District 1 Republicans persist in dysfunction

By Mike Weland

The Legislative District 1 Republican Central Committee will meet at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, December 6, in the Sandpoint VFW Hall, 1325 Pine Street, and as has become the norm of a once proud party now following and demanding adherence to new and tacit revisions of the definition of the word “conservative,” the agenda lacks anything of substance that might benefit constituents and the public interest.

Instead, it follows the pattern set by the stalwart conservatives in the United States House of Representatives and Idaho GOP Chairwoman Dorothy Moon; two parts threat, four parts bluster and zero parts legitimate or productive party business.

It seems there are now three separate and mutually exclusive GOP definitions of “conservative” now in use:
  • Favoring free enterprise, private ownership and socially traditional ideas, or Republican in Name Only — RINO, and;
  • Favoring or enforcing strict obedience to authority, especially that of the government, at the expense of personal freedom, good-conservative; and
  • A far-right, authoritarian, ultranationalist political ideology characterized by a dictatorial leader, centralized autocracy, militarism, forcible suppression of opposition, belief in a natural social hierarchy, subordination of individual interests for the perceived good of the nation or race, and strong regimentation of society and the economy, or MAGA conservative.

The District 1 Republican Central Committee … the good and MAGA conservative members, anyway … will tend to the usual; pledge of allegiance, roll call, committee reports, etc. then take up three resolutions under new business, none with bearing on the good of the party or with any chance of success but each fine vehicles by which to accomplish the essential; stir up contention while accomplishing absolutely nothing and proving their author’s “conservative” credentials and right to look down their noses at the RINOs who not so many years ago did work that actually mattered but are now relegated to the sidelines to watch in disgust as their more theatrical counterparts emote and do little to nothing of substance or consequence.

The least surprising new business item on the agenda is a resolution by Gregory Lamberty in opposition to ranked choice voting, put forward by Reclaim Idaho in their Idaho Open Primaries Initiative. https://www.reclaimidaho.org/ Not surprising in form  or substance since today’s GOP adopted a closed primary in 2011 and have since done all in their power to restrict voter access to GOP primaries, allowing local party leaders to not only vet candidates, essentially telling “loyal” party members who to vote for, but also to decide who is Republican and therefor qualified to cast a ballot in “their party’s” GOP primaries.

In Idaho, where many races are decided in the Republican primary, that means party leaders essentially decide the general elections, weeding out sensible moderates in favor of the ever more radical “conservatives.”

As is the wont of the Dorothy Moon faction of the Idaho GOP, the list of whereases in opposition to ranked choice voting reads like a primer on blaming the opposition for the sins of which you yourself are guilty, and this one even cites the source of their misdirected allegations, the Heritage Foundation, which begat many of the new so-called “freedom” organizations now proliferating, such as the Idaho Freedom Caucus, which exerts considerable influence over the MAGA conservative faction of Idaho’s body of elected officials, many of whom, like District 1 Senator and Bonner County RCC chair Scott Herndon, place more emphasis on keeping up conservative credentials as dictated by the IFC than on the public they were elected to serve.

“Current Idaho Election Law serves the state well by electing state and local office holders the voters want,” one whereas reads. “Changing the way Idaho holds elections will throw doubt on the results of such elections, Ranked choice voting is such a method.”

“WHEREAS, according to a paper issued by the Heritage Foundation Titled “Ranked Choice Voting Is a Bad Choice” “Ranked choice voting is a scheme to disconnect elections from issues and allows candidates with marginal support from voters to win”,

“WHEREAS, ranked choice voting reduces the value of political parties in that ranked choice voting obscures true debate and issue-driven dialogs among candidates and eliminates genuine binary choices between the two top candidates,

“WHEREAS, according to the Heritage Foundation article ranked choice voting disenfranchise voters because ballots that do not include the two ultimate finalists are cast aside to manufacture a fake majority for the winner,

“WHEREAS, ranked choice voting provides more opportunities for certain special interests to manufacture election results they want,

“THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that we, the Republican LD1 Committee opposes any move to replace current Idaho Election Law with ranked choice voting.”

When you can’t convince voters of the merits of your platform, just prevent them from being able to vote.

In even sillier useless resolution #2 (not numbered by position on agenda), Lisa Liband proposes a declaration of no confidence in the leadership of National Republican Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel and a suggestion McDaniel be removed from her post forthwith as she “has failed to embrace and support the MAGA movement and MAGA candidates running for office.”

According to Wikipedia, McDaniel is granddaughter of Michigan Governor and businessman George W. Romney and a niece of Massachusetts Governor and U.S. Senator Mitt Romney of Utah, known for her prolific fundraising and staunch support for President Donald Trump.

