Racism is Now an Idaho Problem

An Idaho GOP resolution has tied the Idaho delegation to white supremacist comments and compromised their effectiveness in Washington D.C.

The two worlds of policy and politics have collided once again. At the recent winter meeting of the Idaho Republican State Central Committee, a resolution was approved calling for the reform of birthright citizenship. In and of itself, this policy issue is an important and current topic in which the party likely should maintain a position. The accepted resolution (#3 on the Idaho Conservatives “Resolutions Debrief” found HERE) specifically refers to U.S. Representative Steve King (R-Iowa) and his sponsorship of the Birthright Citizenship Act. The meat of the resolution urges, “Representatives Russ Fulcher and Mike Simpson to work with Representative Steve King…” and “urges Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo to propose a companion bill in the Senate.”

Unfortunately, just days after the resolution was passed, Rep. King was quoted by the New York Times to query, “White nationalist, white supremacist, Western civilization — how did that language become offensive?” We’ll give him Western civilization. Period. There is no pass on questioning the offensive nature of white nationalists and white supremacists, nor in excusing their behavior, past or present. There is no room in our party for this kind of talk. Thankfully, King’s colleagues in the U.S. House of Representatives agreed. House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., told Fox News, “I watched what Steve King said and we took action.” The House Caucus stripped Rep. King of his committee assignments. McCarthy said King’s comments were “beneath the dignity of the Party of Lincoln and the United States of America. His comments call into question whether he will treat all Americans equally.”

{Fox News video}

To be fair, the authors of the resolution may not have been aware of Rep. King’s previous racist comments. or that shortly after they proposed the resolution, King would comment further in a much more offensive way. Regardless, this is an example of the danger of specificity combined with political ideology. In a more informed and frankly, a smarter political process, the resolution would have contained the merits of the issue, made a position statement, asked for action by our own leaders and left the political players out of it. As it is, the resolution ties our own congressional delegation to a tainted man whose conduct has resulted in making him entirely ineffective in Congress. It offers no room for our leadership to efficaciously work through the policy process to get behind the best vehicle to move legislation that accomplishes the end goal. This is particularly damaging to Sen. James Risch, who was recently elected to Chairman of the powerful U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations. 

If last week’s news cycle had not picked up and run with Rep. King’s comments, maybe the Idaho GOP resolution would have remained benign. However, because we have allowed our Party to be ruled by passion over pragmatism, by political theatrics over statesmanship, our policies have now begun to be infiltrated with subtleties that will, in the end, invite discord rather than real-world solutions.

As members of the board of Idaho Conservatives, we are firm in our belief that the best policies come from open and transparent processes that gives way to thoughtful action founded on conservative principles.  The government performs at its best when based on these values. It is at its worst when driven by threats of extremist ideologies.

This opinion editorial was written by the Idaho Conservatives editorial board.

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