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Produced & Maintained by Idaho Mountain Express, Box 1013, Ketchum, ID 83340-1013 
208.726.8060 Voice
208.726.2329 Fax

Copyright © 2002 Express Publishing Inc.
All Rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part in any form or medium without express written permission of Express Publishing Inc. is prohibited. 

For the week of October 23 - 29, 2002


When power blinds public responsibility

Was state Senate candidate Tom Faulkner attempting levity, albeit lame, with his declaration in an Idaho Mountain Express interview that Idaho has a two-party system—"liberal Republicans and conservative Republicans"?

Or does Faulkner, a Republican challenging incumbent state Sen. Clint Stennett, believe in his heart of hearts that a state government dominated by Republicans with only shades of difference in their thinking is as good as it gets for Idaho?

The former view is not amusing and the latter is frightening.

Republican lawmakers not only reign with an iron hand by having a majority, but also rule through another clever artifice—the closed caucus where GOP legislators can decide well in advance what legislation will be discussed, how it will be discussed, and how members will vote.

This backroom political sanitizing of the usual unpredictable give-and-take of legislating makes a mockery of public hearings that Republicans seem to treat as little more than window dressing, not genuine opportunities for the public to argue its case with sympathetic ears and open minds.

Republicans should open their caucuses. The Democratic minority in the House opened its party caucus two sessions ago; Senate Democrats opened theirs this past session.

So, the press and others interested in what Democrats discuss before formal sessions may eavesdrop. Openness serves to prevent rigging votes or stifling party dissent in advance.

If this misuse of overwhelming power and secrecy by the dominant Republican majority benefits pet GOP interests and muffles dissent within its ranks, it works against the best interests of Idahoans.

One test is for Idahoans to ask: Is their state better off today after years and years of GOP rule and lack of balance?

Decidedly not.

With only a handful of Democrat legislators challenging Republican policies, the reigning majority can run roughshod over any opposition, imposing its will and along the way making decisions and creating policy with dire long-range consequences.

Surely the mediocrity that Idaho suffers in national rankings and the shortfall in its services are results of misuses of absolute political power and an indifference to public needs and higher public expectations.

Idaho’s current dismal—and worsening—financial crisis is the ultimate fulfillment of Lord Acton’s oft-repeated cautionary maxim that "Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely," even if the corruption is ineptness and judgment.



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The Idaho Mountain Express is distributed free to residents and guests throughout the Sun Valley, Idaho resort area community. Subscribers to the Idaho Mountain Express will read these stories and others in this week's issue.