by Judy Ferro
“Is the R enough?”
That question—posed by Randy Stapilus in a recent column—is a central one this election year.
Pit a Republican with no real qualifications against a Democrat with a good track record in civic activities and business or education, and the R is often enough. But what if the Republican has some serious negatives?
This year we have Republican politicians running who have made bad investments with the state’s money, been convicted of domestic violence, overcharged the state for expenses, or failed to pay their bills.
Too many voters shrug it off as though saying, “Yah, he’s a terrible quarterback, but he’s our quarterback.” A recent Stanford survey found that 40% of voters practice extreme loyalty to a party that they disagree with on the issues –like Republicans I know who fight for public schools and a decent minimum wage.
I understand people being loyal to the Broncos or the Vandals; sports are sports. But to continue supporting politicians who underfund our schools and send our economy to the cellar? Baffling.
If only voters would regard selecting a candidate as similar to hiring a symphony member. Pick someone who will contribute a tone and quality all their own, but still work well with others. And don’t choose all brass or percussion—create a balance with all the tension and give-and-take that entails.
Idaho has had politicians like that. Republicans like Phil Batt, Darrel Bolz, and Jerry Evans and Democrats like Cecil Andrus and Marilyn Howard worked tirelessly with others to make Idaho better.
We get too many Republican candidates who, as one did last week, confidently drag out the “liberal bogeyman” as though it guarantees all the votes needed: “My opponent is a liberal.” And worse, “If you like Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid, then vote for my opponent. If not, vote for me.”
Republicans make the same accusations about one another. Apparently, if you’re not to the right of 80% of our very conservative state, you qualify as a liberal The label applies if you want to see our kids in classes of 25 students or less, our public colleges affordable, our roads and bridges safe, our public lands preserved, or our food and water free of toxins.
Such vapid attacks signal a determination to not play well with others. When, after six years, an Idaho Republican senator still can’t work out a compromise with a fellow Idaho Republican senator, someone is being too stubborn. And when a Republican Congressman votes against his colleagues in the Republican-controlled House time after time, he does Idaho no good.
Is the R enough?
By and large, it has been for the last 30 years.
Things are different this year.
The Republican state party is so divided that their convention collapsed without adopting a platform or electing its leadership.
Up to $80 million of state money has been lost in bad investments.
The Federal government is withholding $14.5 million in payments for school broadband while the courts decide if the contract favoring a large corporate donor is illegal—a contract which was renewed a year early without legislators being notified.
The $42 million invested in a school data system hasn’t given Idaho a workable system.
The $75 million experiment with a private prison system was a fiasco that is still under investigation.
And lawsuit-happy Republicans continue to waste our tax money on various schemes.
And Mississippians discussing schools or wages can now thank God for Idaho.
Is the R still enough? In just over three weeks we will know.