Monday, December 11, 2023

OPINION: RINOs and taxes

by PATRICK WHALEN/Guest Opinion
| May 10, 2023 1:00 AM

I read the April 23 news story written by Bill Buley about the town hall held recently by our North Idaho contingent of legislators. It makes a couple of points that are worth exploring.

First, the North Idaho legislative contingent seems to see itself at war (“We have identified the enemy,” “They are Marxist Democrats who have run as Republicans,” RINOs need to be exposed “for what they are”).

I am a Republican, and always have been. I don’t personally see myself at war with anyone, although I do believe the extreme left and the extreme right pose a myriad of problems for those of us who want a reasonable amount of effective government.

No doubt that today we have an unreasonable amount of national government that seems drunk or insane in its spending, its overreach about its role in American life, and its proper boundaries. No sane person would argue our national government is particularly effective or free of graft.

But locally we do need things like clean water supplies, sewage systems, good roads, good schools, an effective legal system, law enforcement, and a social safety net to protect the elderly, incompetent and disabled. We need local community colleges and local libraries; we need local public health systems. It is really nice to have a good hospital and health care system. It is also nice to have a thriving local economy built on the efforts of small entrepreneurs working within a high trust system of contracts and legal enforcement.

To the extent that I am at “war” with the extremists in my party, it is due to the fact that they relentlessly work to use fear and intimidation to winnow out those people capable of independent thought from their group. They use a political playbook first developed in the early 1900s by Marx and Lenin. These are the classic communist party strategies and tactics now so widely adopted by the extreme left and the extreme right. Check your history of socialist and communist countries to see how these things end. If they persist on this path, we are heading toward a huge backlash and ultimately, a Democrat blue state.

Second, the North Idaho legislative contingent seems to want to eliminate levies and property taxes (“What we need to do is eliminate levies,” and property taxes are “the worst tax we have,” and “I would like to find a way to get away from it completely”).

Sounds good so far, right? I can find common ground on reducing or eliminating taxes, but we still do need to fund our local schools and other governmental activities that we all agree are needed. Anyone want to eliminate our sewage treatment facilities? How about our system of wells that provide drinking water? Anyone really want to live without law enforcement?

School levies in particular strike me as a dumb and ineffective way to fund our school systems. Forcing the school system to come hat in hand every two years to get basic funding seems absurd. There must be a better way and I hope our North Idaho legislative contingent comes up with a better funding mechanism. I won’t bet that they will however, it seems more likely that they intend to simply end public education. Why? I don’t know.

Of course, if they want to argue that we simply should not have a local community college or a K-12 school system, they should say so. I don’t believe the majority of North Idahoans would agree, but let’s have the debate. For now, I will support the school levies.

I am not convinced by the shouting at me that I am somehow a ‘Republican In Name Only’ (RINO). I am a Republican who recognizes we need limited government and that our current national government is in crisis and has drifted very far from our founding documents. That is a fight worth having, and I appreciate the efforts of our local legislators in that fight, but the path they are on is counterproductive and certainly destructive of our community and its institutions, aka NIC.

We need the people in the center to come together to protect our capitalist way of life grounded in individual freedoms granted to us by God and not by our fellow citizens. You remember, our inalienable rights. We can do that in North Idaho, there are many more of us than the extremists. Get out and vote.

• • •

Patrick Whalen, Rotarian and founding member of North Idaho Republicans.

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