Off through the dark tonight the stathouse grounds are cold and snowless. When the gavel falls and the 2012 session begins on January 9th, I will begin my 8th year serving in the Idaho legislature. After what seem like so many years, I still come to the work with the expectation that what lies ahead holds some promise of hope. I work hard to hold onto that.
Each year is different. That is comforting. It could be better.
But going into this session I hear far too many whisperings of Republican colleagues setting their agendas and limiting the range of legislation they will support based on what they think the extreme of their party demands. This will be an eleaction year. New closed Republican primaries are unknown enough to strike fear into every moderate heart.
Tonight as vapor clings in frozen patterns on windsheids and cold cuts deep into every stone, I have a caution for my colleagues: You give them this power. With their threats will they now get everything they want? While perfectly reasonable people elected you, often by overwealming margins, will you none the less vote in the interest of the few in your districts who wish you ill and in May will seek to drive you from office regardless of how you answer their threats?
And what if you wake up tomorrow and those who elected you for your intelligence and integrity grow disgusted? What if those who purposely elected you as a moderate, a reasonable person, what if they abandon you and stay home on election day or vote for Democrats because of the compormises you made out of fear of the central committee lynch mobs down the street?
What if standing for what you believe in your heart inspires others to do the same? What if it inspires people at home in their houses to work for you, to grow passionate in their support?
Which will you really choose?
Don't bother telling me you have no choice. I see those conversations coming. Do you really think that voting the way they want will make them easier on you? Sadly, I suspect no matter how you vote those cross hairs will still be leveled at your heart.