Tuesday, February 20, 2024

OPINION: Democrats support diversity that doesn’t damage

by EVAN KOCH/More Perfect Union
| January 11, 2023 1:00 AM

Democrats accept diversity. Our understanding is that individuals in our party range from Progressive Liberals to disaffected Republicans. We recognize that no one view is always correct.

Democrats come in different colors, we are young and old, male and female, and LGBTQ+. Some of us are Idaho natives and some are recent newcomers. Our diversity abounds, and it makes us stronger.

Republicans, on the other hand, seem very uncomfortable with diversity. After a tense and chaotic week of fighting and bargaining, and 15 rounds of voting, they elected a Speaker of the House. A vocal, powerful and stubborn Republican faction stalled the work of Congress. If they bungled this simple first step of governance, imagine how they will deal with more complex legislative issues.

Even at a local level, Republicans view diversity as a handicap. At its recent convention in Boise, the Idaho Republican Party wanted to strip the Idaho Young Republicans, the College Republicans and the Idaho Republican Women’s Federation of their voice on the state executive committee.

In another severe rule change, local GOP Central Committees want to decide if a candidate is “conservative enough” to run as a Republican (Rule 2022-04). That’s right, Brent Regan and the KCRCC could “determine the political affiliation of candidates filing or declaring intent to file as Republican Party candidates” for any state or federal office.

These GOP political purity tests extend to voters too. The Idaho GOP wants to exclude anyone currently registered as Democrat, Independent, or Constitution Party from registering as a Republican. “They must wait 12 months from Dec. 30th of the year they wish to affiliate in order to affiliate with the Republican Party.”

These actions resemble their “vetting” of countywide candidates, and make it clear that the GOP is only interested in ideological purity.

Democrats, on the other hand, remain committed to shared values and the American promise of an equal and kind-hearted opportunity for all.

Our party platform begins with an invitation designed to welcome people: “The Idaho Democratic Party is a gathering place for Idahoans from all across our great state who believe Idaho can do better.”

The Idaho Democratic Party Platform outlines supportive stances on education, climate change, and gun violence. Each section of the platform approaches policy from an inclusive and human centered perspective.

This past weekend the Republicans passed one resolution after another that aimed to strong-arm voters and party volunteers into compliance. The following was added to the party rules:

“The Idaho Republican State Central Committee, Legislative District Committees, and County Central Committees are hereby empowered to call into question the conduct of a Republican elected official … provide censure and guidance upon the first determination of substantive violations; and for any substantive violations by the same elected official … may remove Party support and prohibit the use of Republican Party identifiers … for a period of five (5) years.”

In other words: if you step beyond our line you are no longer one of us.

Idaho Democrats treat Idahoans in a kinder, gentler way.

At the end of each weekly Democratic Club meeting, our cheery host signs off with, “Be Safe, Be Kind, Be a Democrat.”

Our Central Committee secretary signs every email with this quote, “Three things in human life are important. The first is to be kind. The second is to be kind. The third is to be kind." — Henry James (1843-1916).

A commitment to human kindness, decency, and diversity should form the foundation of everything we do. That’s how we build a more perfect union.

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Evan Koch is chairman of the Kootenai County Democrats.