Sometimes people need to get angry to become involved. For too long the rapidly shrinking middle class has been sitting back enjoying the “good” life of homeownership, sending the kids to college and comfort that this way of life would go on.
I have been there myself. For many years my life has been consumed with family, helping others and having a few hobbies. As I noted the political arena and what was happening, I would simply ask myself if I was affected today — if not I went on my merry way. This changed in 2010 when I realized that the decisions being made in Boise (and Washington, D.C.) were affecting the lives of those who seemingly had no voice, such as, the elderly, the children, the disabled and, yes, the middle class. Much of what was happening consisted of longterm effects, changes that would cost more in the future and those with influence were getting preferential treatment.
My involvement in the politics of Idaho has been an amazing adventure. However, the most exciting is the activity that is occurring with the people in Idaho. There have been four Town Hall meetings in Pocatello in the last few months with all being very well attended and people are speaking out. The people attending the Town Halls are not the radicals, but everyday working folks, just like you and me. Great things begin to happen when the informal conversations begin, ideas begin to flow and the base for change gets established. This is the purpose for having these meetings. As elected representatives the Democrats want to hear what the people want. After all, we are the people’s party. We are there to protect the children, the elderly, the environment and the American way of life.
At our latest Town Hall there was much discussion on the path the Legislature was taking during this last session. Worries about the surprise education bills and the methods utilized to get them passed, and the possibility of the referendums on these same bills succeeding. While we are talking about our children, concern has been expressed regarding the child care licensing and the relaxing of the restrictions statewide. Some cities have more restrictive ordinances, but outside city limits the child care industry can just go by the state requirements. The inability to pass an anti-texting bill was brought out by several attendees. Of course, health care, namely affordable health care, is a concern of most at the meeting.
Much was said about the Republican drive to eliminate the influence of organized labor from Idaho. Senate Bill 1134 which restricts some activities was deemed unconstitutional by Idaho’s attorney general, but it passed both the Senate and House and now is being challenged in the courts because it does violate the constitution. So, Idaho will now spend taxpayer dollars defending this unconstitutional bill. Such legislation makes no sense.
Another interesting comment is that “environment” is not a dirty word. We all enjoy our pristine areas in Idaho. This is a great draw for tourism and is the reason that many of us live in Idaho. We need our clean water, clean air and have sustainable recreation and farming activities to support our people. Concerns about the “fracturing” type drilling that possibly may be done in the near future in the Payette area to make it easier to find natural gas has been a topic of great discussion.
Most interesting of all the discussions was about what a Democrat represents. Too often the “blue” party has been defined by the “red” party. Many accusations of “tax and spend” have been attributed to the Democrats. This has been done nationally as well as in statewide political arenas with little argument from the Democrats even though this is far from the truth. Why? I have no idea, but the definition of what Idaho Democrats stand for was put very nicely in this last meeting. It was agreed that a Democrat is a “FAMILY VALUES PARTY” with concerns about our children, education, the elderly and those who cannot speak for themselves. Additionally, the Democrats fight for good jobs, fair wages and a life that may be quickly disappearing.
Our regular folks are getting involved and this is great. After all, we are family.
Roy Lacey, of Pocatello, is a member of the Idaho House of Representatives.