Opinion: Some thoughts on being an effective minority

National results from the midterm election are not yet final, but we clearly remain an evenly divided country politically. No such balance exists here in Idaho, of course, as the Republican Party continues to dominate our state political landscape.

Bonneville County voted in traditional fashion this week, with the Democratic vote averaging between 30%-40%. This is familiar territory for those of us long in the minority here in eastern Idaho, so we must make a difference in other ways — like we always have.

Thankfully, positive change can occur outside of the Statehouse walls when people of goodwill and ideas work together to improve living conditions in Idaho. Idaho Democrats have a long history of advancing our state and local well-being, whether it is through nonprofit organizations or collective action. This we must continue to do.

We do have the power to organize initiatives and referenda, which Reclaim Idaho has demonstrated most effectively. The historic increase in public education funding — passed this summer in bipartisan fashion — was the direct result of citizens demanding lawmaker support of Idaho teachers.

We also have the power to serve on nonpartisan city and county commissions, school and library boards, and boards of philanthropic entities. No matter our age or politics, we can volunteer at our wonderful zoo, museums and creative arts institutions. Join a service club; volunteer at Habitat for Humanity, the Soup Kitchen or Community Food Basket. Help make Idaho Falls — and our state — places known for their decency, hospitality and generosity.

Meanwhile, there are regional and national arenas where Democrats have always led the way, and we must support their efforts both inside and outside of eastern Idaho. These arenas include health care — particularly women’s reproductive health — immigration policy, workforce/affordable housing, common sense gun regulations and environmental protection.

For decades, Democrats have been pro-environment and reliable land stewards. We definitely were first to recognize the serious consequences of climate change. Addressing the climate crisis should be a bipartisan commitment, and Idaho Democrats should advocate for clean energy and sustainable enterprises at every opportunity. We will find plenty of partners among moderate Republicans and independents, so get involved in a conservation organization that speaks to your beliefs and values.

So, what else can you do if you are a frustrated member of our minority party? Get involved with your local Democratic Party organization, and help us grow and improve. You will find others with similar values and a strong commitment to improving our common welfare and shared planet. Start out at the precinct level and meet those in your neighborhood equally committed to preserving our representative democracy.

We need not move out of our beautiful state in order to make a difference. We must hold Republicans accountable as the party in power and work hard to make changes in 2024 and beyond.

Jan Brown is the state committee woman for the Bonneville County Democratic Central Committee.