Voting in North Idaho Goes Beyond Red Versus Blue

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Guest Opinion

When good people choose to not be involved in politics beyond voting, they leave a void that gets filled with bad actors. The thing we love most about the people of North Idaho might just be what allows the grifters, con-men, and cronies to destroy it.

That “thing” is the proclivity of people who grew up here to stay out of politics. You know the ones I am talking about – you may be one. Good Christian conservatives who are rooted in the concept that if they simply vote “R” then everything will be okay, and they can just go about their lives until the next election. They have been convinced that the candidate who has lived here the longest will do best for the community.

Understandably, many are distrustful of newcomers, fearing that they will bring to North Idaho what they are escaping from. That is a legitimate concern, but most people moving to North Idaho are loathe to bring here what they experienced in the place they left. In many cases, they are the ones fighting the hardest to preserve the small-town values that drew them here.

North Idahoans have a strong tendency to vote for and support Christian candidates, which is not a bad thing. The problem is when that quality leads to a contest between candidates to see who can “out-Christian” the others in their public declarations, regardless of how they conduct themselves out of the public’s view.

I am far more familiar with the issues and politics of Bonner County than I am with Kootenai and Boundary counties, but I would guess that many of the problems found in Bonner County are not unique. I know the good character of North Idaho citizens does not stop at county borders.

As individuals, we have very little chance, if any at all, of affecting the outcome of issues in Washington, DC. Much of what happens there has little effect on our day-to-day lives. Locally, we can make a difference, but not with voting alone. Worse, voting with less than good information does more harm than good. If your guidance comes from a recommendation list from a particular organization, you may well be voting for someone who does not have your best interest in mind.

As primary season approaches, I urge you to take a hard look at the candidates you will have to choose from. If they are up for re-election, are they out in the community listening to their constituents and bringing community concerns to their agendas? Are they transparent in their actions? Do they conduct their business in regular business meetings while avoiding special meetings and executive sessions? Do their reports consist of information of value, or are they full of virtue signaling?

If they are not incumbents, are they actively involved in the community? Do they have the kinds of experience and qualifications that would make them a good fit for the job? Are they relying on their length of residency, or trying to appear to be “more Christian” than their opponents?

Attend a few board of county commissioners meetings, as well as planning and zoning hearings, fair board meetings, and fire protection district meetings. All of these meetings give insight that you will not get from a recommended vote list from your favorite organization. Ask questions. Demand answers. Be skeptical. These folks control the purse strings of our hard-earned tax dollars, and the decisions they make affect our lives directly.

If you cannot attend in person, many meetings are available on Zoom and YouTube.

It is not just about red versus blue, but rather good versus evil. Unfortunately, evil sometimes comes disguised in red. Remember – being a longtime resident is not, in and of itself, a qualification for office, nor is having an “R” after your name if you do not actually adhere to the party platform, or the federal and state constitutions. Same goes for opening every speech with your Christian bona fides. Saying it is not a substitute for living it.

An involved and informed electorate can right the ship before it is too late.

by Dave Bowman of Bonner County, Idaho