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Extremism hurts U.S. at national, state and local levels

More and more leaders are speaking out about the dangers our democracy is facing and they’re not pointing to enemies abroad or street demonstrators. Fellow leaders are attacking our government from healthcare to banking, law enforcement and the courts, schools and libraries, aid services, and even our voting rights.

Now criticism is part of democracy – but it should be paired with working for improvement. Instead, these are creating the chaos that leads citizens to surrender rights to a strong man who can “make the trains run on time.”

Last week extremists in the U.S. House decided to switch their reason for obstructing a new budget from the nation’s spending to the long-term immigration snafu. Now cutting millions in funding for immigration agents and military forces is being sold as helping the U.S. deal with thousands fleeing Central American autocracies.

And one of the non-negotiable demands of the House Freedom Caucus is to discontinue aid to Ukraine, to allow Putin to swallow up that democracy and its citizens.

Have they never heard of the Munich Agreement? In 1938 France and England agreed to allow Nazi Germany, as well as Poland and Hungary, to take segments of Czechoslovakia. Leaders of both countries bragged they had satisfied Hitler’s demands. Later came blitzkrieg – lightning war – where the Germans marched through four countries in four days to get around France’s defenses and, ultimately, take over that country.

Just how many free people is this ‘Freedom Caucus’ willing to give to dictators?

Here in Idaho extreme Republicans in our legislature are depriving thousands of a voice in choosing next year’s presidential nominees. Republicans passed a bill changing the primary election to May–and then let the bill allowing candidates to file die in Brent Crane’s committee.

After five months Republican legislators haven’t agreed enough to correct that error. Senate members support making it possible to file for a May primary, and House members want to reinstate a March primary.

Without a primary, parties will resort to caucuses. No more state funds for early voting, by mail voting, or multiple polling sites. So attendance is less – about 27% of Canyon County’s voters turned out for the 2020 presidential primaries; the percentage with earlier caucuses was closer to five.

With Trump and Biden having solid leads this year, cutting out some voters may not change the final outcome. But, in the long run, making voting impossible for Idahoans who are out of the area, working, handicapped, or without transportation will make a difference.

And, at the local level, extremists are attempting to take over our public schools. Both Nampa and West Bonner school districts suffered from trustees more interested in indoctrinating than educating.

Two moderates on the Nampa School Board have chosen not to run again. Fortunately, two educators who see the importance of teaching kids to gather information and make decisions have filed. Candidate Stephanie Binns, zone 1, has been with the Caldwell School District for 20 years. Adam Schasel, zone 2, taught economics in Nampa until recently.

In spite of a threatening demonstration and repeated harassment against the Caldwell School Board, all three incumbents up for re-election filed. They have helped bring all-day kindergarten and more vocational programs to the district. incumbents are Manny Godina, zone 2; Travis Manning, zone 3; and Andrew Butler, zone 4.

These are not all Democrats, but they have all proven to care about kids.

The limits on what we are capable of changing makes it all the more important that we do everything possible. Vote in November. Then press our legislators to reinstate a presidential primary.

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