Opinion: Is this who we are?

“This isn’t who we are.”

We hear that a lot around the time of the legislative session.

The Idaho House is passing increasingly extreme bills. I wish it were an exaggeration to say that the House has passed legislation criminalizing librarians (House Bill 666) for the books children check out. I wish it were an exaggeration to say that the House has passed legislation that gets between families and their medical providers, injecting government into intimate decisions. Seriously, HB 675 makes it a felony to provide certain types of care to teenagers. It’s OK to let children die for “freedom” and faith healing, but House legislators want to make seeking gender-affirming care — even in other states— a felony.

Senate leaders are saying that these two bills likely won’t make it out of committee, but the reality is that they passed the House. People who represent us, the citizens of Idaho, believe it’s who we are.

It’s time to take a hard look in the mirror.

We say this isn’t who we are. But we keep sending these people back to the Legislature. Even when there’s another option, we send these people to the Legislature to speak for us. To act for us. To engage in hate and to attack freedom on our behalf.

These legislators claim to love freedom, but everything they do reeks of government intervention in our lives. They want to tell us what we can read. They want to tell us how to interact with our health care providers. They tell our local governments how to conduct business, barring us from managing our own affairs as cities. And they do this hypocritically, pretending that we’re suffering from federal overreach.

Instead of tackling issues of infrastructure, education funding, affordable housing and accessible health care, our so-called representatives in the House continue to create outrage over “problems” that don’t exist. It’s terrible policy, designed to do nothing more than stir up hate and fear and keep their pockets lined and endear them to extremist groups around the country.

This brings me back to that mirror.

We say that this isn’t who we are. But we have a representative form of government. If we keep sending these folks to the state capital to represent us and make laws for us, can we really claim this isn’t who we are?

Pay attention to the votes this legislative session. Pay attention to our “representatives.” What causes they champion. Are they doing the people’s work, or are they grandstanding and touring the country, emphasizing a culture war designed to divide us rather than supporting positive outcomes?

We have a chance to change the face of the Legislature this year. Will we do it? Or will we wring our hands ineffectually as we send the same people back to pass harmful and hateful laws?

Miranda Marquit, Master of Business Administration, is a nationally recognized financial expert, speaker and writer. She is the state committeewoman for the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.