The end of a year offers a moment to take stock of our progress to date and our vision for the future. As I reflect on the future Democrats want for Idahoans — thriving Main Streets with economic opportunity, quality education, personal freedoms, and an affordable path to raising the next generation — it’s clear that supermajority rule is holding us back.
Idaho Democrats are rolling up their sleeves to repair our political system by rebuilding our party. This year, we established local Democratic committees in all 44 counties and won 73% of the 65 local races where Democrats made endorsements and deployed campaign tactics. Focused candidate recruitment has positioned us to contest more races in 2024 than we have in years.
Idaho’s Democratic lawmakers are also making an impact. We delivered critical wins by blocking school vouchers, stopping a bill creating bounties on libraries, protecting Medicaid expansion, enacting scholarships for in-demand careers, creating incentives for nurses serving rural Idaho, and safeguarding voting rights. Nevertheless, many votes were too close for comfort.
It’s critical we elect more Democrats to make life better for Idahoans and combat political dysfunction. I will never forget the words of a very conservative colleague who congratulated me on becoming chair of the Idaho Democratic Party. In spite of our policy disagreements, the legislator sincerely wished me luck and, motioning to the House Chamber, declared, “Because this isn’t healthy.”
Indeed, when one party holds 82% of the seats, there is little accountability and compromise, which are necessary for a healthy democracy.
In the absence of accountability, the extremists who once operated at the fringes of the Idaho Republican Party have taken the helm. Local party tribunals are pushing GOP politicians deeper into extremism by punishing those who stray from their platform — a platform that ranges from dangerous fringe ideas that would destabilize our financial system, like returning to gold and silver standards, to outright cruelty, like murder charges for abortion even when the patient faces certain death.
In 2024, Democrats will be reaching out to voters, offering an alternative to this extreme agenda. We hope to have openhearted conversations about the central issues that unite us. Voters who get to know their local Democratic candidates will find ample common ground. Polling confirms that voters agree with Idaho Democrats on the issues that affect you daily: tax policies should be fair to regular Idahoans rather than heaping more benefits onto the wealthy and well-connected, public dollars belong in public schools, Medicaid should be strong, politicians shouldn’t interfere in our most intimate decisions, and life must be affordable for working families.
As we welcome 2024, I’m hopeful Idahaoans can come together to reject GOP extremism and build the future people deserve.
Idaho Democratic Party Chair