Truman Banquet during the pandemic

The 40th annual Truman Banquet during a pandemic will be a new experience, and as we’ve seen in other activities, some of the improvising because of COVID-19 will likely become a fixture in future events.

After numerous rescheduling because of COVID-19, the Truman Banquet, which is the oldest annual Democratic event in Idaho, will not be in May for the first time in its history. The banquet will be Thursday, and the venue will be at the Motor-Vu Drive-in theater to engender community with social distancing via people attending in person while remaining in their own cars or, and this will likely be a permanent consideration for large events and fundraisers, via Zoom. Some of our speakers also will be via Zoom. As we know by now, Zoom facilitates live video conferencing of speakers from elsewhere for keynote presentations for even only a few minutes.

The speakers at this year’s Truman Banquet include Arizona U.S. Rep. and Iraq War combat veteran Ruben Gallego (via Zoom), U.S. Senate candidate Paulette Jordan, U.S. House candidate Aaron Swisher (via Zoom), local Idaho District 33 House candidates Miranda Marquit and David Roth and Idaho District 15 Rep. Steve Berch (via Zoom), who inspiringly persevered to run until he won on the fifth try. You’ll also have a chance to get acquainted with a new get out the youth-vote organization, Become Idaho, which targets 18- to 22-year-olds, who historically undervote.

The first Truman banquet was held in 1981 after the election of 1980, called “the year the Senate fell,” which was disastrous for Democrats. After a 25-year reign of U.S. Senate Democratic control, 12 Democratic senators, including Idaho Sen. Frank Church, Sin. Birch Bayh (Illinois), Sen. George McGovern (South Dakota) and other prominent Democrats lost their seats. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neil delivered the keynote speech that year.

The banquet has helped raise money to elect Democrats up and down the ticket with some remarkable success. District 30 was Democratic from 2002 through 2010 and District 33 from 1994 through 2005. Redistricting made electing Democrats much more difficult, with Jerry Shively being the last elected Democrat in Bonneville County since 2008. Idaho has been in a trifecta of Republican control of the governor’s seat and both legislative houses since 1995.

The consequences of this one-party rule have not been good. Most importantly, Idaho’s funding of education is at or close to rock-bottom of all states in several categories, including per-student funding, no state funding of early childhood education and no all-day kindergarten. The ripple effects of underfunding education have resulted in skilled jobs not being filled in Idaho and Idahoans suffering through low wages. We also have seen an increase of legislation that marginalizes people and has been unsuccessfully defended in court at taxpayer expense. Two bills that threaten the constitutional rights of transgender Idahoans are now being challenged in court. We also have endured an increased influence of the Legislature by the Idaho Freedom Foundation.

You are all welcome at the Truman Banquet either in person or via Zoom. Register at