Opinion: Who are we really? Look at our actions

“This isn’t who we are.”

We say that a lot lately.

Many of us were relieved that a U-Haul full of Patriot Front men were detained rather than being able to carry out an attack on a peaceful and joyful Pride gathering in Coeur d’Alene. We were even more relieved when it turned out that most of those men were from out of state.

It’s easy to look at out-of-staters with hate in their hearts and pat ourselves on the back and proclaim, “This isn’t who we are.”

But remember: Someone we elected gave them a platform. One of our legislators hosted an event where her guests invited them in.

People we elected voted for legislation that would jail librarians.

Someone we elected signed a law that he knew — and said he knew — would cause great harm to people in our state.

And we elected the people that voted for and passed that law in the first place.

It’s easy to tell ourselves that we aren’t the kind of people who storm peaceful gatherings. We point to the people geared up in a U-Haul and say: “Whew, that’s not us. We would never.”

The much harder task is to look at ourselves and whom we elect to represent us and look at the outcomes of their policies. We say a lot of things, but do our actions — and the actions of the people we elect to represent us — bear all that out?

We say we’re a state that values education. However, some of our own representatives, right here in Bonneville County, have voted to reduce funding to our colleges. Our elected representatives show great disrespect to teachers and refuse to fund education adequately. We have a teacher shortage in Idaho because we offer low salaries, aren’t among the states that offer teacher loan forgiveness and our elected officials pile on ridiculous rules for our teachers.

No wonder we have a shortage. Teachers can go to a neighboring state and make tens of thousands of dollars more — without all the hassle.

Rather than focusing on real issues like affordable housing, protecting our rights, funding education and conserving our public lands, our Legislature has spent a lot of time in the last five years grandstanding, creating bogeymen and passing bad laws designed to harm already-marginalized Idahoans.

And we keep sending them back.

It’s not pleasant to look inward and see this inconsistency. In general, many of us don’t like to look at the hard truths about who represents us and the harm they do. It’s much easier to look at the extremists yelling slurs and brandishing weapons. We can say we’re definitely not them.

But have we thought about the kind of Idaho we want to be? And the people we need to elect in order to create that Idaho?

We say we want certain things, but we keep electing people who do none of it. At some point, we either need new representatives or we need to accept who we are.

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