Republicans and independents across Idaho will be thrilled to learn that I have left the Democratic Party and filed to re-register as an independent. Yes, I know some Democrats will say "good riddance." Like many Idahoans, they know I vote often as an independent, have never voted a straight-party ticket, and that personal friendship and the character of the person take precedence over party for me.
I like to call myself a "business" or "Andrus" Democrat. I'm a fiscal conservative and a social liberal who believes government exists to help the many who, through no fault of their own, need help. We have to pay as we go, however. On the federal level, we simply cannot sustain the unbalanced budgets we keep creating — the money we spend while pretending we're not saddling our children with debt will inevitably restrict their quality of life.
Character does count, and the person is more important than the party. This has led me to vote for the Republican candidate for president four times in the 13 presidential elections since I was first eligible. I also have voted for, and contributed to, reasonable and responsible Republican conservatives where the Republican was clearly the superior candidate, like Sen. Mike Crapo, Gov. Butch Otter, Secretary of State Ben Ysursa and State Sen. Shawn Keough.
Under their breath, many Democrats have called me a DINO (Democrat in Name Only). I freely confess I thought seriously about registering as a Republican so that I could vote in their May primary, because that's where most of the action will be. However, I could not rationalize the hypocrisy.
For many years now, the Republican Party has just been wrong on too many issues I care about. Unfortunately, at the same time, Idaho Democrats moved away from all those lunch-bucket-carrying, hard-working, outdoor-loving Idahoans who understood and subscribed completely to the message of Gov. Cecil Andrus: "First you have to make a living, then you have to have a living worthwhile."
Andrus turned that message into four successful elections to Idaho's governorship; John Evans turned it into two winning elections and served until 1987.
If I'd become a RINO, I would have been the poster child for Bonneville County Republican Chair Doyle Beck's drive to further restrict those voting in the closed Republican primary to only the truest, bluest Republicans. If Beck has his way, the next iteration of tamping down the vote (and thereby increasing the clout of your better organized, ideological kin) will be to move to a caucus system, whereby one has to show up and stand up for the candidate of their choice.
Beck would go a step further. He would require signing a loyalty oath to the party's platform, with its some 76 largely absurd positions. Among those sterling positions are such "progressive" ideas as repeal of the 17th Amendment, which provides for direct election of U.S. senators, and a return to the gold standard.
As an independent, no one will be telling me what positions I have to take. Beck's narrowing of the GOP base is inevitably going to lead to the demise of the party, yet he still pushes for Idaho Republicans to seek a caucus system.
The irony is that the biggest, most obnoxious RINO out there is President Donald Trump. He is a liberal, not a conservative; a deficit spender, not a budget hawk, and it won't be long before his base wakes up to how much he's subsidizing the rich at their expense. Trump has no guiding philosophy, no character, no sense of history, no decency, nor any honor. He is truly a narcissistic, lying, ignorant person who all Americans should feel a sense of shame over.
To have become a RINO would have associated me with the party that Trump professes to be his personal property now. Frustrated as I am with the Dems, I simply could not get on that team. For the rest of my trail ride, I'll be on a horse called independence. You should think about joining me. ♦