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Hartgen: We live in times of such viral hatreds
A Conservative Perspective

Hartgen: We live in times of such viral hatreds

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Next Saturday, right here in Twin Falls, there’ll be a wide assortment of fringe-right groups, each calling for Gov. Brad Little’s political head.

They’ll take the microphone successively from 10 am to 2 pm at the Soccer Field and Splash Park, each given 15 minutes or so to say what’s wrong with Idaho today. Which isn’t nearly what they claim.

If we’re all lucky, they’ll get minimal attention in the media and will go home splashed with some common sense, their looney ideas left in the trash heap of Idaho history. Fat chance the media will ignore them.

The lead-off harpie is Lt. Gov. Janice McGeachin, who rather than offer leadership for the state, prefers to attack Little at every turn. She’ll be followed by Wayne Hoffman, Idaho’s own little rightist tyrant, then firebrand Ammon Bundy, who’s been going around the state telling small groups how evil our police are.

Also scheduled are several backwoods legislators including gun toter Christy Zito, Hammett; III 3 percenter and toy militia soldier Chad Christensen, Ammon; and Rep. Tami Nichols, Middleton.

These folks are Idaho’s own Harpies of the House who shrilly blame every twig on Little, harridans who think they have the right to tell us how we ought to live and whom to elect. The radio trolls will carry it all the following week.

They’re all mad at Little and the state’s general leadership on everything from crimes against “the People” to over-crowded prisons. They blame the Coronavirus for restrictions on so-called individual “liberty” and “freedom” but what they really want is control of Idahoans’ way of life in which we now think for ourselves. Their mission is to turn Idaho into a rightist enclave, taking political directives from out-of-state extremist groups on everything from currency manipulation to dismantling of our education and public employee retirement systems, to legalizing drugs and reaping the profit there from.

Why are they here, this mixed bag of malcontents, gun nuts, tin-soldiers, puffed-up politicos, radio blabbers and tired old John Birch Society members who still think President Eisenhower was a communist agent? Why have they come to little ole’ serene Southern Idaho on a Saturday morning in August? Simple: they’re here to recruit more members, if they can, to their various causes.

It’s been more than 30 years since political rightism has reared its ugly positions locally, when some misguided Jerome County folks did a nighttime cross burning.

Yet, Idaho’s backwater country has since become a haven for flat-earthers, anti-science minstrel-followers and anti-governmentals of all stripes.

For at least half that time — since Ruby Ridge in 1992 — they illustrate yet another showing of how the nation makes room for all manner of the misguided.

Regional and national media will likely swarm in as magpies on a roadside deer kill, always alert to depict Idaho as, well, the Mississippi of the North, a frontier fort on the edge of humanity.

Sure, they’ll get plenty of press attention. Fringies always do. But the real danger lies in that when they are handed political power, they then use it to bash others. They never propose real solutions. They don’t know how actually to govern anything, much less a state.

They just know how to yell and rant. Almost none of them have any public service administrative experience; even MGeachin, whose roles in Boise are largely ceremonial crowd-incite events.

Let’s see. There’s Eric Parker, Hailey, who was last seen in photo aiming a rifle at federal officials. And Sara Brady, who helped the Idaho Freedom Foundation with a stunt at a Meridian park against local police for a phony arrest.

And of course, our own Rep. Christy Zito, whose first education funding votes in the House were against CSI funding, but who has never seen a gun-carrying bill she didn’t like.

And the ever-opportunistic McGeachin who ran as a “drain the swamp in Boise” candidate, which presumably means getting rid of other office-holders.

The real rap on McGeachin, folks, is that she believes she is above the law. She drove hundreds of miles this year from Idaho Falls to tiny, remote Kendrick in North Idaho to protest a lawful order closing a bar. (She’s a bar owner herself.) Just what we need is a public official who thinks she’s above the law.

Now, she tells every group that she’s just a heartbeat away from the governor’s chair. Don’t remind us, Janice.

And of course, there’s Bundy, who just last week led a noisy “anti-mask” anti-government crowd which caused cancellation of a District Health Board meeting in Caldwell.

Yep, we’ll get all types at the park on Saturday. It’s a free country and people can say what they want, (peacefully), but it would be good for most Idahoans to stay away.

Our Founding Fathers knew that without listening to the reasonable perspectives of others, there would be no new nation.

Our own rightists will have none of that. They’re prefer secession, just like in the Civil War or at least nullification by which states can choose which pieces of the US Constitution they don’t like, which is a lot of it.

Their objective is to take over the Republican Party primary process and turn it into a screed-spewing blast of ideological rant and misinformation. They’ll make a lot of noise. Then, we hope, they’ll go home.

Stephen Hartgen, Twin Falls, is a retired five-term Republican member of the Idaho House of Representatives, where he served as chairman of the Commerce & Human Resources Committee. Previously, he was editor and publisher of The Times-News (1982-2005). He is the author of the new book “Tradition & Progress: Southern Idaho’s Growth Since 1990.” This column was first published in He can be reached at


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