I’ve now had five days to digest the Idaho primary election results. I must admit that in the statewide races except for Raul Labrador winning the Attorney General’s race, conservatives took a “whipping”. But we have a few things to learn and if we don’t admit to our shortcomings, we will continue to make the same mistakes.
I must admit to myself that I am jealous of the system the establishment wing of the party has created and maintained for over forty years. The Idaho Association of Commerce and Industry is at the center of “the system”. Great teachers have a system, and it is not rooted in curriculum but in pedagogy. The way they teach what they teach is what separates great teachers from average teachers… Great businessmen have a system for how they run their businesses—the systems may be different, but the systems work if you stay true to the process. And IACI/IMA/IHA and the teachers’ unions have formed a coalition around which “the system” functions. I was privileged to play football in college and high school under coaches who had great systems. In both cases, the roots of that system could be traced back to one person—the great Paul Brown. At all levels of the sport the system became more important than the individual talent. The team operating within the system could accomplish greatness, even against stronger faster teams. Talent was not as important as the process of the system.
In my humble opinion, the conservative candidates lost against “the system” Tues night. Neither Brad Little nor Scott Bedke are great political talents. The system that controlled their campaigns and has controlled the political narrative in Idaho for 40 years won their elections. Neither Mike Crapo nor Mike Simpson are talented politicians, but they have been part of a system that has allowed them to thrive. Raul is a great talent and was able to in this one instance overcome the system.
Conservatives in Idaho are like the Native American Sioux warriors of the mid-nineteenth century. We are great warriors who like to skirmish and fight asymmetric battles, but we have no strategy or organization that can guide a specific process. WE need a great chief—like Sitting Bull to bring all the conservative factions together and form a cohesive battle plan. This is what was done by the corporate leaders in Idaho—Simplot, Albertson, Morrison Knutson, Ore Ida, and Boise Cascade when they formed what was to become IACI in the early nineteen seventies. We have many factions within the conservative community that could join and become a single political force and become a system with a process. IACI working within and without the Idaho Republican Party is today more important in determining the political direction of our State than individual legislators or even the Governor. Do you think either Brad or Scott could have become what they are today if it weren’t for IACI, and the corporate interests and lobbyists that support them? No IACI— no Governor Little. Unfortunately, the politicians have become supplicant to the benefactors. The people charged with regulating businesses and making laws in our State are beholding to the people who put them in their positions of governance. Look what happened to Ron Nate—the Melaleuca anti-Christ.
Conservatives have two choices going forward. We can try to root out the corruption that happens when such a system is allowed to operate unopposed for such a long time. Or we can have a meeting of all the “tribes” in the conservative nation and come to an understanding of who our opponents truly are—not RINOs or establishment Republicans, but the people and organizations that they are beholding to. We need to form a political army that will match their army. Fighting individual skirmishes and every now and then winning with a great talent like Raul Labrador won’t win the strategic battle. We should get organized now. We have forty years of catching up with an incredibly efficient system
I remain jealous of our opponents. They deserve our respect. So much so that we should strive to be like them. I hope the Idaho “Conservative Nation” is not only jealous of our opponents but upset enough to admit that we need to change our strategy and be courageous enough to fix the problem.
Otherwise, we will have to hope for the next great talented politician.