“If we cannot by reason, by influence, by example, by strenuous effort, and by personal sacrifice, mend the bad places of civilization, we certainly cannot do it by force.”
– Auberon Herbert
At the core of political parties is the idea of voluntary association. Voluntary association means that, as a free people, we have the right to associate with others based on any number of commonalities. Whether they be religious, ideological, social, or economic factors, we associate with people where we find common ground. In conservative America, this often means churches. In progressive America, this might mean labor or trade unions.
Regarding political associations, benefit arises when we seek to implement shared ideas in our communities. By voluntarily associating with a political party, we proclaim our shared belief in the party’s tenets. Both the Republican and the Democrat parties publish core beliefs in a party platform. Third parties such as the Libertarian, Constitution, and Green parties also publish party platforms. In total, at least fifty-three political parties are operating in American politics.
The two largest political parties, the Republican and Democrat Parties, have enjoyed hegemony in American politics since the Civil War. On occasion, populist candidates like Teddy Roosevelt and Ross Perot have seen a measure of success in splintering the predominant two-party vote with the rise of their own parties, the Progressive and the Reform parties. Because they’re largely populist and tied to the candidate, their staying power has waned. By and large, political success in America at a state and national level is most commonly tied to an association with one of the two major political parties.
Idaho is no exception to two-party dominance. Idaho has never elected a governor who was not Republican or Democrat, and of the thirty-three governors of Idaho, twenty-one of them have been Republicans. As the major conservative party of the United States, the Republican Party most often finds a home in rural America. This is not by accident. Conservatism, by definition, is slow to change and promotes a slower pace of life with traditional family values. People who desire a quieter life often land in conservative regions.
In contrast, progressivism is the predominant political ideology of the Democrat Party, most often found in urban centers like Portland or Seattle. Because progressivism demands change at all times, Democrats are never complacent with how things are. This is why campaigns for ambiguous living wages are undefinable and never-ending. Seattle, which in recent history enacted a $15 per hour minimum wage, has most recently bumped their minimum wage again to $20 per hour. Progressives aren’t concerned about economic laws, the cost of inputs, and the resulting inflation or pricing producers out of their markets. Their only concern is promising the most benefit to their customers, the voters.
Because of the stark contrast in belief systems between conservatives and progressives, the Idaho Republican Party has made every effort to require some commonality in beliefs so that Republican voters can be assured that the Republican label will only be used to promote mutually agreed upon conservative policy. This is why, in 2011, the Idaho legislature enacted legislation that leaves the option of closed or open primaries to the voting party. The Idaho Democrat Party, desperate for votes, elected to open their primary. The Republican Party, wishing to narrow their numbers down to mutual belief, closed their primary. This does not exclude voters from the political process, as anyone can register as a Republican. It merely asks that voters voluntarily affiliate before participating in party politics.
In the past year, a progressive activist group calling themselves Reclaim Idaho has invested substantial funds and labor into a ballot referendum to change Idaho’s electoral system so that they may participate in Republican Party politics without first registering as a Republican. For some time now, progressives have been changing their party affiliation every couple of years to nominate the most progressive Republicans they can identify. Between the election of 2020 and the midterm election of 2022, fifty-eight thousand unaffiliated voters dropped off the rolls of the Secretary of State, while forty-six thousand new Republicans registered. In a state where elections are often determined by mere thousands of votes, this provides an opportunity for deceitfully manipulating the political landscape of Idaho.
Because the Idaho Democrat Party has an open primary and Republicans have a closed primary, the only possible explanation for progressive attempts to force Idaho’s primaries open is that they wish to have undue influence in party politics where they don’t share party values. Do not be fooled, Idaho. The progressive expansionism of Portland and Seattle is knocking at our door, and it is up to us to send them packing.
This Op-Ed was submitted by Brian Parsons and originally published on WithdrawConsent.org. Op-Eds do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of those at the Idaho Dispatch.
Tags: Closed Primary, Constitution Party, Democratic Party, Green Party, Idaho, Libertarian Party, Living wage, Minimum wage, open primary, party platform, Politics, Portland, progressive expansionism, Reclaim Idaho, Republican Party, Seattle