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Op-Ed: Citizens group wants legislators to take this pledge

by MATT EDWARDS/Special to The Press
| November 10, 2021 1:00 AM

Idaho is celebrated by its citizens as the land of freedom and opportunity. A state that prides itself on rugged individualism and self-reliance. Where families value faith and practice compassion.

Idaho became this place because its citizens have built their lives by way of the natural and God-given rights, we enshrined in our founding documents. This way of life is under constant attack by those who wish to control others and enrich themselves through political corruption. The onslaught of events that occurred in 2020 pulled back the curtain to reveal an escalation of authoritarianism with zero accountability that is no longer ignorable.

As a community we witnessed elected officials jump at the chance of overstepping their authority to declare certain individuals non-essential, force businesses to lock down, and deny churches and nonprofits the ability to assemble, all while continuing with the out-of-control spending, unfair taxation, and over regulation that has been stifling our prosperity for decades.

We fell prey to an outright assault on our privacy and liberty at home, school, work, church and play. We also saw which leaders had the bravery to be the voice of the people and defend constituents. Now, an overwhelming number of citizens are waking up and are engaged like never before.

As one of these activated citizens, I am also exhausted by fighting an endless battle that leaves regular people in the dust while unaccountable and corrupt politicians do the bidding of special interests. Every time we do catch a break in Boise with a legislator defending our freedoms, our spirits are broken by another who wants to place restrictions on our sovereignty.

In light of everything we continue to witness, it is time for some disruptive accountability, it is time for… A Citizen Legislator Pledge. A set of statements inspired by the natural and God given rights that We the People declared in the Bill of Rights of the United States Constitution and the Idaho Constitution’s own Declaration of Rights. Two documents that we as a people have agreed to live by.

The pledge was drafted by the newly formed Citizens Alliance of Idaho that will seek the signature of every Idaho legislator. Upon their signing, each legislator makes it known that they will honor the pledge by only supporting bills that uphold the following statements:

1) I will vote to support our protected right to self defense

2) I will vote to support individual medical freedom and privacy

3) I will vote to support election integrity

4) I will vote to support expanding education freedom

5) I will vote to support our protected right to due process

6) I will not vote to suppress the speech of citizens or their ability to peacefully assemble

7) I will not support executive government lockdowns of businesses, churches, and nonprofit organizations

8) I will not vote for any tax or fee increase

9) I will not vote for any budget or spending bill that expands government

10) I will not vote to give any new power to the federal government

Each one of these pledge statements, whether honored or betrayed, greatly impacts the daily lives of Idahoans.

With this Pledge, Citizens Alliance of Idaho is making it known that we citizens demand our representatives prioritize their constituents above any special interest group promising them money, power or prestige.

Citizens Alliance of Idaho is not going to be a reactive organization. It will be on offense, continuously.

If any of our legislators stray from their pledge, we will activate our network of Citizen Pledge Champions to hold these legislators accountable within their districts with letters, social media posts, phone calls, petitions, memes, op-eds, and even rallies and protests.

As a last resort, we will aggressively work to replace them through the ballot box with someone else. Through active recruitment we will have no shortage of candidates waiting to pick up the torch of liberty for their constituents.

In some circles, I’ve heard it said that it had to be this way in order to wake people up. For some I imagine this to be true. Being called non-essential by your government can have quite an effect on you as your family looks to you and wonders how they’ll be able to survive. I know, that happened to me.

I am just an average citizen. I have a wonderful wife, three young children, and live among great friends in my small community. I want nothing more than to spend every day with them enjoying all that Idaho has to offer.

But just like you, we can’t pursue and enjoy happiness if the rising wave of authoritarianism threatens to wash away the very promise, we devised for ourselves and agreed to live under. There doesn’t seem to be a week that goes by without some outrageous news coming from a government agency. Be it my school board or county commission, the governor's office or some federal mandate being handed down. It is an endless barrage of edicts that interfere with all our lives, and not for the better.

We all may be tired of the fight, and ready to quit. But do not quit. Stand up and regroup. It is within this exasperated resilience that we will find the most capable, effective, and powerful people and ways to win. Maybe it all did have to happen this way.

I am asking all freedom loving Idaho citizens to join with Citizens Alliance of Idaho. To stand with The Pledge and embrace this fight. Idaho is ours to fight for and ours to win.

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Matt Edwards is executive director of Citizens Alliance of Idaho and a resident of Hayden.