Politics as War

Photo by Steve Kirch, KMTV

I remember Senator Bart Davis’ comment to the Idaho Senate, but more I remember my naive reaction to it. I can’t remember the context or his exact words, but it was something like “Politics is war, without the bombs and brutality. Politics is done so we don’t have to have war or kill each other.” I apologize for misquoting.

My reaction was one of revulsion, but I respected the man, so I did some pondering and research. It turns out the sentiment was not unique to him. From the 19th century Prussian General Clausewitz to the 20th century Frenchman Foucault, other statesman and philosophers have shared the view.

So, with this blending of images and actions (war as politics, or politics as war) in mind, how are we to look at the state of war (politics) in Idaho right now after the Idaho State Republican Party convention has concluded?

Didn’t you notice? It was last weekend. I would encourage you to read up on the news.

But ignorance of this convention might explain some things. Idaho, indeed, our country tends to limit our awareness of politics. Just like the folks in Ukraine go about their business of growing crops or feeding their families as Russian missiles rain down on their kindergartens, all people tend to focus on their immediate needs. Like what to watch on Netflix tonight.

May I remind you, when Governor Otter was in the Capitol, Idahoans were ten times more likely to Google the aquatic mammal than Butch. We don’t always have a lot of political awareness when there’s wood to get and fish to catch.

So, should we consider the convention a cabal of the generals waging a war for the hearts and minds of Idahoans?  Or was it a freak show echo chamber where the crazies could scream their paranoid fantasies and not expect much blow back?

Unfortunately, I believe the answer is both of the above.

I have evidence for my conclusion. For a long time, the Idaho Republican Party has had in their platform a call to return to the gold and silver standard, despite the economic inanity of such a policy. It hasn’t hurt their numbers in the polls a bit. Add in their call to repeal the direct election of US Senators, the 17th Amendment to the US Constitution. This year they added a call to repeal the 16th Amendment, which authorized Congress’ ability to tax income. Now THAT would make for smaller government.

Please also note Idaho Republicans call for making laws to codify abortion as capital murder, with no exceptions for the mother’s health. So, a woman who will die from an ectopic pregnancy could not get care in this state. And mothers with nonviable fetuses must carry them full term. Remember, there is no statute of limitations on capital crimes, so such a classification would make accessories of women who had abortions 40 years ago. Really? This is how you want to win this war?

But just like Russians can bomb apartments and schools in one town of Ukraine, but the next town over maintains their street markets for shoppers and vendors, sometimes we don’t notice the real atrocities, or even the proposed ones.

Party politics can be very powerful, darn them. Just remember 1930’s Germany.

I think this blending of politics and war was not lost on the newly elected Chairman of the Idaho Republican. Dorothy Moon, in her acceptance speech said, “Democrats are coming for us full force, our barriers are up, our guns are loaded and ready to keep this state free.”

Her slate of radical Republicans won all the seats in the party, and she got elected to man the helm. Most of the radical planks got added to the platform. Now, if Idahoans are paying attention, the battle for their hearts and minds begins.

Or not. Ukrainians denied Russians were on their borders until the bombs began to rain down.

About ddxdx

A Family physician, former county coroner and former Idaho State Senator
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