Friday, December 08, 2023

OPINION: Mission field politics

by DANIEL SILVER/Guest Opinion
| September 6, 2023 1:00 AM

A few years ago, I did an experiment. I had 10 people review different policies about key issues facing our state. There was one condition — they couldn’t see who the legislation was written by. Interestingly, most people preferred the same bills. Once completed, I shared which legislator wrote them. Participants were surprised they voted for something submitted by “that person.” I ran the same experiment but allowed participants to see who drafted the bill. Sadly, almost no one agreed on a single bill.

What the experiment showed me is that people make the best decisions when they are not jaded by their preconceptions.

There is a rising trend in Idaho of people who are unwilling to work together for the betterment of our citizens. Some even make money intentionally trying to cause strife. I once had a county chairman tell me the best way to raise money was to go negative. He said, “Make them afraid and tell them who to blame.” I am sad to say that it has worked for his cause, but Idaho suffers as a result.

The Idaho I know isn’t something to be feared. It is a beacon of light — which is why so many relocate here. I recognize that some fear we can become California, but they fail to realize that we aren't California. We are Idaho. True, we don’t want California’s policies, but we don’t want their tactics either.

Real leadership isn’t writing a weekly article blaming others. It isn’t doxing people behind unnamed social media accounts. It isn’t changing rules to force those you disagree with into submission. That is what happens in China and Russia.

We may share the same conservative beliefs, but the way those beliefs are pursued varies greatly. If not careful, those intent on purging others will become so full of their own supposed virtue that they alienate many and become insignificant to our fellow Idahoans. They lose elections.

Now to be clear, it is also not compromising your deeply held beliefs.

Changing someone’s mind is never easy. It takes time to build a relationship. The people we disagree with are not our enemy. They are the mission field of hearts and minds to be won. They are those we should be engaging in hopes of persuading. Remember 1 Corinthians 16:13-14, “stand firm in the faith; be courageous; be strong; do everything in love.”

We also need to solve real problems in common sense ways. And by working together, we find small things we agree on, which opens the possibility to agree on larger things.

Here is a recent example with the so-called “library bill.” No rational person wants sexually explicit materials in the children’s section of a library. And yet no rational person believes jailing librarians, banning books, and closing libraries is the right solution either. Rather than focus on the extremes, the better question is “How do we make these materials hidden from unsuspecting children, while still protecting free speech?” Let’s put common sense boundaries on materials, but also trust parents to do their job as parents.

I know many are fed up with the tactics of some, but recognize those groups are a vocal minority who hide their real names.

There are still many good people who don’t play those childish games. We don’t spend time trolling on social media worrying about page views. For us, winning means the betterment of Idaho. We work with whoever and wherever we can to solve problems facing our communities. We don’t let the 10% we disagree on stop us from making a 90% improvement. We focus on ensuring as many Idahoans have an opportunity for their voice to be heard. It doesn’t matter if it is a local election or voting for president of the United States.

If you want to change culture, you don’t give up. You must do it from the inside. Get involved. Run for a precinct committee role, become a candidate for city council. Get out and vote in every election. We should have more than 15% of Idahoans vote in local elections.

Remember, ordinary individuals can make extraordinary impacts if they get involved. Now go make your voice heard.

God Bless Idaho.

• • •

Daniel Silver is the 1st Vice Chairman for the Idaho Republican Party. He is the former Chairman for Idaho Young Republicans and former Regional Director for the Young Republican National Federation.

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