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Sometimes I find things humorous when I shouldn’t

During a summer break from high school, my dad rented a boat and we wafted happily across Redfish Lake. Then the small electric engine gave out and we discovered the rental didn’t include oars.

I laughed.

My dad shook his head and said, “People like you deserve to lose your oars.”

I still have a tendency to find things humorous when perhaps I shouldn’t. . .

Like when a lady speaking during the Caldwell School Board public comment period lectured people in general for referring to the United States as a democracy instead of a representative republic. Her statement made about as much sense as saying I’m a person, not a human. But what I found hilarious was this woman scolding duly elected representatives while denying the democracy that made her actions possible.

Afterward a friend and I talked about why the Republicans brainwash people into denying they live in a democracy. Was it because their opposition was named Democrats? Or because they didn’t want us to question elected authorities? And maybe they truly wanted power, not democracy. They did fight initiatives and referendums and work at suppressing votes.

And can anyone view the webpage of the Values Advocacy Council–which some claim mobilized the mob opposing the Caldwell School Board–without laughing? In small red letters across the middle of the page is written, “Let's Keep Idaho Godly and not let it become California.”

The organization's address is in San Jose, California.

Well, San Jose, not so long ago people in Idaho had little respect for bullies and were civil, even when they disagreed. I remember, when I ran for office, many said in their most comforting voices. “Oh, honey, I can’t vote for a Democrat.” Some even patted my shoulder.

And people admired how Gov. Cecil Andrus could get away with gibes so friendly that even his target laughed. Of course, many answered in kind.

Groups like the Values Advocacy Council–or the Aryan Nations or the Patriot Front–are not out to preserve our state but gain complete freedom to step on others.

I’ve also laughed as it became more and more apparent that U.S. Rep. George Santos, a newly elected Republican from New York, fabricated his life story. Not only had he not attended the colleges or worked at the companies on his resume, his reported worth had mysteriously rocketed from $50,000 in 2020 to $2.6 million in 2021. And the latest–he denied that he’d been a drag queen only to have others discover an old Wikipedia entry by him claiming he had been.

But other commentators aren’t laughing.

Marc Elias of Democracy Docket wrote, “The hallmark of the modern Republican Party is its shamelessness. You can be many things and still be a Republican….However, you must not feel shame. You cannot admit mistakes. Hypocrisy is a virtue, not a vice. Most of all, never admit defeat.”

Elias goes on to say that the common decency which makes it possible for citizens with differing views to trust one another is necessary to a democracy. But suppressing and intimidating voters and harassing and vilifying election officials destroys that trust and places our democracy in danger.

Joan Walsh of The Nation writes of voter suppression succeeding in giving Republicans victories in Georgia, where mail-in ballots dropped by 81% in two years, and in Milwaukee where voter turnout dropped by 37,000. She wrote of Republican lawmakers in Florida, Missouri and Ohio making it harder to use ballot measures as citizens push for “hikes in the minimum wage, abortion rights, and redistricting by independent commissions.”

But crying hurts too much.

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