Lacey Smith

Idaho’s Super Tuesday Disappointment

In Current Events, Politics on March 13, 2012 at 1:11 pm

It takes an event like Super Tuesday to get me blogging again. I am a reluctant blogger, after all, and other pursuits have taken priority – some less than important.

But Super Tuesday’s come and gone and something’s still really bugging me.

It’s not the lack of good analysis from the mainstream media or the mind-bogglingness that Newt Gingrich is still in this thing. Instead, it’s the results from my home state that are still under my skin.

Idaho went solidly (and was called fairly early) for Romney. I can only figure one reason for this: Idaho is Mormon country and Romney is Mormon.

Now before anyone jumps on that rather harsh assessment of Idaho politics, I know Romney has positives. I also know that Romney is a big name who everyone in Idaho knows “saved the Olympics” and Idahoans felt a lot of pride when the Olympics came so close.

However, Romney is not an Idaho Republican. The statement “Your republicans are our democrats” is a common sentiment in Idaho. Even in more liberal Boise, Idaho democrats would be republicans in a lot of states.

Despite Romney’s positives, his ideology doesn’t match up with the ideology of the Idaho Republican Party.

Yet, he won handily in Idaho and was touted as “the guy” by party leaders. Moreover, he won not only in the Boise metro area, he won most of the very conservative rural counties.

I cannot come up with a good reason why, except that he’s a big Mormon name and the rural counties, for far too long, have been asleep.

For a long time there has been little reason to fight in Idaho. Now they’re in a fight for their conservative soul and most people don’t even know it.

If you are a long-time resident with a respectable job (school teacher, police officer, etc.) and held a prominent calling within the LDS church (Relief Society president, Bishopric or Stake Presidency), your chances of getting elected are pretty good. And there won’t be a major vetting of your policies or ideology. If you don’t fit that criteria, two out of three ain’t bad. OR you can just ally yourself with someone else who fits that bill.

Campaigning frequently happens in the halls of church and “He’s a good Mormon” is as much of an endorsement as many voters need.

Without a fight from outside, Idaho’s conservatives have gotten lazy. Now the fight is within and not easy to recognize.  In many ways that’s the commentary on America.

Idaho had a real opportunity here to back a conservative. Either Ron Paul or Rick Santorum, while far from perfect candidates, would have been better choices for Idaho (and by better I mean more in line with Idaho values).

Instead, Idaho voters undid so much of the good they did themselves by moving their caucus to Super Tuesday this year. Idaho was easily predicted and delivered just such predictable results.

Maybe the candidates should’ve spend more in Idaho, but their lack of attention is a symptom of Idaho’s long-term irrelevance. It will take time for them to start paying attention to Idaho.

In the meantime, Idahoans need to wake up and start vetting candidates for real.

And while Idahoans learn to do that, the rest of the country can and should take a message from Idaho.

We need to carefully and thoroughly examine the candidates for each political office. If the painful lessons of the last three years have taught us nothing else, we should have learned that just listening to a stump speech is not enough. We also need to look at a candidate’s record, their church, their associates, their friends and family, their writing and their critics.

We need to get to know our candidates on a much deeper level than most of us ever take the time to do.

We must not continue to be predictably lazy. Otherwise candidates will continue to take advantage of us. It’s time to dig our heads out of the sand and get it together.

If we don’t, we get what we deserve and it’s not going to be pretty.

  1. The landslide Romney won by was extremely embarrassing. I refuse to believe that the majority of people who voted for him did their research on the candidates. His flip flopping on gun control and abortion were enough to put me off from the very beginning. Just because someone puts an R in front of their name does not make them a republican and just because someone claims a religion does not make them righteous. I can’t believe how many people threw themselves behind this guy like brain washed zombies. I admit I am also a little bitter because none of my extended family is LDS and when I last saw them they were all telling me that the Mormons would vote for their own no matter what. I guess they were right… I’m thoroughly disgusted.

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