Thursday, June 13, 2024

MY TURN: Republican cancel culture exposed

by SEN. MARY SOUZA/Guest Opinion
| April 22, 2022 4:03 PM

Some small but powerful Republican groups across the state are demanding absolute loyalty to their choice of candidates for the upcoming Idaho primary. They are driving a stake through the heart of the party, creating deep divisions, and pitting friends against friends.

These groups want to determine the outcome of the election and believe that you, the voters, won’t choose correctly so they will do your thinking for you. Mandates anyone?

It’s a bit like going to a grocery store and seeing only one brand of cereal, one flavor of ice cream and one cut of meat. Certainly there are other products, but they are not carried in this store. And to make it even worse, the store owners and staff go further by denigrating any alternative products, distorting the truth, and claiming the other products are dangerous. All while they cover up any flaws or incompetence in their chosen slate.

It’s the “company store.” If you want to stay in the good graces of the company, which is our county Republican Central Committee, though there are others in the state following suit, you must go along to get along. Ours demands a pledge from every member of the committee that, as such, they will only support the chosen candidates and will not help, donate, or promote any other option. This process was wrong from the start. They want to move your vote into the hands of a few. Politburo anyone?

Yes, cancel culture has arrived right here in Kootenai County. Is it in your community too? My longtime friends on the central committee are literally afraid to talk with me. They will be ostracized if they are seen helping any alternative candidate. There are even social media monitors who know if a committee member “likes” something on a non-chosen candidate’s page. The backlash is real.

I am running for Secretary of State and have been all over Idaho for the past year, promising to make our elections more honest and fair. This control by some central committees is not fair or honest, and does not respect the voters. It is manipulative overreach and I cannot stand by and stay silent. Republican voters have a right to full information from their central committees so they can make their own best decision.

I reluctantly jumped through the vetting requirements of the Kootenai County Republican Central Committee because I have known the people for so long. But I can honestly tell you that the process was weird. The large stack of packets I provided to the full committee, containing my resume, accomplishments, and their required questionnaires, were returned to me in pristine, unread condition. They didn’t want information, they didn’t want my viewpoints. Their slate of candidates seemed pre-determined months prior to the vetting show, and I have it on good authority that they were planning their hit pieces on non-endorsed candidates way back then as well.

This editorial will no doubt garner claims of “sour grapes” because I was not chosen. Let me assure you that after the strange vetting process, I was relieved not to be endorsed by a group which so quickly forfeited their individual responsibility as Precinct Committeemen elected by their voters. They allowed themselves to be put in a political harness, eyes and minds closed, and lead down a shady path. It reminds me of the very old song by Tennessee Ernie Ford — “I owe my soul to the company store.”

These are not the beliefs or actions of my Republican Party. True Republicans believe in the rights of the individual, not control by power groups, and I am willing to bet my political future that you want your central committee to offer full information on all candidates so you can make your own voting decisions too.

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As a longtime Republican and 35-year resident of Coeur d’Alene, Sen. Mary Souza is now finishing her eighth and final year as State Senator from District 4 and is a candidate for Secretary of State.