For all the sound and fury over the need to make changes in the political make-up of just about any level of government, the truth is, not many people actually want to run or even take part by paying attention.
Look at the local races. Nine offices are up for election. But only three have challenges in the May primary and this fall seven of those nine races will be unopposed on the ballot unless an independent or write-in (read hopeless cause) candidate shows up.
It may seem that those who complain have not stood up to face the challenge of seeing if they really could do it better. But, in truth, some people simply don't have the time or money to commit to running for election. Even at the local level, races aren't cheap and if you're elected, you're going to spend a lot more than just 8 to 5 doing the job.
Meanwhile, the greatest democracy on the planet, the flag bearer for all other democracies, has an abysmal voting record. We're just not participating in our government and sometimes it seems like we're getting what we deserve.
As a rough rule of thumb, only half the people eligible to vote are registered and only half those registered actually vote on a regular basis and if an election is won by just barely half the vote that means the winner represents just over 12.5 percent of all eligible voters. Let the mandate begin.
Our representative democracy is sorely lacking in participants. But then, when people don't have options, they don't vote.
The lack of options is why the Republican primary on May 20 is the only real election in Idaho. The Democratic Party is in terrible disarray, having failed completely to groom any candidates. Quick, name the current declared Democratic candidates for governor. Better yet, name the one that ran against Gov. Otter in the last election since millions were poured into that campaign to make him a household name. If you drew a blank, it's because of the horrible campaign capabilities of that once proud and now miserably defunct party. It won't get better this time around, either. At the local level, only two Democrats are running among the nine positions up for election. That's pitiful. And they're pretty much doing it on their own. There's really little or no organization behind them the way there is for Republican candidates.
The people who will be running this state next year are going to be found in the Republican primary on May 20. A bunch of them are very good people but some aren't and as the state's GOP internal leadership moves further and further to the right, most of the better Republican candidates and office-holders are finding themselves increasingly estranged from their own party's official positions.
In the end, the reason all of this happens, the reason people have no faith in the political system any more, is because they don't take part in it. Politics isn't something you pay attention to for only a short time every two years. It's something you have to follow closely all the time. Because if you don't, what you get is equal to the amount of effort you've made.
And these days, when you go shopping for candidates, you're not browsing through Nieman-Marcus any more. Increasingly, it looks more and more like the Salvation Army clearance sale bargain bin.
-- Kelly Everitt