Future of our republic hinges on elections ahead

By Mike Weland

Mike WelandI’ve been a reporter in Boundary County, in one fashion or another, since 1991, about 33 years. When I arrived, I was welcomed almost anywhere, and I showed up even when I wasn’t, camera, pen and notepad in hand.

I covered Audubon Society meetings, convincing some that I was a tree-hugging liberal, the first local gatherings of the Oath Keepers, convincing others I was a jack-booted radical. I told this side of a story and was lauded as an advocate, the other side and was derided for my betrayal.

In my 33 years with a pen, I’ve covered every election. As county public information officer, I created and maintained the first official Boundary County website, I posted election results online and on the courthouse wall for the first time early in the 2000s; I left Kootenai Health a week early after my first stroke in 2012, against my doctors advice, because I had a primary to cover.

Never did I even remotely imagine what would happen to our body politic in general and one party of that body in particular in the years since Donald Trump entered politics in 2015. He and his MAGA army have become the single greatest threat to our constitutional federal republic in modern times. And this election cycle, both primary and general, the most pivotal in the history of our nation.

Trump and the MAGA gang and the malignant groups that have sprouted therefrom or in service to; the various Freedom factions and Liberty lovers are neither Republican nor conservative as they so loudly proclaim to be, having usurped and twisted words that once instilled pride into something perverse, and in taking to themselves the reins of the GOP, they have turned a once proud and effective political machine into a base caricature of itself; ineffective, authoritarian. All sideshow, no substance.

And while there are still Republicans in leadership who appreciate those halcyon days pre-Trump, some pre-Palin, pre Tea Party, rare are those with the backbone to call out the shenanigan’s and do what is right.

Before Trump, checks and balances worked for the most part, and typically held those elected to serve the public trust to a higher standard. The GOP could be its own toughest watchdog. When the U .S. Supreme Court denied Richard Nixon’s contention that he was protected by executive privilege for allegations surrounding the Watergate break-in, it wasn’t the judicial system that compelled Nixon’s resignation, it was his own party.

After inciting an insurrection January 6, 2021, many GOP legislators condemned Trump’s egregious and obvious actions to prevent his defeat at the polls, acknowledging that he’d incited an resurrection and finally, at last, had gone that one step too far.

But within days, they were on bended knee kissing the feet and swearing fealty to their king and savior, House speaker Kevin McCarthy, Senator Lindsey Graham being the two most prominent of the spineless.

And while not all Republicans in leadership positions are quite so blatant, the rot permeates and infuses to the depths, infecting nearly all in high GOP elective office who want to hold on to office.

Pre-Trump, I published as many of the press releases issued by the Idaho U.S. Congressional delegation as I could squeeze in; they were topical and said something. They were, for the most part, respectful.

Not so today:

  • “Risch, Crapo, Scott Introduce Bill to Stop Biden Admin’s Big Government Lending Scheme”
  • “Risch, Crapo: Potatoes Are Vegetables — Call on Biden Admin To Maintain Potatoes’ Classification as Vegetables”
  • “By Shortchanging Veterans Homes, Biden’s VA Has Failed Our Veterans”
  • “Risch, Crapo, Barrasso Call Out Biden’s Outrageous Tax Hike on American Energy Producers”

None back up their claims or offer reasonable or rational solutions, but the majority do the bidding of the unenlightened one and amplify the invective and interference of the first and only former U.S. president not to have acceded to the will of the voter, to have ignored the findings of multiple courts denying his election fraud claims as without merit and to have failed to peacefully turn over the reins of power to his successor.

And what are these high-minded, decorous elected servants of the public trust doing with their time and our money and trust? Pandering to the wishes of King Trump and holding endless and baseless investigations and impeachment “inquiries” that are nothing more than the tantrums of an adolescent brat trying to shift blame onto his perceived enemies, battling “woke,” screaming of foreign invaders in our airports who are instead the Gonzaga men’s basketball team, holding hearings on the “weaponization” of the federal government at the behest of the former president who did his utmost to weaponize the federal government, marginalizing and trying to diminish whole classes of people they don’t think should exist, stripping away reproductive and other basic human rights while doing their best to legislate their moral opinions onto a majority that doesn’t share them … putting the “fun back in “dysfunction.”

