Opinion: Looking for stronger class of candidates

We’re gearing up for elections, and there are several items that voters should start to consider. The headlines only bring out the flash in politics. Candidates were previously seen as qualified based on their character and experience. Now it’s about membership. Idaho does not have to be the model of hate. Regardless of affiliation, we need a better class of candidates ready to fight through hate and current made-up culture wars to deliver results.

The Idaho supermajority has been in place for quite some time. It was not the supermajority in itself that drove Idaho into the model it has become. It is the lack of participation. The members of the Idaho GOP took advantage of the fact that many of their members passively vote, only checking for the “R” versus getting to know the person. It allowed poor candidates with hate agendas to slip in and start morphing the party and its focus.

As the candidate announcements start coming, each of us should consider whether they are the right person to run and represent the citizens of Idaho. Look at their past results in the community, and consider their positions, not just their smile. What experience will be used in their decision-making process? We have enough candidates with chips on their shoulders, robots for the party they serve or the classic career politicians. All of them will say they are in for the great state of Idaho.

When candidates speak more against the opposing side, ask yourself why that is the message. One party has controlled the state of Idaho for years. The problem is not from influence or decisions driven by your Idaho Democrats. Why are the candidates afraid to speak about the issues? Another great question is why some candidates only speak to one issue. Is this an indicator of their depth and understanding of what makes Idaho great?

We must stop arming and training Idahoans to fight against each other. Regardless of party, we are neighbors, our kids are friends and together we make up and support the great communities we live in. We should not allow the small legislative body and few active members of their political party to decide how the rest of us treat each other. We all belong here.

The struggles and challenges are not a fight against the candidates. It is a fight of engagement. Voters must demand a stronger class of candidates for this upcoming election. We must hold them accountable for their actions outside of the office by not electing them into office, where their poor experience and follow-through can continue to plague the results we see in Idaho. Go in with a plan that is more than voting for a side. Go out and stand up for a candidate, knock on doors and open up your wallets. Be proud that you supported a person of character that you will be happy to tell your children about after the election.

Dan Barker is a leadership development consultant and the vice chair of the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.