“Under her leadership, the RNC ran ads for Trump’s 2020 campaign as early as 2018, put numerous Trump campaign workers and affiliates on the RNC payroll, spent considerable funds at Trump-owned properties, covered his legal fees in the Russian interference investigation, hosted Trump’s Fake News Awards, and criticized Trump critics within the Republican Party,” they write. “After Joe Biden won the 2020 election and Trump refused to concede, McDaniel and the RNC made false claims of voter fraud, and attempted to overturn Biden’s victory. In 2022, she orchestrated a censure of Liz Cheney and Adam Kinzinger, the two Republicans who served on the House Select Committee on the January 6 Attack. The censure characterized the violent pro-Trump mob as having engaged in ‘legitimate political discourse.’ During its fourth public hearing, the House January 6 Committee presented a video excerpt of a deposition from McDaniel where she revealed that, at the request of Trump and John Eastman, she had the RNC help organize fake electors for the Trump fake electors plot.”

Seems seriously MAGA, but not when the goal is to prove yourself or your contingent the MAGAier of the MAGA, or better yet, the MAGAiest.

In addition to not sufficiently embracing MAGA, Lisa’s list of whereases includes these gems:
  • WHEREAS: The National Republican Party has failed in the messaging of Republican ideals and support for those who are standing up for those ideals; and,
  • WHEREAS: The National Republican Committee has failed to admit that our election system is broken; and
  • WHEREAS: The National Republican Committee has failed to support January 6th protestors who stood up to defend our right to fair elections; and
  • WHEREAS: The National Republican Committee has failed to secure our elections and support those who are fighting for secure elections; and
  • WHEREAS: The National Republican Party has failed in the registration of new Republican voters and in a get out the vote effort; and
  • WHEREAS: The National Republican Party continues to waste money on multiple presidential candidate debates when the front runner is clear; and
  • WHEREAS: The National Republican Party continues to host debates with media outlets and commentators that are biased against Republicans and the MAGA movement.

It may have been more convincing for Lisa to have turned to Wikipedia; “Since McDaniel’s 2017 election as chair of the RNC, the Republican Party has had a net loss of seven governorships, three seats in the United States Senate, and 19 seats in the House of Representatives, and the presidency. In December 2022, Axios wrote that McDaniel ‘has thus far failed to preside over a single positive election cycle.'”

It might behoove the party to look in the mirror to examine why McDaniel’s record is so dismal.

And perhaps the silliest resolution to be considered for the evening, put forth by Moyie Springs Precinct Committeeman Elena Quinn, is a proposal that, if approved, would have the Legislative District 1 Republican Central Committee ask Idaho Attorney General Raul Labrador to file suit against the federal government to “Reclaim Idaho State Land (excluding National Park Service and Department of Defense Lands).”

As an aside, it would perhaps be fitting, if no less silly, were she to clarify that she actually meant sue the feds to reclaim all federal land within the State of Idaho.

Citing the disparity of PILT, Payment in Lieu of Taxes paid to counties by the federal government on federal lands, which she lists as $1.86 to $2.11 per acre, to the amount paid per acre (based on her own tax bill) by private property owners, which she says is $40 per acre, Quinn contends, among other things, that the “Central Committee believes that initiating legal proceedings against the federal government is a legitimate and peaceful means for the State of Idaho to reclaim ownership and control of its land, excluding the land under the jurisdiction of the National Park Service,” and that ” legal action is essential to restore Idaho’s sovereignty, allowing the state to exercise independent decision-making regarding the management, use, and conservation of its land and resources, for the benefit of its resident.'”

Her resolution concludes, “Be it further resolved that The Central Committee urge other legislative districts and Republican organizations within the state to express their support for Idaho’s efforts to reclaim state land and join in solidarity to protect the principles of limited government, individual liberty, and state sovereignty.”

What the resolution lacks, as with many such brainstorms by this powerful new and frivolous conservative faction of the modern GOP, are any real-world considerations; take over federal lands … then what? How are state and local governments going to afford managing federal lands if turned over, or conserve the resources thereon?

How are these lands to be equitably turned over to the private sector? How will this nation sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations as the last acres are sold off to the highest bidders?

Not all of North Idaho’s elected Republican precinct committeemen agree with their radical counterparts or subscribe to their performative approach and lack of seriousness. Some still actually believe in free enterprise, private ownership and socially traditional ideas.

“This BS with LD1 boils me over,” one wrote. “It’s a colossal waste of time. I get really irritated with the state of these public committees when they continue to attempt to tell me what to think. These resolutions, where did they come from? A focused few on the committee that think they can. Focus on positive leadership and real issues! The more people work together, the better the solution.”