Idaho Democrats are proud to be a “big tent” party, welcoming Idahoans from all walks of life, all across the state. We were even prouder to reach a critical milestone this week when we appointed county chairs to the few remaining open seats. This took diligent effort, but it is important to us that every Idahoan has access to a local Democratic Party, regardless of whether they live in a county with 800 residents or 500,000.
Our expanding reach stands in stark contrast to the actions of the Idaho Republican Party at their summer meeting. They considered a slew of anti-democratic proposals to consolidate power and limit voter participation, but one particular order of business brought their infighting to light. It was a resolution to purge the leaders of the Idaho Young Republicans, Idaho College Republicans, and the Federation of Republican Women from their executive committee.
A former leader of the Idaho Young Republicans made a public plea to stop this resolution, calling out the “authoritarian tactics, bullying, and intimidation” he sees in his party. Five Republican legislators wrote a letter explaining how this move would repel young Idahoans. The chair of Idaho’s Federation of Republican Women shared that women are the engine of the party, volunteering nearly 44,000 hours in the past two years. It didn’t matter. In an overwhelming 137-79 vote, the party stripped these groups of their executive committee voting rights.
This new Idaho Republican Party is not interested in expanding and shows the danger of one-party rule. Republican leaders assume they can maintain their majority control while shrinking the party to match their extreme views. One far-right legislator took to social media to tout the “purging” of the party, celebrating the removal of Republicans who think independently rather than blindly embracing every word of the party platform.
What’s in the party platform they put above all else? Some of the most extreme positions Idaho has ever seen: criminalizing abortion as murder even when the patient will die without one, moving our currency back to the gold and silver standard (a policy that would tank our economy), and repealing the 17th Amendment which would end the direct election of U.S. Senators.
Voters might not usually follow intra-party politics, but they should know about brazen actions with real effects. Such resolutions are designed to intimidate Republican lawmakers and keep them in line, listening to party bosses rather than the voters who elected them. I see this in the increasingly extreme votes GOP legislators feel they have to take to avoid disciplinary action by their party.
Idaho voters who put Republicans in office should be asking who their elected representatives are really representing.
Lauren Necochea, Idaho Democratic Party Chair