Elections: Make Idaho Beautiful for Everyone

I marvel at Idaho in the fall—the red and orange sunsets, the perfect weather for hiking and play, the beauty of autumn mums and marigolds.  We are blessed.

I’m reminded of a year when the state essay prompt called for 8th graders to write of what they liked or didn’t like about where they lived.  Many of the papers spoke of tree houses, quiet spots by willow trees, tree houses, and little shops that sold homemade and novel items.

Others, however, wrote of graffiti and trash and boredom.  I was saddened to realize that these kids weren’t just displaying different attitudes; they lived in different worlds.

There have been major improvements since then.  In Caldwell kids run through the water fountain in front of the train station, caper in and along Indian Creek, and swim, climb and play at the Y.  I like to think most 8th graders today could write of things they like about living here.

I don’t think people look at such changes in our communities and think of them as Republican or Democratic accomplishments.  Active community members see needs, imagine a solution, and work together to implement it.

It’s sad that, at the state level, power struggles and ideology take precedence over problem solving.

Idaho can be better. Not so long ago a well-educated work force and good schools for employees’ kids attracted businesses.  We never were a high-wage state, but we were a living-wage one.

Once, in spite of low pay, seven applicants for every teaching opening was standard.  Now schools rely on long-term substitutes because no one qualified has applied.  Still, the Republican leadership sees weeding out unqualified teachers as a top priority. As they work to siphon money and control away from local districts, their promises of “responsible investment” in education ring hollow.

Idaho can again be a great place for our kids and grandkids. We need to elect pragmatists who look at the problem, study the possible solutions, and then do the right thing for our citizens and our environment.

Some political pundits claim that, unfortunately, voters who feel fear and insecurity are more apt to vote Republican. That’s why, they say, Republicans rave about Ebola, citizens forced into concentration camps, and terrorists streaming across the border.  Will people actually turn to Republicans to save us from evils—real and fantasy—as conditions get worse?

Of course, pundits are saying a lot of things these days.

Polls tend to be too favorable to Republicans because fewer Democrats have land-line phones–and polls tend to be too favorable to Democrats because Democrats are less likely to make it to the polls.  (Same pundit—different press releases.)  Similarly, people like to vote for a winner–but won’t show up if they sense an easy victory.

Republicans are working to make this election about national issues because they don’t want to talk about their records at the state level.  (Have you seen the picture of a dour and very black Obama on a recent Idaho Republican mailing? Karl Rove’s millions have apparently found Idaho.)

Voters should pay attention to the “issues” rather than the individual.  (But aren’t individual failings behind the mess in broadband funding, the useless school data system, and prison fraud?)  We need leaders who take responsibility.

A punditry of my own–voting adds years to your life.  Did you see the chart in Thursday’s paper? Fully 43.8% of the state’s 20-somethings–but only 10.5% of the 70-somethings–don’t vote. Doesn’t it follow that non-voting hurts longevity?  Okay, I know correlation doesn’t mean causation, but why take the chance?

Vote as if your life depended on it.

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