[Vision2020] For sake of democracy, research the candidates

Tom Hansen thansen at moscow.com
Thu May 25 06:20:30 PDT 2023

Courtesy of today’s Moscow-Pullman Daily News with special thanks to Moscow’s own Shirley Ringo . . .


For sake of democracy, research the candidates

There are too many elected officials who don’t mind limiting our freedom by inflicting their own personal beliefs on us. Recently I experienced, for the first time, white knuckles over the election of county library commissioners.

During my several conversations with individuals regarding elections, I have encountered too many who not only don’t vote, but seem to take pride in that lack of participation. Frequently, the justification is that since they are uninformed, it wouldn’t be right for their votes to be recorded. What an abysmally lazy abrogation of responsibility.

The necessary process of vetting candidates requires gathering information about their positions on a number of issues, and also investigating their attitudes about leadership. Would they be inclined to talk with folks about their needs and obtain information to better understand them, or would they be inclined to enact legislation consistent with their own biases? Specifically, too many elected leaders make decisions based upon their own religious beliefs without regard to the freedoms of others who have differing beliefs. Many Idaho legislators, unfortunately, take this approach.

House Bill 71, from the 2023 Idaho legislative session, provides an example of religious fanaticism and legislative arrogance. This bill is called the “Vulnerable Child Protection Act,” and purportedly deals with “genital mutilation” of a child. The bill had 23 legislative co-sponsors.

House Bill 71 deals with transgendered patients younger than age 18, limits actions physicians may use to treat them and provides for penalties for physicians who may not comply. “Any medical professional convicted of a violation of this section shall be guilty of a felony and shall be imprisoned in the state prison for a term of not more than ten years.”

It is worth noting that the primary treatment by trained members of the medical profession is through hormonal development, providing exogenous hormones and/or hormone blockers to allow one to develop in accordance with the gender with which they have clinically been found to identify. It is exceedingly rare for any transgendered patient younger than age 18 to undergo surgical procedures that are in line with gender-affirming care.

Licensed physicians are more trustworthy in dealing with such sensitive issues than a group of legislators carrying out their distorted biases.

Idaho legislators extend their fascination with gender issues to the schools by passing legislation that “ensures that public schools maintain separate bathrooms, locker rooms, showers, dressing areas, and overnight accommodations for biological boys and biological girls.” Whew! Minds of legislators must be eased, knowing that such judgments are not left to mere educators.

The “Children’s School and Library Protection Act” requires public schools and community libraries to take reasonable steps in restricting children’s access to obscene or harmful material. If a child manages to access such materials in violation of this act, the parent may sue the library or school. One might reasonably expect that legislation is proposed to solve existing problems. Do our legislators really think it has never occurred to librarians or school officials to screen children’s access to obscene or harmful material?

When the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade and assigned individual states the option to deal with the issue, one would expect bad news for Idaho women. The notion that life begins at conception is not universally accepted by all religions nor by all those without a religious affiliation. For example, the Hebrew Bible makes clear that a fetus does not have the status of a human life. Inflicting the belief that life begins at conception upon all of us unfairly limits our religious freedoms.

It can be argued that few of these legislative actions deal with real problems Idahoans face. Legislators are threatening members of our society — physicians, teachers, librarians, and others — who already are working to do what is right for all of us.

Citizenship 101 requires effort. Study the issues and the candidates and choose leaders with great care. Merely voting for the familiar name or political party is not enough. Democracy depends on you.

Ringo, of Moscow, is a former mathematics teacher and a seven-term Democratic member of the Idaho House. This column originally appeared in the Lewiston Tribune.


Seeya 'round town, Moscow, because . . .

"Moscow Cares" (the most fun you can have with your pants on)

Tom Hansen
Moscow, Idaho

“A stranger is just a friend you haven’t met.”
- Roy E. Stolworthy
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