Opinion: We need to get involved in local politics and issues

This year’s legislative session has shown us something here in Idaho: We need to be involved.

Rather than addressing issues that matter to us, our so-called representatives and leaders have instead focused on culture war issues that do little more than harm the most vulnerable among us.

These days, transmittal letters from the governor are little more than ineffectual hand-wringing, pointing out how bad the laws are, even while signing them.

It’s become clear that it’s no longer enough for us to call the governor’s office or write to our legislators. They don’t listen anyway.

Instead, it’s more profitable for legislators to take bills from out-of-state extremist groups, push them in our state and then go on tour as minor political celebrities. Meanwhile, we spend taxpayer dollars defending these unconstitutional laws — only to have them struck down anyway.

No, if we want change, if we want Idaho to move forward instead of backward, we need to break out of the current ride-or-die sports team mentality and focus on people and policies designed to make our state better.

We can’t rely on our legislators to listen to us and do the right thing. So, it’s time for us to get involved.

Many of us only pay attention to state and local politics when the Legislature is in session and perpetrating outrages on us. Then it becomes a flurry of tweets, a few emails and some phone calls. Then, once the session is over, we lament how it’s the most extremist Legislature yet, and then we breathe a sigh of relief and ignore state politics for the rest of the year.

In Idaho, we’ve reached a point where we can’t do this anymore. At least, we can’t stay in this cycle if we hope to save our state from extremism.

We need to be involved on a more regular basis.

We need to be involved in our county political parties.

We need to be involved in non-partisan and bipartisan issues-based campaigns.

We need to pay attention to who’s running for office and the policies they promote.

We need to knock on doors and talk to our neighbors.

We need to volunteer for causes and participate in conversations about moving Idaho forward.

Involvement can be time-consuming, and it can be challenging to fit this involvement into our daily schedules. But we don’t need to be all politics, all the time. If you can carve out one hour per week to help on a campaign — whether it’s for a candidate or an issue — or volunteer for a nonprofit or civic organization, you can make a difference.

But we need to be doing this together, and we need to be doing it year-round. Until we show that we mean business and will no longer accept this lack of leadership from our elected officials, we’ll keep getting these results.

We must run for office, populate our county party structures and volunteer for good causes and candidates.

The saying is true, “We are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”

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