It’s time for the Moon branch of the Republican Party to put up or shut up

By Jim Jones
JJ Commontater

Jim JonesThe Moon branch of the Republican Party, which does not speak for a majority of Idahoans who are registered as members of the GOP, is at it again with their loyalty farce. In recent months Moon party bosses have called out a number of reasonable Republican legislators to sweat them for using their own brains and not caving to party dictates. Rep. Stephanie Mickelsen has now been censured twice for supposedly straying from Moon-Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) positions on legislation. To her great credit, she has not buckled under, telling the bosses that she was elected to represent her voters, not the extremists presently in control of the GOP.

In her second censure, Mickelsen was attacked by the bosses in Legislative District 32 for supposedly failing to comply with their interpretation of obscure provisions in the GOP platform. According to Doyle Beck, the district chair and a high functionary in the IFF, she may be stripped of the right to run on the Republican ticket. He invoked a constitutionally suspect provision of the Moon party platform that purports to prohibit candidates who don’t slavishly comply with the bosses’ instructions from running under the GOP label for a period of five years.

Beck does not explain the legal basis for this trump-ed up exclusionary provision or how it can be enforced in taxpayer-financed elections. Despite all of his huffing and puffing, the Moonies will have to find a sound statutory basis to strip candidates of the Republican label.

The idea that a small cabal of extremists, like Moon and her cronies, could take control of a political party and dictate to anyone who chooses to run under the banner of that party, is completely foreign to Idaho’s history. And it flies in the face of constitutional government. It would find a comfy home in autocratic countries.

I grew up in the Idaho Republican Party and have a hard time believing that the present-day GOP could have taken such an authoritarian turn. For Idaho newcomers, I worked three years as legislative assistant for former GOP Senator Len Jordan, served as chair of the Jerome County Republicans, served as Republican Attorney General for eight years and ran three times for congressional office under the GOP banner.

But I was never really a part of the Republican establishment. Sometimes a person who does not fit an exact party mold can offer something of value to the party and to the state—think low gas prices, working to protect Idaho water and salmon, taking on the Aryan Nations.

During my term as AG, the Republican Party was dedicated to solving problems and advancing the public interest, without a political twist on every issue. Republicans actually worked across the aisle with Democrats and the state was better for it. The Moon branch of the party has jettisoned that approach, spending the great majority of its time fighting meaningless culture war issues that are designed to create fear and outrage in order to drive up their vote.

The Party needs many more like Stephanie Mickelsen who go to the Legislature to do the people’s business, rather than getting into the mire of political warfare.

If Moon and Beck think they have lawful grounds to prevent Mickelsen or any other any worthy candidate from using the Republican label, then they should step forward with legal action, instead of just flapping their gums and stamping their feet. We are at the put-up-or-shut-up stage of the game. As the lawyer ads say on television, we have attorneys standing by to take care of the problem. Bring it on, Mr. Beck.