And when called out for their multitude of lies, conspiracy theories, their misinformation and malignant ineptitude, they put on their meanest pouty faces and most shrill voices and compound their lies by telling us not to believe our lying eyes and falsely blaming the Democrats … “owning” the libs.

Political parties in the United States exist to to serve the whole body politic, to bring together citizens of like mind so as to develop platforms and elect those who will present the ideas and ideals embodied in those platforms to their constituents … that melting pot amalgam of we, the people, glorious and maddening and oh, so beautiful, that we may strive continuously to form an ever more perfect union.

That takes compromise, trust, working together with the realization that we are all equals. We are one nation, 342-million people from all parts of the globe; all colors, creeds, races, religions. Except for those people who lived here from time immemorial, we all came here largely unwelcomed, uninvited … illegal. Yet we all came seeking the same things. Hope. Opportunity. The freedom to pursue happiness, to reap the benefit of our own toil, our wits and our incentive. To be free from oppressive restrictions imposed by authority on one’s way of life, behavior, or political views.

Take note, too … this nation’s founding documents call these rights “inalienable,” unable to be taken away from or given away by the possessor. Under the U.S. Constitution, all men have the right to life, liberty, the pursuit of happiness. Most state constitutions speak to the inalienable rights of man, meaning humanity. Every living, breathing individual of our species … all 8.019 billion of us.

Nearly every state addresses inalienable rights. In Idaho, “All men are by nature free and equal, and have certain inalienable rights, among which are enjoying and defending life and liberty; acquiring, possessing and protecting property; pursuing happiness and securing safety.”

And yet by our constitution, our laws, we who have the requisite credentials and documents can call ourselves “Americans” and so enjoy the rights guaranteed to all her citizens by the constitution; freedom of speech, of religion, to keep and bear arms. Freedom to assemble, freedom of the press. Freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. The right to enfranchisement, to vote and participate in our nation’s governance.

Those are rights afforded her citizens in addition to the inalienable rights belonging to all of humanity. There was a time in our nation when it was legal … prestigious … to hold enslaved a human endowed by a creator with the inalienable right to freedom. It took a long and bloody civil war to form a more perfect union and strike their bonds.

And now we have a major political party made invalid, the ship’s wheel taken over by those who would abandon the high but hard road of a constitutional democracy by, of and for the people, in favor of the low but easy path of autocracy, one party, serving one person and all its citizens have to do is assimilate. Adopt the mores and morals of the party … go along to get along.

The election of 2024 is unique in our nation’s brief history, and not just the presidential race but every municipal, county, state, special district and federal race held or challenged by a MAGA, an election denier, a Christian Nationalist or any other faction that would threaten our constitution in favor of autocracy, of legislating not just what you do, but what you think, what and how you believe.

Yes, a constitutional republic does get messy at times and seems impossible. But as long as we realize that the goal isn’t to be a perfect union, an impossibility, but only to strive to form a better, more perfect union, we can rein ourselves in, work together to make use of all good ideas brought to the table, and make the compromises that will let us test the ground before we commit and charge into the mire.

This election is pivotal. No matter how it turns out, there will undoubtedly be hard feelings and confrontation that could escalate to violence. Regardless of the possibility this is the one time that it is incumbent on those who favor the high road must show their courage by their votes, both in the primaries and the general. Close races will only invigorate and empower those who would assail our constitution and steal the rights and liberties of those who don’t think or believe as they do.

Only an overwhelming and indisputable defeat at the ballot box might suffice to convince them that their radical ideals, ideas and demands are not wanted or welcome.