In Defense of the Citizen Legislature

The drones have been released by national leftists to attack the integrity of Idaho elections and the character of the Idaho Legislature. Despite spending some $450,000 to hoodwink Idahoans into supporting their agenda of “campaign finance and ethics reform” – the national Soros machine failed to qualify for the ballot. But they have not gone away.

Now they are working through their friends in the media and Democrat Party to bully the Idaho Legislature into creating new laws and restrictions on the First Amendment in order to fix a problem which doesn’t actually exist. Unfortunately, a number of Republicans are allowing themselves to be intimidated into cooperating with their campaign to undermine one of our most precious legacies — a Citizens’ Legislature.

We are being told that we need to pass new regulations and laws to get a more “ethical” government. The first problem with this prescription is the fact that the Left doesn’t actually have a moral code. I’m not even sure they have a coherent ethics. After all, they have rejected God and any notion of natural law. This explains why their definitions of “good” and “bad” feels so arbitrary and ever-changing.

What they are left with is a form of legalism dressed up in fancy clothes to make themselves look like they are somehow superior — the only valid arbiters of right and wrong. Sadly, it is a strategy which has worked too often in misleading the culture. It is a strategy always designed to produce a result, regardless of the costs and means. And when they win, the result is more bondage.

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(The image of the lawyers and Pharisees confronting the Son of God comes to mind: “Woe to you lawyers also! Because you load men with your oppressive burdens and you yourselves with one of your fingers do not touch the burdens“).

Now their target is Idaho’s Citizen Legislature. They imply — or outright claim — that it must be “cleaned up” because it is full of “conflicts of interest”.

Well — guess what: It is. That is the genius of our system of government. We have smart people, not so smart people; wealthy people and struggling people serving in the Legislature. Some work in insurance, others raise cattle. Some sell real estate, others own a retail shop in a small Idaho town. Each legislator is loaded with talents, weaknesses, interests, areas of expertise and subjects about which they know next to nothing. Just like the People of Idaho, from whom those legislators come.

The Founders were wise people. Instead of trying to create a government of experts and professionals, they strove to use the strengths and weakness of the natural man as an asset. They were smart enough to know that man is not capable of completely ignoring his/her self-interest. So they created a system of self-government in which those interests are balanced against one another to find commonsense solutions to general problems. After all, no single legislator can enact a law or spend a dollar. They must persuade a majority of their colleagues that their proposal is good policy.

That was the founding vision for the Congress, and the vision which inspired those who wrote the Idaho Constitution.

We all see what is happening to Congress. It is no longer a place of citizens giving up their private lives for a time to serve the community and public good. It has largely become a place of professional legislators and staffs. It has become an institution moribund in regulations, rules, and restrictions. And that is where the George Soros crowd wants to drive Idaho.

I would argue that we must fight these efforts. We must appreciate the great treasure that is the Citizens’ Legislature. It represents the most wonderful form of government ever created: Self-governance.

Of course, the Legislature fails us and frustrates us. Of course, it is imperfect. But it is the best system of government yet devised. It is the breathing incarnation of those ideals Lincoln expressed in his immortal speech: A government OF the People, BY the People and FOR the People. The beauty of the Citizen Legislature is that its members must return to the community and live alongside us, under the very laws they have created.

We have plenty of laws already in place to deal with cases of outright corruption. So there is no need to be distracted by such rare cases.

For the more general problem of inept legislators who may no longer serve the best interests of their constituents, we find the solution in freedom. Not more government restrictions and regulations of campaigns and elections. Freedom. We need to make it easier to run for office, including the raising of funds from fellow citizens. We need more vigorous campaigns and more citizen involvement, not more government control of the electoral process.

Now freedom scares a lot of people — especially those in power, and most especially those on the Left. And that freedom under the First Amendment is under serious attack here in Idaho. Make no mistake about that.

This is an hour in which patriots must rise to defend that liberty which has created a vibrant Republic.

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