I had intended to use this space to talk about upcoming legislative priorities in the Idaho Legislature. However, I feel that I cannot possibly ignore the events of this week including the unprecedented attack on our nation’s capital in an attempt to overturn an election, which will forever cast a shadow over our electoral process and, indeed, our democratic republic.
This is not the first time in the last 12 months that a seat of government has been under siege. It happened in Michigan. And, infamously, it happened right here in Idaho. Thankfully, in the case of the Boise statehouse, the end result was the wheeling of an individual out of the building in an office chair, alive and well. Tragically, the same cannot be said for Wednesday’s breach of the United States Capitol.
Wednesday night, as I was eating dinner with my sons, my oldest asked, “Why is this happening?” Honestly, I could not give him a satisfying answer. This really kept me up, and here is what I have come up with. Somewhere along the way, legislative priorities became more about job security for politicians and less about doing what is best for the people who are represented.
I would like to think that anyone who enters the political arena does so with the best of intentions. I choose to believe that our leaders plan to put the needs of the people first. It is our job as constituents to continue to focus our representatives on our needs. We are provided a powerful tool with which to keep our Legislature in line with our needs, the ballot box. Violence is not a valid option in the United States of America. Period. Our government does not bow to the will of an angry mob.
So, where do we go from here? Is our system beyond repair? Is there any way to get back on track? I know that we have been through worse, and we are still here. There is hope for a better tomorrow. I think about the words of our national anthem — through rockets and bombs exploding, our flag was still there. Our flag was there then, and our flag still flew over our Capitol on Wednesday night. Our leaders, however, should not take the strength of our democracy for granted. It is critical that our leaders learn from what is happening and begin to start to put their constituents first.
This session I urge our legislators to take what has happened with all seriousness. I hope that this will be a wake-up call, and I encourage our representatives to put the needs of Idaho first. We need real solutions, not extreme legislation. Idahoans deserve action strengthening our public education system, increasing access to health care and finally, after so many years, putting right the mistakes of the Legislature that have plagued property owners in our state.
The only legislative priority in Idaho should be the well-being of Idahoans.
David Roth is the Democratic Legislative District 33 vice chairman.