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Columns
INSIDE POLITICS
Inside Politics: Hangovers, Coffee, and Lemonade

American progressives and moderates awoke last Nov. 9 with serious hangovers. Not the good kind that pound a reminder of the previous night’s Super Bowl victory. They were the awful kind that pound a reminder of the Super Bowl loss the afternoon of your best friend’s funeral.

It’s been a long five months since then and generating positive spin is a saturnine challenge. But even tornadoes and hurricanes deliver some positives to the undaunted. They demonstrate the incredible force miniscule molecules of air can have working together with enough energy. And while they reveal the weakness of everything in their wake, their cathartic violence also paves the path for the resilience necessary for long term survival.

Waking up and smelling the coffee is step one toward extracting therapeutic benefit from catharsis. First comes triage. Avoid shock. Assess injuries. Identify causes. Determine the tonics and therapies needed for healing. Then avoid repeat injuries.

Avoiding shock includes not exaggerating damage. I remind progressives that 11 million more Americans voted against Donald Trump than for him. Barely 77,000 voters in three states delivered Electoral College victory to the popular-vote bigly loser. Democrats gained seats in both houses of congress despite the quirky presidential win. It was a perfect storm for Trump supporters, but one that, even at face value, revealed their cause’s soft underbelly.

Those smelling the April coffee aren’t just Democrats. Many are independents and moderate Republicans coping with severe buyer’s remorse. They’ve discovered the 2016 Lincoln they thought they acquired is actually a lemon-scented Edsel (or Lada). Meanwhile, they’re checking the two-year tread-wear warranties on the congressional radials worsening their clunker’s rough ride, and giving plummeting approval ratings to Republicans in general.

And let’s be clear, Trumpian damage will hit Idaho like a tsunami. Agriculture in general and dairying in particular will suffer from loss of undocumented workers and Republican refusal to craft comprehensive immigration reform. Gutting the EPA will guarantee that Idaho’s water and air become measurably more toxic (although the Trump-decimated EPA will halt the monitoring that proves it). Idahoans will be ingesting more pesticides in their food, while disadvantaged school kids will simply be doing less ingesting, period — because Speaker Ryan will cut school lunch programs. Idaho’s hospitality industry will likewise see labor shortages plus reduced international tourism. Trump doctrine makes it official that if you aren’t American we don’t really like you. Travel agencies are already seeing reduced bookings nationwide from international visitors.

Older Idahoans can expect Medicare and Social Security shrinkage. And Trumpcare, if and when it ever happens, will likely toss most Idahoans needing health care out of eligibility for meaningful assistance, shoving them back into the world of fly-by-night inadequate insurance or no coverage at all. Idaho Republican legislators, panting at the prospect of ACA repeal and replacement, sat on their collective thumbs as 78,000 Idahoans face a continued future without proper health care. Since Mr. Trump and Secretary DeVos are neither competent to oversee nor have any commitment to public education, expect loss of federal education funds, securing, perhaps forever, Idaho’s abysmal education standing.

Better pundits than I have speculated on the causes and extent of damage from our last election — injuries to our body politic, government, institutions, international respect and long-standing social contracts that collectively constitute America. But it’s clear what the 54 percent of Americans who voted against Trumpism must do until the 2018 midterm congressional and 2020 presidential elections to repair the existing and worsening damage.

We need to convince like-minded progressives who haven’t done so before to register and ultimately vote. We all need to vote in every election: local, state and national to advance progressives and progressive agendas at every opportunity. No more bench warming, thinking it’s someone else’s responsibility. We must also overcome differences among ourselves that make victory easier for non-progressives.

But elections aside, there’s lots we can and must do before, during and after elections from now on. It all boils down to becoming involved and staying energized.

We need to pay attention, show up, and fill craters created by conservative bombarding of essential government services. Above all we must put our politicians on speed dial to protest when they are screwing up and praise when they serve citizens as our state and federal constitutions intended. Paramount in that messaging is that living, breathing citizens, community, state and nation all come before corporations and political party.

Want to get involved immediately? Check the Idaho Democratic Party’s web calendar of events http://idahodems.org/calendar-events/ or contact IDP leaders near you http://idahodems.org/elected-democrats/state-central-committee-members/ to help you get started.

There’s plenty of progressive opportunities outside the Democratic party as well. Show up at public meetings. Attorney General Wasden will have a public lands forum at the Herrett Center on April 19 at 7 p.m. Participate in the Earth Day Science Rally at the Twin Falls County Courthouse April 22 at 10:30 a.m. Go on line and give written public testimony regarding Idaho’s science curriculum standards https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/NKWY556 covering climate change and bio-diversity. Sign up and attend the ACLU “Sessions Confessions Tour” https://action.aclu.org/secure/id-legislative-tour-2017 in Twin Falls scheduled for Thursday, April 13, 12:30-2 p.m. at Canyon Crest Events Center.

