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Californicators

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Californicators

Politically Incorrect as always, Trish talks about newcomers, politics and change

Californication. I’m not sure who came up with that word, but it’s a great one. I remember many years ago (though it doesn’t seem like that many) when bumper stickers sprouted all over proclaiming “Don’t Californicate our State.” The sentiment at the time seemed to be directed at liberal newcomers, and generally came about in response to suggested and sometimes implemented restrictions—both real and perceived—against the traditional way of life for many Idahoans.

Looking back on those days, it’s not so hard to see we were so busy guarding the front door that we neglected to secure the back, where the Californicators arrived in droves. These weren’t the hippie liberals we were worried about, though. These were far right radicals—a disproportionate amount of them former cops, it seems—who came here with their often government-funded retirements and pockets of money from inflated property sales, determined to “save” us from the perceived wrongs of other areas, and dedicated to demolishing a way of life that those who were born and raised here had built. Which is rather ironic, given that the lifestyle of this place was presumably what caused the Californicators to move here in the first place.

Sometimes these people are seen as anarchists, in that they say they believe the best form of government is basically no government at all. In practice, of course, they still want big government—they just want it to focus in a different direction, primarily in enforcing their personal morality, which they generally consider to be “Christian” even though it’s not particularly Christ-like. But in reality, what these people are is incredibly greedy: “Don’t tax me,” they say, “And don’t try to stop me from doing... well, just about anything I damn well please, unless it has something to do with sex, in which case, bring on the big government.” These are people who apparently feel no sense of responsibility toward the community they have become a part of—and that’s just about as far away from the practice of a traditional Idahoan as I can imagine, because the first thing one notices when moving here, is that most people are actively working to keep this place a wonderful area to live in and raise a family. Idahoans (like many of our neighbors in Montana) freely give of their time and their money to do whatever it is that needs to be done. They have supported schools and libraries, fire districts and EMTs—and they’re not afraid to pay taxes to do it. In fact, if Idaho has an obesity problem, I’d be willing to venture that it’s due to all the darned spaghetti dinners we pay for and eat to support all those things that make this a place where you want to live.

And you know—they’re on the right track, because their efforts have been so successful we all wanted to move here.

I say “we” because I’m a newcomer myself, having arrived in Idaho in 1987 after living in dozens of places throughout the U.S. and even beyond—including the dreaded California. 

There have always been tensions with new people to this area who want to change things, of course, but lately we have seen this desire rise to new levels, as many of those newcomers realized they had no broad base of support for their radical ideas, and determined that the best way to get what they want is to simply take over government. That sounds... I don’t know... alarmist at some level, but it’s hard to argue with the facts. Take a good look at the people who are somewhat newly in office, as well as those who are currently running for office, and take a look at where they came from. Just on the Republican ticket, there are eight challengers for six positions in the contested races. Of those eight, only one has lived here for most of their adult life (he’s a native): of the remaining seven, over 90 percent didn’t even move here until this century—that is, after 2000. 

That is not to say that newcomers don’t have value to our community; we have seen many times that they do. But it does suggest that in future, the people making the choices for this area may not be people who share the values of those who have put their time and effort into creating this community. I have to ask myself: “If they think things are so off track that they must run for office to “change” the system—why did they come here in the first place?”

Change, of course, is inevitable. What worked 50 years ago, or 100 years ago, might not work any longer given the impacts on our community of time and growth. The key word there, however, is “might;” indeed, the system might also work well as it is. My desire for only responsible and responsive change would lead my friend, Paul Rechnitzer, to call me conservative, even though I’m about as liberal as they come in these parts. But I think it important that we don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater, as they say, and it certainly appears that this new breed of people who want to govern the rest of us is all about throwing the baby out, along with everything else.

I believe in this representative democracy we have. I believe that people have a right to vote for those people they think will make choices about our future that are in line with their own values and goals. It’s certainly possible that this area has changed so greatly since I moved here that the majority of our residents truly want the kind of change that’s being promised lately by those who want your vote. And if that’s the case, so be it. 

But I don’t believe that’s the case. I believe my friends and neighbors here in North Idaho are the same as they ever were—hard working, giving people who work day and night to continue to build up this place where we all live and make it better. They want to send their kids (and their grandkids) to school, visit the county fair, check out a book or a movie at the library, watch a parade and fireworks on the 4th of July, and know that these things weren’t just given to us, and didn’t happen against our wishes—we have all worked and sacrificed and handed over our hard-earned dollars to make them happen.

Empty rhetoric, no matter how many images of flags and the Constitution it’s wrapped in, doesn’t cut it in my Idaho. We have worked too hard to stand idly by while newcomers come in and try to dismantle everything we’ve built. We will not be Californicated, will not give up our vision in return for one that grew somewhere else.

Please, take the time not just to vote on May 15, but to truly understand the various candidates’ ideas of what Idaho should be. Then mark your ballot in support of those whose vision matches your own. See you at the polls.

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Landon Otis

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Politics, Politically Incorrect, Tea Party, republican primary

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