Monday, March 13, 2006

Lyon and the GOP. Who cares

Below is the response I wrote to an opinion piece by Marty Trillhaase that appeared in the Post Register January 26, 2006.

My response appeared in the Post Register last week

Lyon and the GOP. Who cares!

I was surprised by Marty’s opinion piece scolding me for being appointed to the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee. Marty starts out with this statement. “By law and custom, we keep partisan politics out of city hall.”

What! You’ve got to be kidding! Just because city politicians don’t have a major political party designation by their name does not mean that politics here in Idaho Falls are non-partisan. Politics is partisan by its very nature. Thomas Jefferson explained:

“Men have differed in opinion, and been divided into parties by these opinions, from the first origin of societies, and in all governments where they have been permitted freely to think and to speak.”

The only place’s politics are truly non-partisan is where one party has a lock on political power and differing opinions are not allowed to be expressed. For example the Baath party in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq or the Communist party in North Korea.

Years later Jefferson went on to explain that:

“Men by their constitutions are divided into two parties: 1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes. 2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, [and] consider them the most honest and safe…depository of the public interests. In every country these two parties exist…”

In Idaho Falls these two parties exist. They are just called by other names, or sometimes they have no name at all; but there is a very real and deep philosophical divide in this city between those who think government should be more like a parent and those who believe government should be more like a servant.

Marty states that “…progressives got partisan politics thrown out of City Hall.”

Apparently they didn’t do a very good job because Marty also says that:

“…it’s not unique for non partisan elected officials to don a partisan hat. Several Idaho mayors have simultaneously been elected as Republican and Democratic members of the legislature. In 1990-92, then-Boise City Councilman Mike Wetherell served as Idaho Democratic Chairman. The occupant of that position today, former Congressman Richard Stallings, also sits on the Pocatello City Council.”

Let me get this straight. We have had people serving as Mayor and in the state legislature at the same time. People have served as State Chairman for the Democratic Party and been on City Councils at the same time. The current Mayor of Idaho Falls campaigned for and won a seat on the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee. Then ran for Mayor on a blatantly Republican platform that would have made Ronald Reagan proud, promising to cut taxes and audit city divisions for waste.

As far as I know Marty has not written a negative word about any of this. Then when I get appointed to the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee suddenly it is a problem that needs to be addressed.

I called Marty to ask for space in the paper to respond to his article. He reassured me that his article was fair because he had mentioned Pocatello City Councilman Richard Stallings being the State Chairman of the Democratic Party. I asked Marty, “If I had not been appointed to the Bonneville County Republican Central Committee when were you going to write about Richard Stalling?” He replied, “Probably never.”

To make the whole point of his article; that elected city officials should not be actively involved in any political party because it is a conflict of interest, Marty is forced to apply a double standard that is basically unfair.

Let me say that I do not vote the way I do because I am a Republican. I am a Republican because I believe that the Republican Party platform is more closely aligned with the principles that I believe in.

My first loyalty is to the Constitution and any political party has to take a back seat to that.

For Marty to suggest that I should not advocate for political principles that I consider wise and just simply because they happen to be embodied in a political party platform is to ask me to voluntarily give up a fundamental freedom that so many American soldiers have given their “last full measure of devotion” to preserve.

The political freedom we all enjoy was bought with the blood of patriots, past and present. The only way Marty will ever get me to give up that freedom is to pry it out of my cold, dead hands.

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