In his dystopian novel, 1984, George Orwell introduced us to the “Thought Police” who were assigned by their autocratic leader, “Big Brother,” to root out and punish unapproved thoughts. I read Orwell’s book back in the early 1960s when I was a rather right-wing Young Republican studying political science at the University of Oregon. At the time, I believed Orwell was warning against a future radical-left government that would stifle thought, usurping the free will of the people. That did not happen, but it seems to be occurring now, right before our eyes, in Dorothy Moon’s radical-right branch of the Republican Party.
This came to mind as I was reading a 51-page, 16 count draft “indictment” issued by the Legislative District 32 GOP Committee against Representative Stephanie Mickelsen for alleged violations of the Republican platform. Mickelsen has been a thoughtful, reliably conservative legislator, which apparently does not count with Moon’s extremists.
Mickelsen has been notified to appear for a grilling by party functionaries to answer charges of straying from the party line and, get this, failing to follow the dictates of the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF), which thrives upon dark-money funding from out of state. Article XX of Moon’s platform, the Thought Police provision, authorizes party bosses to interrogate those accused of failing to follow the party line and “provide censure and/or guidance.” Those who think for themselves can be stripped of the party label for not toeing the line. It is not clear whether the inquisitors have given the indictment to Mickelsen, but a good soul provided me with a copy of the draft document.
The indictment charges Mickelsen with a variety of violations of the Moon platform and IFF policy positions. Allegation 13 claims that Mickelsen violated the platform by voting for S1176, the higher education funding bill. Everyone knows that the IFF is dead set against public education, so it is no surprise that the Moonies would oppose funding it. What is puzzling is that the platform says: “We recognize the importance of Idaho’s higher education system in continuing the education of our citizens.” That may be why Mickelsen and 29 other House Republicans supported paying the bill for educating Idaho’s college students. Apparently, the IFF position overrules the GOP platform.
Mickelsen was chastised for supporting H0024, Governor Little’s Idaho Launch program providing education grants for career training of high school graduates. The IFF strongly opposed this bill, which obligated the Moonies to discipline any who favored it.
Because medical doctors and veterinarians are in critically short supply in rural Idaho, Mickelsen supported Idaho’s long-standing program to finance the out-of-state education of Idahoans who will come home to fill those needs. IFF and the Moon crowd thought otherwise so they panned her vote for S1147 to fund that program. They must think farm folks should have to Google for cures of sick cows and family members.
The indictment rakes Mickelsen over the coals for voting against an unconstitutional bill, H0314, targeting school and municipal libraries. The terms in the bill were vague, it would have clogged the courts with frivolous lawsuits and Idaho librarians don’t hand out filth to kids. Governor Little vetoed the bill, which caused the Moonies to go ballistic and censure him. The bill violated the GOP platform, which says “government is best that governs least” and “the most effective, responsible, responsive government is government closest to the people.” Local elected school boards and library district boards can handle the job of library oversight. IFF and Moon should keep out of it.
H013, which would have required schools to provide feminine hygiene products to female students in grades 6-12, died on a tie vote in the House. Most female legislators supported it to save girls from embarrassment. That was not a great concern to the IFF and Moon crowd, who fault Mickelsen for doing the right thing. Shame on the uncaring.
There are other baseless allegations in the indictment and many other responsible, caring and pragmatic Republicans are being called on the carpet by the Moon and IFF crowd. They want to chastise those who use their own brains and moral values to represent their constituents. These thought policemen should settle down and allow legislators to serve their people as they see fit. If the voters don’t like it, they can exercise a right set out in the GOP platform–“to vote for the candidate of their choice.” Mickelsen is an open door to her constituents and makes every effort to meet and communicate with them. But she rightfully thinks that Idaho legislators and voters do not need a “Big Brother” telling them what to think, say or do.