OpEd: Western Democrats Embody Idaho Values

An OpEd that ran in the Idaho State Journal last week:

by James D. Ruchti
Chairman, Bannock County Democrats

Mark Twain once said: “Noise proves nothing. Often a hen who has merely laid an egg cackles as if she has laid an asteroid.” If you read these pages [in the Idaho State Journal] in recent weeks, you saw the Republican leadership’s outcry over the visit of Senator Harry Reid to Pocatello.

Unfortunately, they refused to debate the substance of his message. Instead, they attacked the messenger. Democrats from the West like Senator Reid worry the Republican leadership. They treat him like the enemy because they fear that if you get to know Senator Reid and other Western Democrats, you will see they embody Idaho values.

Although not from here, Senator Reid was raised like you and me –- to value hard work, to take responsibility and to act independently. Like Senator Reid, Idaho’s most successful leaders had those same attributes. Consider Senator Frank Church, Governor Cecil Andrus and Representative Richard Stallings. Like Senator Reid, they could say things with which you disagreed, but you knew these Western Democrats shared your values. You knew they stood for something and were in your corner fighting for you and your family.

Democrats from the West have the same values today. They believe citizens have to take responsibility for their own futures and for making their communities better. They believe government should provide opportunities and tools for citizens to improve their lives. That is why Western Democrats support making higher education more affordable, raising the minimum wage and providing funding to improve the quality of education.

Western Democrats understand government must be responsive to the will of the people. That is why Democrats in the state legislature are working with moderate Republicans to provide property tax relief. Governor Kempthorne, unfortunately, is passing up the opportunity to lead on this issue. If you want the people to trust you with their vote, you cannot treat their problems as a smorgasbord where you pick and choose the issues with which you are comfortable. You take everything on the table.

Western Democrats also believe government has an obligation to promote equal opportunity for all while granting special privileges to none. Government cannot be effective if the people do not have faith in its integrity and fairness. That is why Senator Malepaeai and Senator Marley stood firm against corruption when Senator Jack Noble of Kuna violated the state senate’s ethics rules last year. He resigned shortly thereafter.

Don’t let the Republican leadership’s cackling alarm you. Western Democrats are not the enemy. They are ready to lead Idaho and the nation into a bright future.

James Ruchti is a local attorney and the Chair of the Bannock County Democrats. You can visit the Bannock County Democrats website at www.bannockdemocrats.com for more information about how to get involved.