Monday, July 15, 2024

EDITORIAL: That's not real unity, Idaho GOP

| June 19, 2024 1:00 AM

One way to bolster unity is by finding a big enough chunk of common ground for all the participants to stand upon.

But that’s hard work. It requires something in diminishing supply these days: compromise.

Another way to build unity is to shrink that piece of common ground until there’s room for only true believers. Then you insist that little circle of common ground is actually a continent.

Welcome to the Idaho GOP, who unveiled their brand of unity during last weekend’s convention.

This gathering landed in Coeur d’Alene, where the quest for actual unity among all state Republicans ended in a small hallway space where journalists were sequestered while convention delegates conducted their business in secrecy.

As if to emphasize how critically important it was that rank-and-file Republicans around the state be shut out of the proceedings, the Idaho GOP hired armed security to keep an eye on the handful of journalists who otherwise might have shone light in darker corners.

This year’s convention broke with tradition in that journalists weren’t even allowed to cover the general sessions. While that was clearly meant as a thumb in the media’s eye, it translated more accurately as a Three Stooges eye poke to the 585,200 Idaho Republicans who did not attend the convention.

By shaping the state party platform in secret and sharing only the finished product openly and with joyful refrains of unity, party officials didn’t need the media to relay the convention’s central message. It was this:

Never mind how we arrived where we did. It is enough for you to know what we decided because, well, because we know best.

Nobody questions the right of a party’s officials to choose their leadership and fashion a platform that matches their party’s priorities and vision. What’s questionable is why you would hire armed security to shut out hundreds of thousands of constituents who want to understand.

What other ideas were presented and alternatives considered? Whose arguments held sway? Whose were muted? How vigorous was the debate leading to the ultimate decisions?

These are just a few of the questions 585,200 Idaho Republicans will never have answered. How their party decided, for instance, that the state should no longer fund most higher education will remain a mystery. Remember, party leaders know best.

The convention’s keynote speaker, former Arizona gubernatorial candidate Kari Lake, called for party unity in her Friday night address. She asked, can’t we all get along for five months, just long enough to put Donald Trump back in the White House?

By shrinking the plot of common ground and hiding any hint of disunity, Idaho GOP’s leaders gave us their answer.