And by all means, visit the Twin Falls County Democratic Party webpage https://twinfallsdems.com/about/ or our “Twin Falls County Democrats” Facebook page to get in touch and to learn about our upcoming events.

Together we’ll take the lemons harvested last November and produce the lemonade to sustain us in the days ahead, to protect our progressive heritage and work for a better future for every Idahoan.


Columns
OTHER VIEW
Other View: Democrats will regret trying to block Gorsuch

The following editorial appears on Bloomberg View: What did Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York, achieve in attempting to deny a vote on Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Donald Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court?

Not keeping Gorsuch off the court; he was approved on Friday. Not preserving the filibuster for use against any future Trump nominee; Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, abolished the tactic on Thursday. Not standing on principle; after rightly attacking Republicans for denying Merrick Garland a vote last year, Democrats tried to do the same thing.

Schumer did, however, achieve a political victory: He placated the “resistance” wing of the Democratic Party, which opposes any cooperation with Republicans. Party activists had threatened to mount primary campaigns against Democrats who allowed a vote to proceed, even organizing protests outside the Brooklyn home of Schumer, who is not up for re-election until 2022.

By caving to their demands, Schumer bought his conference some temporary peace. But the price for the country is steep.

This resistance movement is the mirror image of the tea party, which has pushed Republicans into a period of obstructionism that persists even with their transition to the governing party. If the Democrats’ resistance wing calls the tune on other major questions facing Congress — from infrastructure to trade to health care — Americans will be poorer for it.

Schumer must decide whether he wants to be the leader of the Senate’s Democrats or a follower of the party’s activist base. His first responsibility as an American is to be a patriot and do what’s right for the country. Leadership requires more than doing battle with the opposition; it requires speaking difficult truths to your own troops. It would not have required much courage for Schumer to announce that he would oppose Gorsuch while still allowing a vote to proceed.

Schumer’s gambit will impose a second, even more harmful, cost on the country: ending the tradition that senators consider judicial nominees’ legal qualifications more than their political philosophy. This tradition has taken some blows in recent decades, but with Garland and Gorsuch, the two parties have bludgeoned it to death. Leading the Democratic attack may have been the most shortsighted decision of Schumer’s long career.

Democrats will almost certainly come to regret taking revenge for Garland. It is not hard to imagine a Republican majority refusing to allow a vote on the Supreme Court nominee of a Democratic president — not in the last year of his or her tenure, but in the first. With this kind of tit-for-tat obstructionism, the court might even come to lack a six-member quorum.

The partisanship that has increasingly consumed Congress is now inflicting collateral damage on the courts. The long-term consequences — for the country and for Schumer’s legacy — could be severe.


Mailbag
Letter: Trujillo, Moyle need to return money

Moyle needs

to return money

I compliment you for the re-print of the article entitled “There are rules — then there’s Mike Moyle” (Monday) which recently appeared in the Lewiston Tribune. I read it twice and got more angry with each reading.

The headline should have added “and Janet Trujillo.”

Section 18-2706, Idaho Code provides, and I paraphrase: Any person, with intent to defraud, who presents for payment to any state board or agency, authorized to allow or pay the same, if genuine, any, false or fraudulent claim, bill, account, voucher or writing, is guilty of a felony.

If we wait for the House of Representatives to take action to expose the Trujillo claims, that’s the same as a lowly wolf in the pack asking the alpha male to investigate which wolf has been eating all the lamb chops.

And where is our attorney general, who is charged with enforcing the law? Are we, as taxpayers, to idly sit back waiting for the House, or the attorney general, or some law enforcement agency to start an investigation and to take to trial any person charged with violating the law. Or are we sit back and say, Oh well, this conduct is alright — so long as condoned by the supposed super-stars of our Legislature?

I suggest, if nobody acts, that we vote these rascals out of office and then get somebody who will charge them with the felonies with which they ought to be charged and then let them sit in prison instead of enjoying the “little piece of Heaven” in Star, Idaho.

Mr. Wasden, claiming even one dollar unlawfully is a felony; how many hundreds or thousands plundered from the state treasury will stir you into action to look after the interests of the taxpayers of ldaho.

Come on, Mike and Janet, admit Janet claimed the money and received it, that both of you got the benefit of it and now, before you get arrested, graciously pay back the monies you took; or are you so arrogant and cock-sure of your political connections and influence that you really don’t care.

John A. Doerr

Twin Falls