The Idaho Dispatch published an Op-Ed this week called “Idaho’s Aristocracy Unites for a Fight”. The article references a few press releases and posts pushed out by the Ada County Republicans and the Idaho Republican Party. Although I am an Executive Board Member for the Ada County Republicans, I do not participate in issuing Press Releases nor producing social media content for posts on behalf of the party. Likewise, my response to the Op-Ed written by A.J. Ellis is independent of any official party position and I represent these thoughts as a life-long Republican.
Let me begin by stating clearly that I don’t disagree in part with Ellis’ message, but I do assert his conclusion is worthy of further analysis and some criticism.
What Ellis Has Right
What Ellis has right is that the focus of the GOP press release was on a few bad actors that MAY have engaged in unlawful behavior. (I say MAY because I have yet to review police reports or talk to witnesses who were at Commissioner Lachiondo’s residence allegedly disturbing the peace. ) The press release also combined the defacing of the Anne Frank Memorial which added to the confusion of readers who incorrectly assumed the GOP was attaching responsibility for the vandalism to the protestors. Clearly, we can all agree that the vandalism and defacing of the Anne Frank Memorial is abhorrent behavior on so many levels. Equally abhorrent, is the relentless restrictions that have been placed on thousands of Idahoans who have lost their homes, jobs, businesses, and even family members to suicide as their very own hope is deferred while the Pandemic lingers on. Proverbs 13:12 states, “Hope deferred makes the heart grow weak….” Hopelessness can be as deadly as Covid-19 for those who struggle with depression and other mental health disorders. Idahoans have patiently navigated a moving target of a three-week lockdown to “bend the proverbial curve,” to an on-going and sustained moving target with Health Departments creating arbitrary rules with little evidence-based science justifying the mandates. The protestors have had enough and I don’t blame them.
Idahoans are self-reliant, prefer self-governance over draconian mandates in the name of “safety”, and value personal responsibility and the freedoms guaranteed to them by the Constitution. Simply put, this government overreach is as repugnant to thousands of Idahoans much like three obnoxious protestors were to a Commissioner, who were banging pots and pans outside her residence in fury of their stripped liberties. Yet who is taking up their cause? Who is speaking out with condemnation for their voices? Who is defending their liberties?
Ellis raises questions that should provoke the thoughts of every elected official in the State of Idaho. The GOP condemnation was swift to deal with protestors pushing the boundaries of lawful protests, and defacing the Anne Frank Memorial with Nazi stickers, yet Ellis wants to know where is the same condemnation from elected leaders allowing the continued infringement of personal liberties? To error by silence when leaders should speak out creates a narrative of complicity that too requires condemnation. This author agrees Ellis’ question is worthy of further dialogue.
What Ellis Has Wrong
What Ellis has wrong is that the GOP was in no way “using whatever they could of the moment to shame and condemn the conservative grassroots and establish a narrative of events that serves to protect their power.” That statement is fraught with presumptuous accusations that do not bear out with the facts. Republicans absolutely support the right to protest and defend those who seek to stand against tyranny and limit free speech. Protests play an important role in preserving our Republic. Protests allow the people to bring awareness to injustices, to petition and engage their representatives for redress, and to unite around a common cause that conveys the message that the people will defend their inalienable rights that are not given to them by man, but are given to them by God.
The GOP was in no way condemning lawful protests, but too many, Ellis included, saw the disparate treatment in which thousands of Idahoans were marginalized by elected leaders who have failed to condemn government overreach while quick to condemn bad actors for “disturbing the peace” and “vandalizing” a memorial dedicated to a Holocaust victim. (And before the liberal left attempts to co-opt my message, I am in no way comparing Hitler and the horrific killing of Jews to that of lockdowns and government mandates.) The core issue Ellis highlights is when do Republicans condemn the substantial overreach that has burdened and irreparably harmed Idahoans? Is that not worthy of a conversation?
I welcome a conversation with Ellis, whom I do not know. I believe Ellis might be surprised with just how much we have in common. It is time for honest discussions on how long this lockdown will go. How long will our leaders ignore the frustrations of the people, and when can Idahoans reclaim their liberties that have been abridged for far too long?
Tracey Koellisch is a Political Scientist, Conservative Activist, currently serving as the Ada County Republican State Committeewoman, and is a Wife and Mother to 3.
Tags: A.J. Eillis, Ada County Republicans, Idaho GOP, Tracey Koellisch