find ways to get Internet access into thousands of students’ homes this fall.

The Idaho State Democratic Party is polling members to see if they want to revise the platform during face-to-face or virtual meetings–or simply re-endorse the 2018 document.  

And Republicans seem out to prove they shouldn’t be responsible for the general good.   

To start off, the Trump Administration filed an 82-page brief asking the Supreme Court to invalidate the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare. In the midst of this pandemic, the nation’s top Republicans are attempting to take away subsidies for insurance or benefits from Medicaid expansion from 23 million Americans previously covered plus millions more who are losing employment-based insurance. 

Apparently, the lives at stake are less important to the current administration than wiping out every vestige of the Obama Administration.  

In his defense, President Trump dragged out his tired claim that Republicans have a much better plan. In truth, the Republican members of Congress remain deeply divided over whether a government plan should exist.  

Here in Idaho, Governor Little chose to defy a direct order by a Federal judge to give Reclaim Idaho a chance to complete signature gathering stopped by the State’s stay-home order in March. The stalled initiative would have funded an additional $170 million for Idaho’s education by increasing taxes on corporations and high-income individuals. 

Judge B. Lynn Winmill said that, after allowing various applications of electronic signature gathering for 20 years, the state was wrong not to allow Reclaim Idaho to do so.

Idaho replied that following the court’s order would inflict “significant, irreparable injury” and “impinge on the state’s power to control its elections.”   

Obviously, Gov. Little has enough Republicans angry at him over the stay-home orders without dealing fairly with an initiative. And if Republican legislators wanted to improve education funding by taxing the rich, they would have done so by now. (Spokane’s top teacher salary is now about $25,000 a year more than Boise’s.) 

And then delegates at the Idaho Republican Convention in Nampa over the weekend made it pretty obvious that they do not represent Idaho people or their values. 

More attention was given to supporting Israel than to education, jobs, and health combined.     

Republicans elected as their chair Tom Luna, author of the ‘Luna Laws’ which stripped teachers of rights to negotiate for students and which Idaho voters rejected by up to 67%. There’s no sign that Luna has changed. On the contrary, his nomination included praise of those laws.

For another, delegates gave serious attention to defying the Supreme Court’s one-man, one-vote rule and giving every county just one state senator. That is, the 1,100 inhabitants of Camas County would have the same strength in the Idaho Senate as the 480,000 in Ada County or the 230,000 in Canyon County.  

I’m fairly certain this isn’t the best of all possible worlds.

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