Moderates Are Taking Hold (MATH) is a political action committee formed to educate voters on Idaho’s election process, hoping to encourage and energize them to become involved in choosing who represents us.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the Earth.”. The “by the people” piece is currently lacking in our state. Idahoans are independent in all aspects of our lives. The fewer rules the better. Our drive to be independent, however, is limiting our ability to participate in the election process.
The Republican Party has chosen to close their primary election allowing only registered Republicans to vote. The Courts have ruled this is legal and MATH doesn’t dispute it. Our point is this decision by the party was made on what was good for the party, not what was good for our state. Because most Idahoans are fiercely independent, they are not going to declare as Republicans, and therefore will not vote in the Republican primary. Unfortunately, most elections in our state, are decided in this primary.
Last fall the Associated Press ran an article on the formation of MATH. Immediately there was a reaction from both the Republican and Democratic parties. Both responses were telling. The Democrats said our message was “ridiculous “. Chair Bert Marley stated in part, “We believe Republican leadership has caused this extreme ideology to flourish.”, which we agree with. We can point to legislation on education, the environment or civil rights that would make his point.
He also said, however, “This misguided PAC is encouraging Idaho voters to stick to the status quo”, which is not at all accurate. We are asking Idahoans to do the exact opposite. The Republicans are counting on people to not affiliate with a party, and we are asking them to do so. He asks Idahoans to vote Democratic instead. Our point would be to do so when and where it will make a difference.
In the 2016 primaries for seats in the Idaho legislature, there were 105 seats up for election. The Democrats had contested races in 3. MATH takes no position on who any of us should vote for in the general election but, because in Idaho, most races are over in the primary, make your vote count then as well.
The response from Jonathan Parker, Chair of the Idaho Republican Party was simply weird. He found MATH to be “alarming and disturbing”. He states the closed primary must be protected so their nominees can lead us to “the shining city on the hill”. He states, “The Idaho Republican Party is an open and inclusive party.” If this were the case, the primary would be open, and he would welcome all voters who would like to vote in the Republican primary to do so.
If the closed primary is so special to the Republicans, then let them pay for it. All taxpayers in Idaho are footing the bill to support this power grab by the party. Republicans promote fiscal conservatism, but clearly not when it comes to advancing their own agenda. The two political parties in Idaho have shown us who they are. One is powerless and the other is power hungry.
Newspaper articles concerning MATH have tended to promote “better” ways to get to a more representative government in Idaho. They have made great points and ones we can support, only all will take considerable time and effort to achieve. None can take the first step on May 15. This one can.
In closing, two more quotes from President Lincoln: “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character give him power.” The Republicans are failing this test. And this, “The ballot is stronger than the bullet.” This is what MATH is all about.
Kathy Skippen served two terms in the Idaho Legislature, one term as an Emmett School District board member, and was elected twice as a Gem County Commissioner. Her family has worked in agriculture in Gem County for 115 years.