Don’t let Republicans continue their reign of mediocracy

September 20, 2018

Bert Marley

On Thursday, Sept. 13, the Idaho State Journal published an opinion piece by Idaho Republican Party Chairman Jonathan Parker called “Idaho voters face stark choices in November election.”

Mr. Parker is trying to convince us that all is well in Idaho and we should all support the stagnant status quo. In the apparent era of outlandish claims and promotion of unverified facts, his op-ed fits right in.

It is misrepresentative at its best and outright false at its worst. However, Mr. Parker was right about one thing: Idahoans do face stark choices in this election year.

Parker claims Republican values “reflect the values most Idahoans.” But do they really?

Idaho Republican leadership, which Parker touts as good and successful, supports tax breaks for the wealthy and economic policies that will only increase Idaho’s wage gap, presides over one of the poorest health care systems in the country and openly opposes Medicaid expansion, which would save thousands of Idahoans’ lives and benefit the economy. These are Republican values.

Instead of admitting that some of our people are in serious economic, educational and physical distress and working to change it, Republicans take personal offense to the acknowledgement of any problems and deny they exist, for fear of losing re-election.

“Voters can see for themselves the benefits of Republican leadership in Idaho, and proof that Republican ideas in action work,” Parker wrote.

He’s right — Idahoans aren’t blind, and they can see the damaging effects that Republican leadership has had on our state.

He went on to list “facts” and statistics about Idaho that are meant to prove just how great Republican leadership is.

I, too, could make a list of “alternative facts” that lean in our favor, but instead, just for the heck of it, I’ll list my sources with my claims.

Parker stated — with no attribution — that Idaho has the sixth-lowest poverty rate in the nation. Was the party’s fact-checker out on sick leave that day?

Idaho’s overall poverty rate is 12.8 percent, ranking us 25th in the nation, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Fifteen percent of Idaho’s children live below the poverty line.

Parker mentioned that Idaho is first in the nation for employment gains. Idahoans are working, but their wages are often not enough to live on, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

Idaho is 43rd in the nation for teacher compensation. Teacher pay is comparable to states with teacher strikes, according to the Idaho Center for Fiscal Policy. Republicans have been promising to fix this for years, but haven’t got the job done yet.

Is this the kind of leadership we want to continue to elect? The stark difference between Idaho’s two main parties is less flattering to Republicans than they think it is.

If Republicans are continually and perpetually elected, Idaho will remain in the current state we’re in. Our workers will keep getting paid less than what they deserve, special interests will be placed above the will of the people, our education system will remain at the bottom of many lists, elections will not be open or fair and public lands most likely won’t in stay public hands.

Idaho Republicans will never be satisfied with their amount of time in power. They would remain in office, continuing their reign of mediocracy, forever if they could. It’s truly time for some positive change.

So yes, Mr. Parker, I agree with you. Idahoans do face a stark contrast this election year, and this is a “once-in-a-generation election that will impact Idahoans for decades to come,” as you put it. I couldn’t have said it better myself.

A former state legislator from McCammon, Bert Marley is the chairman of the Idaho Democratic Party.

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