Republican Sen. Dan Foreman of Moscow insists that he is not a politician, and I can believe that, judging by a recent letter to a constituent.
He skipped the usual mundane greeting, thanking the constituent for her concern about Foreman’s proposed tax break for parents sending their kids to private schools. Instead, he said, “You must understand something. I do represent my entire district. But I am under no obligation to do what you want. Your opinion represents (the) minority view in district five.”
It gets better.
“… Furthermore, you must understand I am a Christian, conservative Republican. I won my election, because the MAJORITY of voters in my district voted for me. I defeated your left-wing liberal candidate, because a majority of voters chose me and my clearly outlined political platform of conservative values. So, your side lost, and my side won. … You simply don’t like the fact that you are not getting YOUR way any longer.”
In closing, “I am not to blame for you not liking the conservative agenda. Better luck in two years.”
You must be asking, “How did this guy get elected?”
Well … he’s nice guy. Really. There’s no trace of belligerence or arrogance when talking to him one-on-one. I suspect the engaging side of Foreman is what District 5 voters saw last year during his successful campaign to defeat Dan Schmidt, the Democratic incumbent. Foreman has his convictions, for sure. He thinks abortions should be illegal in Idaho and believes that climate change is liberal “nonsense.” But he respects those who think differently and, despite what his constituent letter reflects, he even has nice words for his defeated opponent.
“He’s a good man. I like him and I had fun running against him,” Foreman said. “Voters had a choice. They didn’t have a couple of cookie-cutter, middle-of-the-road guys who were just trying to get elected.”
Unlike most who win elections to the Legislature, Foreman is not looking ahead to next year. “I haven’t given it 10 seconds of thought,” he said. “I came here to do a job, not to get reelected.”
He’s heard the advice that almost all freshman legislators get – keep your head down, ears open and mouth shut. He’s heard warnings about new legislators committing themselves too early on issues. The 63-year-old Foreman, a retired Air Force pilot and former Moscow police officer, doesn’t have the time or patience for caution.
“I’m not going to waste time just sitting here,” he said. “I’ve been almost killed more times than I can think of in the line of duty. I’m not saying that makes me anyone special. But I’m not here to watch the show. I’m here to direct the show.”
He’s not in the position to direct much of anything, officially being listed at the very bottom (No. 35) on the Senate’s seniority list. And given the nature of his district, he’s hardly sitting in a safe seat. The other two legislators from that district – Democratic Rep. Paulette Jordan of Plummer and Republican Rep. Caroline Troy of Genesee – are not right-wingers.
In Foreman’s thinking, there is too much wasteful spending in the public schools – unions have done damage to a line of work that should be “a calling.” Better results are coming from private and home schools. If money is tight, then schools should cut back, or eliminate, some sports and music programs. Universities are spending too much money on new buildings. “How about trimming tuition costs so kids don’t come out with huge debts?”
Foreman says America, in general, is in trouble and needs to return to a sense of morality and patriotism. “I’m Christian conservative Republican, which means I have a moral compass. I don’t believe in the separation of church and state – it’s a figment of somebody’s imagination.”
But beyond political philosophies, he says, “We all want the same things even though the window dressing on our political agendas might be a little different. People want to live in peace, live in a free country, raise their kids, have good schools, good jobs and to be left alone.”
Foreman’s brash style may not be for everybody, but he offers no apologies. He welcomes letters from his constituents, but there’s no guarantee they will like his responses.